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Earlier this year, my wife and I went to Puerto Rico and had a blast. One of the big questions that I asked myself before we left was “Do you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?”
Do you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?
Luckily, the answer to this is pretty easy – if you are a US citizen, then in most cases, no, you do not need a passport to go to Puerto Rico!
You don’t need a passport to go to Puerto Rico – if you’re a US citizen, it’s the same as just traveling to Florida, Hawaii, or any other US state. US citizens won’t need to show a passport to enter or leave Puerto Rico – though the State Department recommends bringing a government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license) as well as a birth certificate. Personally, when we were there, we had no reason to ever show our birth certificate.
Also, the airport taxes and fees to go to Puerto Rico are the same as traveling domestically as well – you only pay the $5.60 TSA fee each way. That was one reason we chose Puerto Rico when I was just looking for somewhere warm for us to go. I had a hard time paying $100 or more PER PERSON just to go somewhere warm – Puerto Rico’s price was just right!
When US citizens do need a passport to go to Puerto Rico
Generally US citizens do not need a passport for Puerto Rico travel, but there is one case where even a US Citizen would need a passport to go to Puerto Rico – and that’s when you travel there by way of a foreign country. Here’s an example of flying United from Houston to Puerto Rico by way of Panama City.
Now I don’t think that specific itinerary doesn’t actually exist – I was having a hard time finding any actual published flights that go from the US mainland to Puerto Rico by way of another country, so this is just an example. If you do have an itinerary like this, you will want to make sure it’s on a US carrier, or you might run into problems with cabotage. In any case, if you’re a US citizen and entering Puerto Rico from a foreign country, you will need to show your US Passport in Puerto Rico, but you can go through the Domestic Arrivals entry.
Do you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico if you’re not a US Citizen?
So far, we’ve been talking about US citizens, but for non citizens, the rules are the same as if you were entering any other port of entry of the United States. If you are a US resident but have a foreign passport, you’ll need to bring that as well as a valid visa or your residence certificate.
Non-US citizens entering Puerto Rico would be subject to a customs search upon your first entry to the United States from a foreign country, but not upon any subsequent trips. So if you flew from London directly to Puerto Rico, you would be subject to customs, but not if you flew from London to New York and then from New York to Puerto Rico (you would have already been subject to customs in New York)
What about Puerto Rico money?
It may seem obvious to some, but Puerto Rico, as a US territory, operates on the dollar, so if you’re coming from the mainland, the only Puerto Rico money that you’ll need is the US dollar – no need to change to any kind of special Puerto Rico currency.
We were there for 3 days and you can see how much our “free” trip ended up costing us.
Will my cell phone work in Puerto Rico?
Wondering if your cell phone will work in Puerto Rico? Yup, there shouldn’t be a problem with your phone working in Puerto Rico. You’ll be billed domestic rates for voice. I have seen that while AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all have a presence in Puerto Rico, Verizon left the Puerto Rico market a few years ago. The phones still work for voice, but I have seen reports in both directions as to whether you can get Verizon 3G to work on your cell phone in Puerto Rico.
Hopefully this answers your questions about if you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico as well as other questions about visiting the island! Go for it – it’s a beautiful place and we really enjoyed our time there!