When you book a cruise from the United States to a foreign destination, your cruise line will tell you what type of photo ID you need to board the vessel. The qualifying identification depends on the type of voyage, the ports of call on the itinerary and federal regulations for U.S. entry. Your cruise line must verify that you have these documents before allowing you to board the ship.
A closed-loop cruise leaves and returns from the same U.S. port and can make one or more stops at certain foreign ports. The federal government requires that passengers on closed-loop cruises provide proof of citizenship and a valid, government-issued photo ID card to return to the United States. A passport or an original birth certificate is the main proof-of-citizenship document that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency accepts for your reentry. Government-issued photo identification cards that satisfy this requirement include state driver’s licenses or identification cards and U.S. military IDs.
The U.S. government requires a valid passport for reentry for all U.S. citizens, including infants, who travel outside the country on a cruise that starts and ends at different U.S. ports and stops at foreign destinations en route. If your itinerary falls into this category, the cruise line will require passengers to present a valid passport before boarding.
Passport Books & Cards
All U.S. passport books have photos and serve as acceptable proof of citizenship unless they have expired. They are also tamper-proof, valid for all types of travel, and contain electronic strips that make them machine-readable. Introduced in 2008, passport cards issued by the U.S. government allow its citizens to travel by land or sea between the United States and Bermuda, the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada. At the time of publication, cruises line can't accept a passport card for voyages to Central and South America.
The cruise line might have different photo ID requirements for passengers who are U.S. permanent residents. The U.S. Legal Permanent Resident identification card, or "Green Card," is proof that the holder is a U.S. resident. When reentering the country, a permanent resident only needs to a present a Green Card, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Your cruise line can require that you present a passport for boarding, however, if any of the cruise’s ports of call require one. Even when a visa isn't necessary for U.S. citizens, the cruise line can require that you present your passport with the appropriate visas affixed to it, if your itinerary requires them.