Passport Requirements For Cruise: Do You Need A Passport For A Cruise

November 12, 2023 | Posted By: Editor
Two people on the deck of a cruise ship.


 If you do not have a passport, but wish to travel internationally, taking a cruise is a great option. But do you need a passport to take a cruise? The answer depends. Some closed-loop cruises do not require a passport.

What is a Closed-loop Cruise?

A closed-loop cruise means the cruise, as defined by the United States, and Customs Border Control is an ocean or river voyage that begins and ends at the same U.S. Port. For instance, if a cruise departs from the Port of Miami, and returns to the Port of Miami, this is a closed-loop cruise. Closed-loop cruises travel to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda.

However, if a cruise departs from the Port of Miami, but returns to Los Angeles, CA, this is not a closed-loop cruise, and a U.S. Passport would be necessary. In most cases, passports are not necessary for a closed-loop cruise. However, travelers must provide proof of citizenship and identification. 

There are several U.S. Territories and commonwealths where US Citizens can freely travel to with a valid driver’s license and not a passport. This includes Puerto Rico, U.S Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Although some closed-loop cruises do not require a passport, it is best to travel with one. For instance, if a traveler were to get sick or miss the return departure, getting back into the country would be very challenging. A trip to the U.S. Embassy would be required to enter back to the United States. Also, certain countries will need a passport even if it’s considered a closed-loop cruise. These countries include Cuba, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, St. Barts, St. Martin, and Trinidad and Tobago. In the event your trip plans to make a stop in one of these countries, the traveler would be unable to get off the boat.


Since the rules vary from country to country, it is essential to contact your cruise line before you travel. In the event a passport is not required, the following documentation is: 

Proof of Citizenship: 

  • U.S. Birth Certificate 
  • Naturalization Certificate  


  • Drivers License
  • State-issued identification card 

Name Change Documentation: 

  • If your name has legally changed and appears differently on your proof of citizenship and identification, you must provide your original proof of name change, such as marriage certificate, adoption certificate 

All documentation must be original or certified. 


An Enhanced Driver’s License will suffice for most cruises. An Enhanced Driver’s License allows travel by land or sea. In the event of a closed-loop cruise, where a passport is not required, an enhanced driver’s license will suffice instead of a birth certificate or naturalization certificate. 


A passport card will suffice for traveling. A passport card is a plastic, wallet-sized ID that used for traveling by car or sea. Passport cards are less expensive than a regular passport book. But it is important to remember; you cannot fly with a passport card. If flying internationally, a passport book is required. Also, if cruising to Cuba, a passport book is needed. All other countries will accept a passport card for a cruise. 

Always check with your cruise before you travel to ensure you have the proper documentation. Although a passport may not be required, it is safe to have one regardless. The US Department of State recommends a passport to be valid for six months in advance to the travel date.