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Does a minor need a passport for a cruise to the Bahamas?

by Joe

Question: My daughter will be 13 at the time of travel. We will be leaving Florida and going on a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas. We will then be returning to Florida.

Answer: There are a few things that you need to consider when taking a cruise.

1. Exiting and Re-entering the U.S.

According to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Land and Sea Final Rule, U.S. citizens on “closed loop” cruises are not subject to the same documentary requirements. A closed-loop cruise is one that begins and ends at the same port in the U.S.

If your family will be on a closed-loop cruise then you can exit and re-enter the United States with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. A U.S. citizen under the age of 16 only need to present either an original or a copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by DOS, or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If the cruise is not closed-loop then a passport will be necessary.

2. Entering and Departing Foreign Countries

While U.S. citizens who go on a closed-loop cruise do not need a passport to exit or re-enter the United States, you may still be required to present a passport when you dock at a foreign port, depending on the islands or countries that your cruise ship is visiting.

The Bahamian government only requires proof of citizenship and identity in order to enter The Bahamas. If the cruise ship will dock at any other country, you need to check the foreign entry requirements.

3. Cruise Line Requirements

Due to the progressive implementation and occasional modification of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, there is sometimes confusion concerning what the requirements are. Some cruise lines require all passengers to possess a valid passport. You should check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents for the stops you’ll be making on your cruise.

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