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Do I need a passport for a cruise to Mexico?

by Michelle
(CIncinnati, Ohio)

Question: Going on a cruise in two weeks and have never had a passport. I'm aware I can have one expedited using a service but don't want to incur extra costs if not necessary.

Do I need a passport to get into Mexico off of a boat that sailed out of the US and returns to the US? Also, is there a place in Cincinnati that I can go to directly instead of using a service on the Internet?

Answer: While a valid passport book or passport card is generally required to travel beyond the border zone of Mexico and to travel by sea, there are exceptions.

First, the consular services section of the Mexican embassy states, "U.S. citizens entering Mexico by sea may enter without such documents if they are visiting port towns for a short visit. They should present a valid passport or passport card if they travel beyond these port towns."

Second, passengers of closed-loop cruises are also not required to present passports. A closed-loop cruise is one that begins and ends in the same port city.

Having said that, a valid passport may still be required. It depends on 1) whether or not the cruise will stop at other locations that do require one and 2) whether or not the cruise line on which you will be traveling require you to have a valid passport.

If your cruise will stop at other places, please verify the foreign entry requirements for each destination. You should also contact the cruise line concerning their travel document requirements.

Finally, if you are required to obtain a passport, you would either have to visit a regional agency or employ the services of a professional expediter in order to get it within two weeks. There is no agency in Cincinnati. You would be required to travel to either Detroit, Chicago or, possibly, the location from which your cruise depart (e.g., Miami).

If you do need the assistance of a passport expediting service, you should apply asap in order to get the best rate. Note, you can use a passport card on a cruise which has a much lower application fee.

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