When NOT having a passport to cruise, what to use

I have requested to renew my passport for our early January cruise in 2022. I never thought anything about "expediting" it, until I read later that it takes many weeks to get a passport back.

We are to be cruising to the Caribbean, and my question is have you ever cruised with just your birth certificate and driver's license? I was told that if my passport (hope it DOES come) doesn't come in time, I could use these two items.

13 Answers

I would think that much depends on where you are going. I personally would never travel without my passport. If I were in a pickle like this I would first seek an expedite on the processing. And if that looks like it might be chancy, I would go directly to your nearest passport agency and get it while you wait. I would never risk travelling with just a BC and DL.

FWIW: I would contact the passport agency and see what your options are at this time given that your application has already been submitted.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

BILGE has it right...depends on where you're going...most of the time you can get away with a state issued DL with picture, your birth cert with raised seal not a copy...you can google where your cruise is going and whether or not you can get away with those, and if they'll let you return...as an afterthought, I suppose there are folks who cruise without a passport, but who knows what the bureaucrats at the terminal will do... think I'd lose my mind if I had to do that...Passport applications including renewals are up to 18 weeks plus...emphasis on the plus..and I'm getting conflicting "stories" about "going" to a passport agency, depending on where you live....as far as calling them...lay in a fresh pack of smokes and a pot of coffee...if you indulge in either....yeh, by all means...good luck.....

Hello, thank you for your replies. Actually I LOST a lot of sleep over this, and finally called my cruise agent here in KC. She then contacted RCL, and they said since we are cruising to San Juan, and leaving San Juan, "if" I don't have the passport, I should be alright. Do I WANT it before January yes, so time will tell. I understand any passport request (I sent it through our local P.O.) that comes from KC, goes to N.H. I believe. I tried to Google and find out if there was a number to reach that area, but nothing came up. I did call over a month ago the main Passport number, and the lady could not tell me other than she thought I would be fine, and gave me information on how to expedite it. I did send the information requested, along with my credit card number, but I understand they will not use it, unless just necessary, so time will tell.

It depends on where you're going. In Puerto Rico, for example, you wouldn't need a passport to cruise there (assuming you're from the US) since Puerto Rico is a US territory. By rights, they are US citizens. By the same token, they wouldn't need passports to travel here to the US either.

However, in some places, this may not be the case and you will need to check with the cruise line to find this out.

In my case as I am not a US resident but reside in the great white north a passport is a must just to enter the states in order to get to the ship.

CruiseQueenNH, Yes, I am am USA Citizen, as I was born here years ago in Missouri. My agent DID check with RCL, and they did say as long as I had a birth certificate and new new type of drivers license with the STAR (I just got this), then I should be OK. I am still hoping for the passport to arrive. :)

Yes it is true on most closed loop USA homeport cruises that a US citizen does not need a passport book and can instead use what is considered WHTI compliant alternative forms of ID and proof of nationality. Another key element is the passenger can only disembark in ports that participate in the WHTI agreement if they do not have their passport book (some ports non-agreement nations like Martinique will allow passengers without a passport book to visit, but only within the secured port area).

Photo Identification is required of all passengers 16 years of age and older. Must include given and surname, date of birth, and a clear expiration date, The following are acceptable:

Driver's License (a temporary Driver's License with photo is acceptable); or Driver's Permit; or School/Student I.D. for minors16 -18; or U.S. Military I.D. with photo, (Military Dependent IDs are no longer accepted); or A city/state/federal non driver's ID card; or Tribal/Reservation resident ID

Note: The name on the Photo ID must match the given and surname on the booking/passenger manifest


A U.S. citizen, of any age, will need to be able to present either of these as proof of citizenship:

an original, notarized or certified copy of his or her birth certificate; or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issues by Department of State; or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Note: If the name on the proof of citizenship does not match the name on the photo ID legal name change document may also be asked for to show a clear linkage from birth name to current name. These may include marriage licenses, divorce decrees, adoption papers, and court vetted name changes filings. Also religious paperwork like Baptismal certificates and hospital certificates of birth are not acceptable. Voter registration cards or Social Security are not considered proof of citizenship.

Here is the list of the preferred documents:

U.S. citizen adult travelers can present a valid:

U.S. Passport; or Passport Card; or Enhanced Driver’s License as issued by Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, & Washington; or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST); or U.S. Military identification card when traveling on official orders; or U.S. Merchant Mariner document when traveling on official business; or Form I-872 American Indian Card; or Enhanced Tribal Card (when available).

Canadian citizen adult travelers can present a valid:

Canadian passport; or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST); or Enhanced Driver’s License as issued in in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, prior to the program being discontinued.

Note: The Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) allows you to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The EDL is only accepted at land and sea border crossings, not for air travel.

Just so you and others know that the DL with the star in the right hand corner is not a requirement, until May of 2023. Until then any government issued driver's license is acceptable as your proof of ID.

The DL with the star is known as a Real ID compliant driver's license, and it will be required to enter any federally controlled building after May 3rd 2023. This will included airports for domestic travel, courthouses, and some state level institutions. As of right now cruise ports are not specifically listed as they are controlled by state level port authorities.

Correct as usual MARYRED.............now THERES boondoggle "in progress" for you...MIllions of folks haven't a clue what that DL thing is about, millions more probably never heard of it, despite the fact the FED and some states keep splashing it against the wall every so often. ...the FED keeps granting extensions and waivers....signs go up signs come down...the rules keep changing...........hmmmmmm...sounds like this covid thing doesn't it???


CruiseQueenNH, Yes, I am am USA Citizen, as I was born here years ago in Missouri. My agent DID check with RCL, and they did say as long as I had a birth certificate and new new type of drivers license with the STAR (I just got this), then I should be OK. I am still hoping for the passport to arrive. :)


Key words here are: "SHOULD BE OK". All you need do is come across a PB (petty bureaucrat) who didn't get the word, or wants to show how important they are, or just plain don't know and won't admit it. To me, that is the risk you must be aware of. They are out there!

Therefore, a passport is the safest option and we hope and pray you can have yours in hand

when you're ready to cruise.

Please keep us posted on your passport status.


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