Many US citizens want to venture into a larger world than the states, and the opportunity to travel easily and passport-free is an attractive alternative. Although US citizens generally require a passport for international travel, several exceptions allow them to explore various destinations without one. These exceptions include US territories like Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Additionally, US citizens can visit Canada and Alaska without a passport, provided they meet specific documentation requirements. Traveling directly to these destinations via air, however, may necessitate a valid passport. Before planning any trip, it is essential to review the latest travel regulations and requirements set by the respective destination’s authorities with your travel advisor.
As an unincorporated US territory in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a popular destination for US citizens. Since it is part of the United States, no passport is required for US citizens to travel to Puerto Rico. Traveling to Puerto Rico by air or sea from the US mainland is a domestic journey. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with urban and rural areas. The countryside has lush green hills, mountains, and many popular beaches. The island is blessed with year-round sunshine, providing the perfect setting for outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming, and water sports. San Juan, the capital city, is a vibrant and colorful city with rich history and culture. The old town, with its colonial architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and historic forts, has a bustling nightlife with a variety of bars, restaurants, and clubs.
US Virgin Islands:
Similar to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix) are US territories so that US citizens can visit without a passport. Traveling to the US Virgin Islands from the US mainland is considered a domestic trip. The US Virgin Islands boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and warm temperatures year-round. These islands boast some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, including Magen’s Bay Beach in St. Thomas, Trunk Bay Beach in St. John, and Buck Island Beach in St. Croix. Beyond the beaches, the US Virgin Islands offer lush green forests perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring. Visitors can also enjoy various water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. For history buffs, the islands have plenty of museums, historic sites, and forts to explore.
Northern Mariana Islands:
The Northern Mariana Islands, including Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, are a commonwealth of the United States. US citizens can visit these islands without a passport, and travel from the US mainland to the Northern Mariana Islands is treated as a domestic journey.
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States in the South Pacific. While US citizens do not need a passport to visit, they must present government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate. It is possible to travel to American Samoa by air or sea.
Guam is an organized US territory situated in the Western Pacific Ocean. US citizens do not need a passport to visit Guam, and travel from the US mainland is considered domestic. Entry to Guam is possible via air or sea.
Canada is the only foreign country on this list where US citizens can travel without a passport. However, to gain entry, US citizens must present a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of US citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate. Traveling by land or sea between the US and Canada allows for the use of an enhanced driver’s license or a trusted traveler program card, such as NEXUS.
The Nexus Card is a trusted traveler program card that expedites processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers entering the United States or Canada. It is jointly administered by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The Nexus Card is available to citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada who meet the eligibility criteria and pass a thorough background check.
While a passport is typically required for travel to Mexico, there is an exception for US citizens traveling by land or sea. They can present a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, and proof of US citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate. However, it is important to note that traveling to Mexico by air always requires a valid passport.