As Puerto Rico is considered a U.S. territory, anyone making a journey directly from the States to the Caribbean island isn’t considered to have left the United States. As a result, it’s not compulsory for travelers of any age who are U.S. citizens to bring a passport to Puerto Rico. However, ID requirements for children differ from those applied to adults, and vary according to the mode of transportation used to make the journey.
A flight to Puerto Rico is considered a domestic flight, meaning ID requirements for children are basic. While adults must be able to show photographic identification, such as a driver’s license or permanent resident card, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not require children under 18 to show any form of ID. Instead, they will be allowed to board their flight to Puerto Rico holding only a valid boarding pass.
Despite the lack of any requirement to hold compulsory ID, Customs and Border Protection recommends that travelers to U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, do carry some form of identification. For adults, this means photographic ID, but for children a birth certificate is sufficient. If your child is not traveling in the company of both parents, consider bringing a letter of permission from the absent parent, granting consent for the journey to avoid any potential difficulties.
If your child is making the journey to Puerto Rico via another country, including any of the Caribbean islands, ID requirements may be slightly different. Most Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico’s neighbors the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands, are part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative zone, which means your child can travel using her birth of naturalization certificate if traveling by sea. However, a valid passport book remains the only acceptable identity document for international air travel.
Closed Loop Cruises
If you travel to Puerto Rico on a cruise ship that begins and ends its voyage at the same U.S. port, the government deems you to have taken a “closed loop” cruise. These have specific ID requirements. For children, the only compulsory ID is some form of proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate issued by the Vital Records Department of the state in which the child was born. For newborns, staffers will accept the certificate issued by the hospital. However, you should still consider bringing your child’s passport book in case you have to return to the United States from another Caribbean island, such as in an emergency situation.