Passport Rules for Cruisers ... Changed Again

June 21, 2007

Last week, the U.S. government eased up on rules requiring passports upon re-entry into the country from airline travelers returning from trips to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Now, an upcoming new rule that would affect cruise travelers has been postponed.

That rule stated that all cruise passengers returning to the United States from voyages that called at ports in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean must have a passport by January 1, 2008. But because of massive delays in issuing new passports for air travelers -- whose deadline was actually January of this year -- the cruise-related requirement has been dropped indefinitely. No new deadline has been established.

This is not the first time that new passport rules for cruisers have been delayed.

The relaxing of this rule, it must be emphasized, only affects U.S. citizens who are cruising to the countries noted above. In other cases, for instance on Atlantic crossings or trips to South America that end at a U.S. port, passports have always been (and still are) required.

Though the government did postpone its air-related deadline (this only impacts travelers who have applied for passports but have not received them due to the massive backlog), passports will be required from all beginning in September. In the meantime, folks who are still waiting for passports but who have trips planned must provide proof of their application, which can be obtained here.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor