What you should know about traveling with a passport
Leaving the United States
A passport will be required for all travelers leaving the United States of America. You must have a valid passport that does not expire within 6 months of your departure date. This requirement is in place to make sure you are able to return to the US in case something goes wrong during your trip. This could be anywhere from injury to severe weather. Either way, preparedness is key.
A passport card is only valid when traveling by road between the US and Canada or the US and Mexico. Passport cards are mostly designed for commuters who travel between the two countries for work each day.
A passport is required for all international travel including but not limited to:
- All Caribbean islands (except Puerto Rico)
- South America
- Latin America
For a United States Citizen with a valid US passport, a passport is not required to visit Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands because these are US territories. However, we highly recommend bringing your passport with you anyway. Sometimes flights are diverted from these locations and the nearest airports are all other nearby island nations.
Make sure your passport is secure!!
- Leave it in your safe or keep it on your person at all times
- If you leave the hotel take your driver’s license rather than passport or make sure your passport is in a secure wallet, backpack or purse, preferably one that is attached to you in some way.
- Some countries will give you an immigration card or visa when you enter.
What to do if your passport goes missing
If you passport has been lost or stolen, contact your country’s Embassy immediately and follow their instructions. They are often able to issue an “emergency passport” for immediate travel and can re-issue a full passport, which arrives in the mail several weeks later.
If your passport was stolen, be sure to file a police report as soon as possible. Make sure you get a copy. You will need this to help get home.
For most US citizens, getting back into the US without a passport is possible. You’ll need to go through additional screening in both airports and you’ll still need to provide some form of identification. This process can be made much easier if you have a copy of your passport and a police report. Make sure to store your copy separate from your original passport.
Traveling to the US with a foreign passport
The specific visa requirements are different depending on which country you are traveling from. Be sure to check with your country’s State Department or Department of State at least 6 months prior to travel. Sometimes, the visa application process can be slow.