Traveling to Puerto Rico with the U.S. Passport

“Do you need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico?” is a question you may want answered before you visit this island. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and not a state. Therefore, it can seem confusing when trying to figure out whether you need a passport to visit this destination. However, it is important that you understand the island’s driver’s license and passport requirements. If you board a plane without proper documentation, you may risk having trouble flying home again.

If you have questions about the Puerto Rico passport requirements, read the information below. The following sections provide facts you need to know before your next Puerto Rico vacation. Many U.S. citizens currently do not need passports to take their trips to Puerto Rico. However, depending on where you live, this could change in the near future. Review the information below to find out more about the requirements.

Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico?

Individuals need either a passport card or book when they travel abroad. However, Puerto Rico is part of the United States. As a result, citizens generally do not need to visit Puerto Rico with a US passport. In most cases, individuals can fly or cruise to the island if they have valid driver’s licenses. However, passengers must remember that this is true so long as their travel plans do not include a layover or stop in a foreign country.

For example, travelers do not need to apply for a passport before they go to Puerto Rico if they fly there directly from the United States. This same rule applies to cruise ships. However, individuals need to submit a US passport application and obtain documentation if their plane has a layover in Mexico, for example, before it arrives in Puerto Rico. Likewise, travelers whose cruise ships have a port of call in most other Caribbean countries need to obtain passports.

Should I bring my US passport when I visit Puerto Rico?

If you have a US passport book or card, you should bring it with you when you go to Puerto Rico. This is especially true if you live in a state that does not issue REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses. Beginning on October 1, 2020, you can only board a domestic airplane if you have identification that one of the REAL ID compliant states issued. Examples of current states that have extensions to meet these guidelines but are not currently compliant include:

  • California.
  • Minnesota.
  • New Jersey.
  • Oregon.

Even if you have a REAL ID driver’s license, consider bringing your US passport when you go to Puerto Rico. With a federal passport book or card, you can easily prove to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents that you are a U.S. citizen. If you do not have a passport, attempt to bring other proof of citizenship with you, including your birth certificate or naturalization records.