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Do You Need a Passport to Go to Puerto Rico?
It's a Yes and No - Both!
Puerto Rico is a picture-perfect paradise blanketed with glorious palm-lined beaches and lush inland beauty. So those who are wondering, “can I go to Puerto Rico without a passport as an American citizen?” This blog is for you!
In addition, we will also cover the important documents required for non-United States citizens to enter Puerto Rico. Plus, what documents do lawful permanent residents (green card holders) need to travel to Puerto Rico?
Let us throw a light on the main topic – do you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico. Well, you don’t need a passport to enter Puerto Rico if you are a United States citizen. But still, you need some other documents like a government-issued photo id. It could be a driver’s license or birth certificate. We will discuss Puerto Rico’s entry requirements for American citizens in a distinct section. Continue reading!
But if you talk about the entry requirements for non-US citizens, they need a passport. However, there is a mind-blowing exception here. For example, if someone is coming from a foreign land like Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda, Marshall Island, or United States Virgin Islands, neither they need a visa or passport.
On the flip side, if you belong to a foreign country, including Hungary, Japan, Ireland, Poland, and Norway, you are in for a treat. You don’t need to apply for a visa to Puerto Rico because it’s easy to obtain from the immigration checkpoint in Puerto Rico. In addition, even if you are a United States citizen but coming from a foreign port, you need to show your passport at the airport.
Let’s break each of those important travel details for entering Puerto Rico into subheads. Plus, we will also talk about hurricane season, cell phone service, official languages, and the validity of passports to go.
Where Is Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico is roughly a thousand miles from Florida and has been a United States Territory since 1898 after the US won over the Spanish. But Puerto Rico is not the mainland, and hence, it is not a state.
What Does It Feel Like Visiting Puerto Rico?
You must visit Puerto Rico to take a digital detox from the monotonous life. In addition, Puerto Rico has a quality tourism infrastructure. Even the heritage structures like 16th century San Felipe del Morro Castle and crescent-shaped beaches are fun for surfing, swimming, and romantic stroll.
The real icing on the cake is the beachfront hotels in Puerto Rico that are a destination in themselves. Compared to other Caribbean destinations, Puerto Rico has a hidden jungle retreat tucked amidst the winding mountain passes. You need to know the passport documentation requirements if you come from a foreign destination to Puerto Rico.
Is Puerto Rico Part of the United States?
Puerto Rico’s commonwealth is legally part of the United States, where 3.2 million (approx.) residents are US citizens. But it has complicated political status as Puerto Rico was once a Spanish colony until the United States conquered states in the war in the 1890s.
The only thing about Puerto Rico citizens is they can’t vote in Presidential Elections. But the local laws apply, and citizens can access the U.S Postal service with full ease. This displays that Puerto Ricans enjoy citizenship and the same rights after becoming a non-incorporated US territory.
Why Don’t US Citizens Need a Passport/Visa to Enter Puerto Rico?
First of all, American citizens most often don’t need a visa to travel to the majority of the countries in the world. Their status of US citizenship is a testimony to how a country’s wealth adds wings to its citizens’ freedom. Secondly, Puerto Rico itself is enjoying the status of a non-incorporated United States territory.
As a result, traveling to Puerto Rico from American states counts as domestic travel. Additionally, if you want to commute between US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, bring your official ID and dodge the United States Customs. This is applicable only if you travel directly from the mainland.
Side Note: American citizens must verify the passport requirements to go to American Samoa, Swains Island, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam from Puerto Rico.
Can You Go to Puerto Rico Without a Passport?
Puerto Rico has been privileged to have the status of the non-incorporated territory of the United States since 1898. This means domestic travel as an American citizen is hassle-free. Even lawful permanent residents with a green card or LPR status don’t need a passport as an entry requirement in Puerto Rico. However, certain documents are required to show even for the American citizens and lawful permanent residents.
What Documents Do You Need to Go to Puerto Rico?
According to United States Customs and Border Protection, everyone must bring a few important documents or travel to Puerto Rico. We will break the documents in for non-U.S. citizens, American citizens, and people with LPRs status. Put on your reading glasses and scroll on:
Entry Documents Required for American Citizens
Although you don’t need to bring a passport, you need to present your driving license and birth certificate.
Entry Documents Required for Non-US Citizens
Suppose you are coming from a foreign destination, and you must obtain the U.S.-approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). In this visa waiver, 4o countries and their people enjoy the privilege to stay in Puerto Rico or any other US territory for up to 90 days. However, you can increase it by paying the extra cost at the passport office.
You need to obtain a visa and show your passport to enter Puerto Rico most of the time. But in some exceptional cases, like if you are coming from Andorra, Austria, the Czech Republic, or Australia, you don’t need to obtain a visa.
And if you are planning to traverse from Palau, Federal State of Micronesia, count yourself lucky as you don’t need a passport or an ESTA.
Entry Documents for Puerto Rico for Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)
With LPRs status, you can permanently live and work in the United States. This is called the Lawful Permanent Residents, which a person gets as a Green Card status.
Suppose you have the special status of LPRs under your sleeves. In that case, you need to bring valid immigration papers and follow the same process as when visiting the United States mainland. According to the CBP advice, your valid immigration papers are a great compensation to prove you are a native citizen of America.
Entry Documents for Puerto Rico for Non-Immigrants
Non-immigrant is the term aka status coined for the people who enter the United States temporarily from work travel. With a valid US visa copy and a passport copy in your pocket, non-immigrants can easily visit Puerto Rico without any hindrance.
Can You Travel to Puerto Rico With a Driver’s License?
Only American citizens will unlock the reward of traveling to Puerto Rico with a driver’s license. The US Department of Motor Vehicles issued this license to native citizens. Furthermore, US citizens can commute anywhere within the United States with a driving license under the valid real id act.
Best Time to Visit Puerto Rico
Any time of the year is a good time to visit Puerto Rico because it’s a tropical destination. But still, people want to know specifically if hurricane season in Puerto Rico is safe or not. Unknown to many that hurricane season starts in Puerto Rico from June until November. However, hurricanes are not often in Puerto Rico like other Caribbean destinations. The best bet? You can score good deals on accommodations.
Cell Phone Service
Have you purchased your SIM card and mobile from the United States mainland? Then jump with joy because your cell phone service will work trouble-free in Puerto Rico without extra cost. However, you might face a challenge with few network operators. So plan accordingly.
English and Spanish are the official languages widely spoken in Puerto Rico in the present scenario. Remember, Puerto Ricans claim Spanish as their first official language and then English next in the loop. It’s because Puerto Rico was once a Spanish colony.
Currency in Puerto Rico
The good news for international travelers is they don’t need to convert their currency because Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. People commute, eat and stay using US dollars, and the US dollar is the backbone of the Puerto Rico currency.
First of all, Puerto Rico has two International airports – San Juan International Airport and Rafael Hernandez Airport. So it is pretty much clear that the local commute within Puerto Rico will be top-notch. Commute options are endless, from rental cars to self-driven vehicles and ferries.
Is Puerto Rico Safe?
From the eye of local or international travelers, Puerto Rico is one of the safest Caribbean islands. Other than the hurricane and earthquake patterns, like-minded foreign travelers love to explore Puerto Rico all year round. However, you need to apply your common sense at the heart of every destination you visit.
Final Words – Do You Need a Passport to Go to Puerto Rico?
Ensure to read the latest travel guidelines before you go to Puerto Rico. You might see fluctuations in the same regarding other countries and native US citizens. If someone from a foreign country is planning a trip to Puerto Rico, then it is a safe bet to review your passport requirements. Especially if you come from the United States disputed regions.
And if you are planning to bask in the bounteous beauty of Puerto Rico as a Native American, bring a government-issued ID like a driving license or birth certificate.