How to Travel in the US Without a Passport

travel in us without passport

Many Americans consider passports essential for international travel. Luckily, however, there are plenty of amazing destinations open to US citizens without needing one.

This list features tropical vacations, thrilling outdoor adventures and cultural experiences ranging from tropical islands to captivating cities and museums. Requirements for visiting each location vary; some require a raised-seal birth certificate while others accept valid photo identification with original birth certificate as valid identification documents.

United States

As a United States citizen, you can travel freely within your own country without needing a passport to visit many of its destinations – from beaches and tropical islands, culturally-rich cities, mountain ranges and stunning mountain peaks – without ever needing one! Each destination provides numerous activities and experiences suitable for every taste; and all can be reached with just an enhanced driver’s license or state ID card!

If you’re planning a cruise, closed-loop cruises can allow for passport-free travel. This means boarding your ship in an American port and sailing directly to an international location within Western Hemisphere before returning back home again – though this might seem cumbersome at first. But this can actually be a fantastic way of seeing more of our world!

Note that, beginning in 2025, all U.S. citizens will require a passport as proof of citizenship in an emergency situation; alternatively it can serve as an additional form of ID until then. Note also that you will require one when returning from international travel!

U.S. Territories

US citizens can explore numerous tropical destinations throughout the Caribbean and beyond without needing a passport, such as US Territories such as the Bahamas, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. Though no passport is needed to access these territories, raised-seal birth certificates and valid government identification such as driver’s licenses may be needed instead. Furthermore, Americans traveling by road or sea are also permitted entry without needing a passport into Alaska and Canada.

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US Virgin Islands, comprised of St. Thomas, St. Croix and Vieques are one of the world’s premier luxury vacation spots, featuring beautiful secluded beaches and luxurious culture that make an idyllic spot for an indulgent escape. Two thirds of each island is protected by Virgin Islands National Park which boasts breathtaking beaches as well as hiking trails for adventurous travellers.

Another incredible option for tourism enthusiasts are the Northern Mariana Islands in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, an archipelago offering a distinctive combination of cultures and natural beauty, including stunning beaches and coral reefs. Although currently it is possible to visit these islands without needing a passport, this could change once REAL ID requirements take effect in May 2025 – therefore before booking flights it’s advisable to consult airlines to ensure your flight meets these criteria.


Canada occupies much of North America and shares borders with twelve US states as well as coasts on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Home to many islands, Canada makes for an excellent budget travel destination without needing passports for exploration of exotic locales. Canadian government regulations stipulate that US travelers present valid travel documents when entering its borders; these requirements vary depending on where and how a traveler enters.

US citizens entering by air must present either their passport, passport card, NEXUS card or original or copy of birth certificate accompanied by written proof of citizenship from an adult supervising them; children aged 16 and younger may use either their original or copy if traveling with an adult who can provide written evidence of citizenship as evidence of entry. Travelers arriving by land or sea will require either their US passport or an acceptable WHTI-compliant document such as Green Cards for entry.

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WHTI cards feature radiofrequency identification (RFID) chips to accelerate the process of scanning and verifying ID at border crossings, making them available from airlines, travel agencies and retailers. Unfortunately, passport applications have become backlogged, making travel impossible for some people; but there are still options for those eager to travel and discover more of the world.


Mexico offers many beautiful attractions for travelers to experience and it was no secret that over 36 million Americans visited this culturally rich nation in 2019. When planning your trip, make sure your passport or passport card will remain valid for at least 3 months prior to travel – this will allow for smooth border control and immigration processes when entering and leaving Mexico.

Contrary to some countries, traveling from the US to Mexico by land doesn’t require you to present a passport; instead, border patrol agents accept either standard ID or passport card along with proof of birth/naturalization or naturalization certificate as identification documents. Children aged 16 years or younger also require either birth/naturalization certificates or passport cards as ID documents.

A passport card looks just like its counterpart but is more wallet-friendly, suitable for travelers planning only on visiting Mexico or other Western Hemisphere international destinations.

American citizens travelling by land can also access Canada without requiring a passport; the only exception being residents of Alaska who cannot legally leave without first having obtained either one of two official identification documents issued by their government: passport or identification card.

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