Even without a passport, United States travelers can explore some fascinating corners of the world. Although a passport is necessary to access nearly 200 countries, there are still several destinations you can travel to until you’re passport-ready.
Unfortunately, passport applications currently face significant delays of up to 12 weeks, impeding travel plans. However, it is not necessary to give up on the idea of an exciting vacation altogether.
While international destinations may be off-limits without a passport, there are still some places that U.S. travelers can visit using their state-issued ID.
Places You Can Go Without A Passport
The United States comprises five inhabited territories year-round: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
American Samoa requires a passport, but United States travelers can visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico without a passport, as per the federal government.
The U.S. Virgin Islands offer stunning white sands and island vibes on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Visitors can soak up the sun and explore tropical reefs in crystal-clear waters.
The Northern Mariana Islands boast a mix of serene beaches and exhilarating mountains ideal for hikers.
In Puerto Rico, tourists can delve into the history and culture of San Juan or venture into the El Yunque tropical rainforest for an exciting adventure.
Per the entry and exit regulations stated by Guam, U.S. citizens visiting the territory must possess a passport, although “photo I.D. and proof of citizenship may be accepted” on a case-by-case basis. Aside from its historical significance related to World War II, Guam boasts splendid beaches that are worth exploring.
What About Cruises Within U.S. Territories?
Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor, mentioned that closed-loop cruises are a unique travel opportunity that allows people to explore different places but can be challenging to arrange. Only a few companies offer this type of cruise, making it a less appealing option than it appears.
According to Greenberg, closed-loop cruises involve a ship departing from a port in the United States and returning to another port in the United States, which happens infrequently.
The Jones Act, a 1939 legislation, stipulates that any non-U.S.-registered ship cannot travel directly between two U.S. ports without first stopping at a foreign port. Greenberg explained that most cruise ships are not registered in the United States, subjecting them to this law.
Closed-loop cruises is a misleading term, as it is technically possible but not a popular choice among cruise companies.
What To Remember About Passports
Passport delays can still impact your travel plans even if you already have a passport.
Most countries require passports to be valid for at least six months beyond the duration of your trip. Therefore, if your plans do not meet this requirement, renewing your passport as soon as possible is crucial.
Additionally, some countries require two blank pages in your passport for entry, so you’ll need a new passport if you don’t have those.
Despite the challenges, Greenberg advised that having a passport is a worthwhile investment as the number of places that you can travel without it is limited.