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Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise – A Comprehensive Guide

Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise feature

If you’ve ever asked, “Do I need a passport for a cruise?” then you’ve landed in the right spot. It would be awful to get to your cruise ship and not get to board if you don’t have the correct documentation. Just how sad would everyone be?

As an experienced traveler and a lover of cruising, I’ve spent countless hours researching and understanding if a passport is required to set sail. I’ve compiled all this knowledge into a handy guide that answers the top questions about “Do I need a passport for a cruise?”

If you’re preparing to cruise the high seas, this guide is a must-read. We will answer your questions and have you ready for an amazing time. So, take a deep breath, and together let’s find all the answers you need.

Why Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise?

Do I need a passport for a cruise is a great question. You will need one to enter a foreign country on an international cruise. A passport gives officials proof of who you are as well as proof of citizenship. They cannot let you into their country without both of those things. Or, if you are taking an international flight to or from a cruise port, you will also need a passport.

However, if you are boarding in a U.S. port and disembarking in a U.S. port, known as a “closed-loop cruise,” you don’t need a passport. The cruise line requires a passport or an EDL (Enhanced Driver’s License) or a government-issued birth certificate issued by the government from the state you were born. 

How Can I Tell If My Driver’s License Is An EDL?

Compliant ID licenses have a star on the card at the top. The best way to know for sure if you have an ID-compliant license is to check the Department of Revenue for your state. 

Do I need a passport for a cruise if I have an EDL? If you have a cruise coming up and it is a “loop cruise,” you don’t need a passport because you can go with only an EDL license or a birth certificate. 

do i need a passport for a cruise license
This image is an example of what the star looks like on an EDL REAL ID.

The EDL requirement will change on May 3, 2023; anyone 18 or older must have a REAL ID to fly on domestic flights. You cannot pass a TSA security checkpoint without one. 

How Can I Get A Passport And Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise?

There are 2 ways to apply for a passport; however, there are some stipulations that we will cover in a moment.

  1. You can apply in person at your local post office 
  2. You can apply online at travel.state.gov

Passport Stipulations For Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise

The stipulations I spoke of above require you to apply for a passport in person if:

  • If you are under 16 years old
  • Or this is the first time you will apply for one in the U.S. 
  • Also, if you had a passport but were less than 16 years old
  • If you had a passport that was damaged, lost, or stolen
  • Or your last passport was longer than 15 years ago
  • And if your name is changed or there is no legal document of a name change

Even though you will need to apply in person, you can prepare all the documents and fill out the application online. 

What Documents Shall I Get?

So to begin, let’s talk about the documents you will need so you can get all of them ready to go.

  • You will need your official birth certificate, which is your state-issued birth certificate or certificate of naturalization, or a consular report of your birth in another country. Whichever document applies to your U.S. citizenship.
  • Also, you will need an ID issued by the government, such as a driver’s license, which you will need to make a front and back copy to hand in with your application.
  • Next, it is time to get a passport photo. You can get one at Walgreens, UPS store, CVS photos, and numerous other places. Even a photo from your phone is allowed. But a passport photo has strict guidelines. These guidelines are on the government site and will answer part of the question, “Do I need a passport for a cruise.”

Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise? Yes, but the guidelines for a passport photo are strict and extensive. They will not accept your photo if you do not explicitly follow the rules. It may be easier to have it taken at a designated passport photo place. 

  • You will need money to pay for the passport. Forms of payment you can use are cash, a credit card, a money order, or a check. On the government site is a calculator to determine how much the fee is. Just answer a few simple questions regarding do I need a passport for a cruise to find the amount you will need to pay. It can range from $80 to $145, depending on your age and what you need. An expedited passport can cost as much as $227, depending on the calculated fees. 

 The Next Step – How Do You Get A Passport?

So you have all the documents you need in hand. Now, click on this link travel.state.gov. It will take you to the online passport application process. Then click on the second box that says “Get U.S. passport.” 


You can download and print the application from the site link above; however, DO NOT sign it if you are required to apply in person. A person at the post office will need to see you physically sign the form. 

Next, print the application and fill it out. At this point, do you have to have a passport for a cruise? Not just yet, because now you need to apply in person for your passport, but you don’t have one just yet.

Call or go to your local post office to see if they accept passport applications and if you need an appointment. After you apply in person, you are all set to wait for your passport to arrive in the mail. 

So, if you are planning an international cruise, please allow up to 11 weeks to receive your passport. But if you need an expedited passport, you are in business. To get one fast, you will still need to allow 2 weeks for processing.

Expedited Passport

At times you may need an expedited passport. There are 2 situations where the government allows one to apply for a fast passport. If you follow this link, you will see the first 2 boxes and choose from one of these. 

The first box is for medical emergencies or family emergencies and life-and-death situations, while the second is for travel plans within 14 days. These expedited applications for Do I need a passport for a cruise require an appointment, but there is no guarantee you will get an appointment.

FAQ Section for “Do I Need A Passport for a Cruise?”

Navigating the world of travel can sometimes feel like navigating a maze, especially when it comes to understanding travel requirements. One question we frequently encounter is, “Do I need a passport for a cruise.” To help make your planning process smoother, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions on this subject.

Do I need a passport for all cruises?

Not all cruises require a passport. This largely depends on the cruise itinerary. For “closed-loop” cruises, ones that begin and end at the same U.S. port, you can use a government-issued ID and birth certificate instead. However, for international cruises or cruises that begin and end at different ports, a passport is generally required.

What are the potential issues if I cruise without a passport?

While you can take a “closed-loop” cruise without a passport, it might complicate things if an emergency arises and you need to fly back to the U.S. from a foreign country. In such cases, a passport is essential. Furthermore, some countries on your cruise itinerary may require a passport for entry, even if your cruise doesn’t.

Can I use other forms of ID instead of a passport for a cruise?

For closed-loop cruises starting and ending in the U.S., passengers can use a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license, and proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate. However, we highly recommend having a passport as it is widely accepted and can help expedite unforeseen situations like emergency travel.

Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise Quick Video

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs, and troubleshooting on cruises, here are some additional posts about cruises:

Do I Need A Passport For A Cruise – Conclusion

Do I need a passport for a cruise? Yes, you will need a passport for most cruise ships. Although you can apply for a passport, it does take time and requires a few documents. Please allow plenty of time so you can make your trip and not have undue stress. 

Happy travels, my friends.

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Laura Fuller

Hello, I am a luggage and travel fanatic. With a vast knowledge of TSA regulations, I am here to assist you on your journey. Please join me, and together, we will navigate the world of travel. From TSA and air to cruising the high seas, we will explore the best accessories and tips for smooth travel.

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