What Documentation
Do You Need for a Cruise?

Cruises are a fun and luxurious experience for the whole family. With so many activities and amenities at your fingertips, your time on the water couldn't get more exciting. While a cruise is a relaxing way to recharge, preparing for one can be just as stressful as preparing for international travel. So, let’s take a look at what documents you’re going to need for your vacation on the high seas.

Do You Need a Passport for a Cruise?

It depends on a few different factors. If you’re a United States citizen going on a “closed loop” cruise, you’ll only need to present:

  • Government issued photo identification
  • Proof of citizenship (an original or copy of your U.S. birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization)

A cruise is considered a “closed loop” if:

  • The cruise liner disembarks and returns to the same port within the United States
  • Doesn’t leave the Western Hemisphere
  • Only travels to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda

Keep in mind even on a closed loop cruise you may still be required to present a passport to enter the countries your cruise ship is visiting, especially if you plan to go ashore, so be sure to check with your cruise line to ensure you have all necessary documents.

What should you do if your cruise isn't a closed loop? If your cruise embarks or disembarks from foreign ports, including those in Canada, you’ll need your U.S. passport. The same goes for international cruises embarking and disembarking from different U.S. ports. Passport requirements can also be different if you decide to participate in on-shore excursions. So, if you have to cross a land or sea border into a foreign country, plan on bringing your passport.

One thing to consider when deciding whether to cruise without your passport is planning for worst case scenarios such as getting stranded in a foreign country while on your cruise. Only a passport will allow you to quickly fly back to the U.S. from a foreign port. If you only have a photo ID and a birth certificate with you, the process to get home takes more time and effort, and will likely require getting a temporary passport. There is no way of controlling the processing time of your temporary passport, meaning you may be stranded for longer than anticipated.

Do You Need a Visa for a Cruise?

For many cruises, like closed loop cruises, a visa isn’t required. But, just like with passports, this varies by country and port. While you can generally assume that you won’t need a visa, it would still be wise to check with your cruise company, especially if your cruise is outside of the Western Hemisphere or Europe. Some countries allow the cruise line to handle visas upon arrival in port. While in other cases your cruise line will only advise that you might need one. If you are still concerned about visa requirements, we recommend you check with official government websites for the countries you’ll be visiting.

If you know you’re going to need a passport for your cruise, or just want one so you’re prepared for potential emergencies, CIBTvisas can help.

CIBTvisas can guide you throughout the entire process of applying for your passport. Our team of expert immigration and visa professionals submit all of the required documentation on your behalf, greatly minimizing the length of time needed to process your passport, and ensuring all documents are correctly filled out and submitted. Learn more about how our passport services can serve you today!

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