Do I Have to Take My Passport on a Cruise?

Do I Have to Take My Passport on a Cruise?

Swimsuit? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Hawaiian shirt? Check.

When it comes to packing for your cruise vacation, everybody knows the essentials. However, not everyone knows the rules when it comes to taking important documents with them on them ship. It may seem like a no-brainer to bring along your passport on a trip that leaves the country, but there are some instances where you don’t need it and some instances were you absolutely have to have it.

Here’s a quick rundown of when you need to take your passport or any other important citizenship or immigration documents on a cruise with you and when you don’t!

Do I Have to Take My Passport on a Cruise?

Look, if you’re leaving the country, then it’s always smart to bring your passport. While American citizens on a cruise that starts and ends at an American port don’t technically need a passport, we recommend bringing it anyway just in case. Closed-loop cruises, as they are known, only require proof of citizenship – a driver’s license or any Government issued picture ID or even a birth certificate work. For Americans, a passport is not necessary, even if you disembark the ship in foreign countries, so long as the cruise starts and ends in the good ol’ USA.

The risks of not having a passport do grow more significant if you’re going to get off the ship in foreign ports, however. Should something happen and you can’t return to the ship, you could have a very difficult time trying to catch an emergency flight home without a valid passport. Not that the task is impossible, it just requires finding the nearest U.S. Embassy and being patient while they get you sorted out.

RELATED: Travel Tips: Help! My Passport was Lost or Stolen

For non-citizens of these great United States, you absolutely, positively need a valid passport from your home country to cruise from any port in America. No exceptions.

Do I need my Green Card on a Cruise?

U.S. Alien Resident Cards, or “green cards” as they are known, are required for cruisers who hold resident status, but not citizenship. Cruise lines will deny boarding for those without their Green Card and it’s recommended that cruisers also carry with them a passport from their home country.

The bottom line? Just bring it all. If you aren’t sure if you need a certain document, bring it anyway. They generally don’t take up too much room in your suitcase and they can be a real lifesaver if you find yourself in an unanticipated situation. It’s your vacation, after all, so why would you take a chance and put yourself in a sticky situation when it’s all completely avoidable with just a little planning and foresight.