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Do You Need a Passport for Puerto Rico?


If you plan to travel to Isla Del Encanto soon, you might be wondering, “Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico?” 


If you are an American, no passport is required to enter this United States territory. You will only need proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or another form of identity such as a driver’s license or state I.D. card.


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Do You Need a Passport for Puerto Rico as an American Citizen?


Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico
Old town, Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico does not require U.S. citizens to carry a passport when traveling domestically within the island or between islands in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means it’s not a state but is still part of the country. The island has been an important strategic point since the Spanish-American War in 1898 when it was ceded along with Cuba and Guam to the U.S. It wasn’t until 1917 that Congress granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship.

You can enter Puerto Rico without documentation besides your driver’s license or photo I.D. The only time the law requires citizens to have a passport when entering Puerto Rico is when traveling from a foreign country to the island.


U.S. Permanent Residents


U.S. permanent residents do not need a passport to visit Puerto Rico, but they must have their green card when traveling there.

A green card is proof that an individual has permanent residency in the United States. It’s issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and can be used as identification at the airport or elsewhere.

If you don’t have any form of identification, you must apply for an entry permit before traveling to Puerto Rico. Apply at least 45 days before your trip. Your application will be processed within 24 hours after receiving it at the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.


Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico
Rojo Cabo


Minors


Traveling to Puerto Rico as a minor is one of the most fun ways to spend your vacation. However, it can be tricky because minors must meet certain legal requirements before traveling.

Generally, minors under the age of 16 do not need to have their passports. But if you are under 18 years old, you must have your parents or guardians fill out some paperwork. Also, if you are traveling with an adult who is not your parent or guardian, they will need to complete some paperwork.

If no adult is accompanying a child traveling alone, then that child will need to present documents proving they are eligible for travel without an adult companion (e.g., birth certificate; adoption papers; court order appointing legal guardian).


People Who Enjoy Visa-Free Travel to Puerto Rico


If you’re coming from one of the countries under the Visa Waiver Program, you will freely enter Puerto Rico without a visa. Nonetheless, you will need to have a passport.

You can apply for an expedited passport through the U.S. Postal Service by ordering Form DS-82 in advance. You will provide the additional fee required by the USPS, your application fee, and photos (included).

You can also send photocopies of your I.D. and your application form so that it’s already processed when it arrives at the office.


Foreign Nationals


When traveling to Puerto Rico, foreign nationals must have a valid passport issued by the government of their home country. Foreigners from any country who are not U.S. citizens must present a passport upon arrival at an airport in Puerto Rico, even if they only visit for a short period.

If a person does not have a passport, they may be denied entry into Puerto Rico and sent back to their home country.

Puerto Rican law requires that all visitors to the island have a passport issued by the government of their home country. Suppose you plan on going from one tourist attraction to another within Puerto Rico’s borders but do not possess a passport. In that case, local authorities could arrest or detain you until you can produce one.


Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico
Cueva Ventana


The Real ID Act


Starting May 3, 2023, a REAL ID Act compliant card will be mandatory for domestic air travel. Until then, you can use any form of identification such as a military I.D. card or enhanced driver’s license/I.D. Card issued by certain states to travel to Puerto Rico.

The REAL ID Act is a federal law that establishes stricter security measures for state-issued identification cards and driving licenses.

The Act requires the states to verify an applicant’s identity, establish proof of social security number and check criminal history through an FBI database. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been working with states since 2008 to help them comply with the REAL ID Act requirements.


Puerto Rico Travel: Other Things to Consider


In addition to having proper travel and immigration documents, you should consider several other things before traveling to Puerto Rico. These include:


COVID Vaccine Requirements


As of March 2022, travelers entering Puerto Rico from the United States are no longer required to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test at the airport.

However, the government still recommends wearing a mask during air travel to protect yourself from illnesses. Some local restaurants and malls might choose to continue requiring masks for their employees or guests; please respect their rules.


Currency


The official currency of Puerto Rico is the U.S. dollar, so you will not need to exchange money while there. The prices in Puerto Rico are similar to those in the United States, so you won’t feel like you have traveled to another world.

There are also many ATMs and banks where you can withdraw cash from your credit card or deposit money into your account.


Cell Phone Service


You’ll be able to call your friends and family back home since most U.S. cell phone service providers work in Puerto Rico. You do not need to get a new SIM card.

If you decide to get a local SIM card, you’ll need to choose between two main options: Claro or T-Mobile. Both of these companies operate under the same parent company (America Movil), and they both offer similar services at similar prices

It is always best to get your phone working before leaving to ensure everything works correctly before heading off on an adventure.


Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico
Mar Chiquita Beach


Driving in Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and thus U.S. citizens can drive with their U.S. driver’s license. Like most states, Puerto Rico has right-hand traffic but allows U-turns at many intersections and roads that are not divided by sidewalks or streetlights.

It also allows pedestrians to cross streets anywhere as long as they do not step onto traffic lanes — even if there are no crosswalks nearby — and requires them only


Hurricane Season in Puerto Rico


Hurricanes are a fact of life in Puerto Rico. The island experiences an average of two hurricanes yearly, four or five being more common.

Hurricanes can strike any time between June and November, but August and September are the worst months for them because they coincide with peak hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.


Language


There are multiple languages spoken in Puerto Rico, including Spanish and English. Some locals do not speak English fluently, so Spanish is your best bet if you travel to these areas.

You can probably get by in English if you visit San Juan or another large city. You might want to brush up on your Spanish skills before you go!


Booking Accommodation


If you book your accommodation in advance, finding a hotel or Airbnb that suits your needs and budget will be easier. Some hotels might offer to pick you up at the airport when you arrive, which can help save money on taxi fares.


Finding Your Way


Getting around San Juan, Vieques, and Culebra by car or taxi is easy. You’ll need a driver’s license and a credit card to rent a car. If you’re staying in the area for a while, renting a car is probably your best bet.

Public buses are cheap but don’t have fixed departure or arrival times, so it might take some time to get where you need to go.


FAQs


Here are some frequently asked questions about traveling to Puerto Rico.


Is It Safe to Travel to Puerto Rico?


Puerto Rico has been free from major natural disasters since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but there are still some safety concerns when visiting the island. The crime rate is higher than in the mainland U.S., so stay alert and beware of your surroundings during your trip.


What should I not bring back from Puerto Rico?


It is illegal to bring fresh, dried, or canned fruit or plant seeds from Puerto Rico to the U.S. It is also illegal to bring meat products (including eggs) into the mainland from Puerto Rico.


Is Puerto Rico’s Water Safe to Drink?


Yes, but it’s not advisable to drink from the tap. Bottled water is widely available and generally inexpensive. You can also bring your reusable water bottle and fill it up at a drinking fountain or visit one of the many free-standing fountains around town.


Wrapping Up – do you need a passport for Puerto Rico?


Puerto Rico is the perfect setting for a quick vacation with lots of things to do, a welcoming atmosphere, and a beautiful Caribbean island climate. Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico? No, you don’t need a passport to get there if you are an American national.


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