Puerto Rico is an island paradise, filled with glorious beaches, vibrant culture, and stunning scenery admired the world over. However, before you get carried away and start booking flights, you need to be aware of the passport requirements. Ask yourself do you need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?
What You Need to Enter Puerto Rico
Fortunately, for most US citizens, travel documents are remarkably simple. You won’t need a passport or visa to travel to Puerto Rico, as it is just the same as if you were traveling to another US state. While US citizens are not required to show their passport for entering or leaving Puerto Rico, the State Department does recommend taking a government-issued ID. Examples of this are your driver’s license and your birth certificate.
Most travelers never have a need to show their birth certificate, but it is useful to have, just in case you encounter any issues. You are also likely to find that the airport fees and taxes are very reasonable. This is due to them being the same as if you were traveling domestically, anywhere else in the US.
Scenarios Where You May Need Your Passport
There are some circumstances when a US citizen may be required to show their passport when traveling to Puerto Rico. The most common is when you are traveling via a foreign country. For example, if your flight is from Houston to Puerto Rico, via Panama City, you will need to ensure that you have packed your passport.
While this type of itinerary is not very common, it is important to check your flight schedule to be prepared. If your itinerary does mean you are traveling by way of a foreign country, it is a good idea to use a US carrier to avoid issues with cabotage. Since your flight will be arriving from the foreign destination, US citizens will need to show their passport when they arrive in Puerto Rico. However, you can still use the Domestic Arrivals entry point.
Tips for Non-US Citizens
If you are a non-US citizen, the rules are exactly the same as any US port of entry. If you hold a foreign passport but are a US resident, you will need to bring your residence certificate or a valid visa along with your passport.
As a non-US citizen entering Puerto Rico, you will be subject to a customs search. This applies to your first entry into the US from a foreign country, but it does not apply to subsequent trips. This means that if your flight is from Paris to Puerto Rico, you will be subject to customs. However, if you flew via New York, you would already have a customs search when you first entered US territory.
Since Puerto Rico is US territory, it operates on the dollar so you won’t need any special currency to pay for hotels or other travel expenditures. You should also find that your cell phone will have no issues in Puerto Rico. The major cell phone service providers have a presence, and you will be billed your standard domestic rates for calls. Just don’t forget to pack your cell phone charger!