A passport is not required by the government for a closed-loop voyage. However, all cruise lines highly advise possessing a passport, and some demand one before embarking. An earlier blog entry established that convicts may acquire passports, and another stated that offenders are permitted to leave the United States. Thus, a convict could sail on a cruise ship if they obtained a passport.
Is a passport required? We recommend that everyone embarking on a cruise from the United States have a passport book with them. Though certain "closed-loop" cruises may not need a US passport, we recommend taking yours in case of an emergency, such as an unexpected medical air evacuation or the ship landing at a different port. You can download a passport form to fill out before you leave home and then drop it off at a US consulate or embassy before your trip.
Who needs a visa? Most countries require their citizens to have a valid passport and to meet other identity requirements to enter or remain in another country. The same rules apply to cruise passengers as they do for tourists - except that since cruises are considered short visits, most countries treat them as a single destination rather than a whole country. Therefore, no visa is usually needed for most Canadians, Europeans, and Americans who want to visit Puerto Rico or Mexico by cruise ship.
You'll need to make an appointment with a local consulate to report your loss or give them time to issue you with a new one. It can take up to 60 days to get a new passport, so don't wait until the last minute.
In the event that you lose your passport, here's what to do: contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the country where you lost it. They will be able to advise you on how to proceed.
US residents traveling on "closed-loop" cruises do not need a passport, but they will need evidence of citizenship, such as an original or certified copy of a birth certificate, a certificate of naturalization, a passport card, an enhanced driver's license (EDL), and a government-issued picture ID. If you are not a US citizen, you must have proof of citizenship if you are going abroad; otherwise, you might not be allowed to enter certain countries.
On most ships, the purser can issue a passport card for you to carry with your photo ID. These cards are valid for five years and can be used instead of a passport at any immigration checkpoint. The card does not replace a real passport, but it may help expedite the visa process at certain ports.
If you forget your passport on board, contact the nearest port authority immediately. They will be able to inform you whether or not it was lost in transit and, if so, when another vessel will be arriving at its destination port. You can then proceed there with a valid form of identification.
The last time this service was offered on some ships was in 2007 when American Cruise Lines changed their policies. Since then, many other lines have followed suit and stopped offering passports. However, if you choose a line that still provides this service, then it should be available to you whenever you need it.
Other than during an emergency, anyone lacking a passport should contact the nearest American Embassy or Consulate to arrange for one to be issued.
In addition to passports, certain other documents are required when you board a cruise ship. These include proof of identity and nationality if you are not a citizen of the United States, evidence of entitlement to enter the United States (such as a visa), and a credit card for deposit purposes. If you do not have these documents, it is recommended that you obtain them before you travel.
All passengers sailing into the United States must now complete a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) form called a CBP Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This form must be completed by all employers who want to verify employment eligibility. Further details regarding this requirement can be found on our Travel Web page.
If you are traveling to a U.S. port where CBP officers conduct immigration interviews, you should plan ahead to ensure that you have enough time to complete the interview process.
A closed-loop cruise, for example, is one that departs from Miami, Florida on a trip to Mexico (a foreign port of call) and returns to Miami. For cruise guests on a closed-loop trip, these foreign ports forgo the necessity for a passport. When you board your cruise ship in Miami, you will be given information about how to claim your baggage if you are leaving through customs there. If you are staying on board as a guest, you won't have to go through customs.
The majority of Mexican destinations are not required to issue passports, but rather use a visa waiver system called "Mexican Social Security Number" (SSN). This means that instead of requiring its citizens to obtain a visa or other type of permit to enter Mexico, it is enough to have an SSN. However, some countries may require their citizens who want to travel to Mexico with a cruise line to provide evidence of their identity and nationality. These countries include Australia, Canada, European Union nations, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.
If you are traveling to a Mexican port of call that requires a passport, then you should check with the cruise line before departing for your trip what documents they require.
Generally speaking, only U.S. citizens and those from Canada, Europe, Japan and most Latin American countries must submit a passport to travel to Mexico.