You Don’t Need a Passport to Travel to These 7 U.S. Territories!

The United States stretches across planet Earth farther than many realize. Many believe that the United States exists only on the continent of North America, because that’s what was covered in public school education. Some have no idea that the United States has territories that are technically other countries, on other continents, but are in fact a part of the U.S. 

There are people who want to travel and experience cultures in other countries but can’t. They may be impacted by one or more of the two handfuls of reasons covered below, that would restrict someone from getting a passport (required for out of country travel). Without that, traveling out of the country is not possible, unless traveling to a U.S territory. 

Traveling to a U.S territory means you’re technically still in the country, while traveling to another. Learn more about this below but first: something coming up that all of us with a U.S driver’s license/ state I.D need: The Real I.D.

The Real I.D are driver licenses and identification cards issued by U.S. states and territories for accessing federal government facilities, nuclear power plants, and for boarding airline flights in the United States. Starting May 2025, a regular driver’s license or state I.D will no longer be accepted to board flights of any kind. 

The only I.D that will be accepted at U.S airports will be the Real I.D if the traveler doesn’t have a passport, even for domestic travel. By 2025, one or the other will be required for travel.

What is a Passport?

This is a global document/book issued by the governments of countries that contains and certifies a person’s identity. Individuals have to apply for passports through their governments and wait for an approval or denial of the application (yes, “free” people have to apply and ask permission to leave the country). 

Credit: Thrillist

If approved, this document allows persons to travel from their country of citizenship/residence, to foreign countries. It can also be used for domestic travel in place of a Real I.D. If someone has both a Real I.D and passport, traveling within the country means you can leave the passport at home (this applies to the U.S).

Reasons a Passport Application Can Be Denied

As I stated above, a passport application can be denied. When applying, you are basically asking for permission to leave the country, while proving your identity. Here are some reasons a passport application can be denied:

  • The applicant didn’t complete the application in its entirety.
  • The applicant owes $50K+ in unpaid taxes. 
  • The applicant owes child support.
  • The applicant is a threat to national security.
  • The applicant has an unpaid federal loan (if the government gave you a loan when you were incarcerated and it hasn’t been paid back).
  • The applicant did not send in the correct amount to pay for the passport and its processing.
  • The applicant did not send in proper proof of identity.
  • The applicant did not send in a proper passport photo (best thing to do is apply and have the passport photo taken at a United States Post Office location).
  • The applicant used the wrong color pen (use black).

What is a U.S Territory?

The U.S took over these locations, similar to Game of Thrones. They are subnational “divisions” (America is a trip), overseen by the U.S federal government. Possessions are what America considers these “divisions”. These “divisions” are actually countries, some on other continents (more on that below). 

The Puerto Rico Report explains it as: A territory doesn’t have the rights, responsibilities, or powers of a state or a nation. It has no sovereignty of its own. It’s just a possession.”

U.S Territories= United States and No Passport is Needed to Visit These Places 

There are 8 United States territories, and 7 of them do not require a passport to travel in and out of. Traveling to these countries, now United States territories, is just like flying from Florida to Georgia, California to Montana, New York to Oregon, and so on. 

Credit: Youtube 

Traveling to these countries now U.S territories simply requires a state I.D, and soon the Real I.D:

  • Puerto Rico. Including the islands of Culebra and Vieques; both islands of Puerto Rico, off the main island of Puerto Rico. Both are located in between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 
  • The Virgin Islands. There are 7 islands that make up the Virgin Islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Salt Pond Bay, Crown Mountain, Coki Beach. The United States territories are: Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas. The other Virgin Islands belong to British Columbia; Hence the abbreviations: USVI and BCVI. 
  • The Northern Mariana Islands: Located on the continent of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean, is a sub region of Micronesia, and consists of a set of 14 islands: Saipan, Guguan, Rota and Tinian. Farallon de Medinilla, Anatahan, Sariguan, Gudgeon, Alamagan, Pagan, Agrihan, Asuncion, Maug Islands, and Farallon de Pajaro. Some of these islands are uninhabited and volcanic. Interested fact,
  • States of Micronesia. Located on the continent of Oceania in the western Pacific Ocean and consists of 600 islands (I believe the Mariana Islands are grouped in with this since those islands are a sub region of Micronesia). The islands that are States of Micronesia therefore U.S territories are: Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap. 
  • Guam. It’s listed separately but Guam is a part of the Mariana Islands, the southernmost  island, is the largest island in Micronesia, and is on the continent of Oceania. 
  • Republic of Marshall Islands. More territories on the continent of Oceania. These are volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines. There are 1,225 islands that make up the republic. Many of these islands are reef systems. 
  • Republic of Palau. Part of the Micronesia Islands, east of the Philippines, and a tourist attraction. The Republic of Palau has 500 islands located on the continent of Oceania. Many of the islands are unhabitable; the main island is Koror.

American Samoa is another U.S territory but traveling here requires a passport. American Samoa is a set of 7 islands in the South Pacific, south of the equator: Tutuila, Aunu`u, Ofu, Olosega, Ta`u. Ofu, Olosega, and Ta`u. 

Quick chat on Hawaii and Alaska. They are states now, but:

  • Alaska, used to be Russia until 1867 when the United States purchased the territory from Russia for $7.2M. It was a U.S territory like the territories above until 1959 when it became the 49th state. 
  • Hawaii, native spelling, Hawai’i, wasn’t a part of the United States until 1893 when their monarch was overthrown. In 1898 they became a U.S territory, like the territories above, and in 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state. 

Visas and U.S Territories

A visa is a conditional authorization placed within a passport that grants the person official permission to enter, leave, or stay in a country for a certain period of time. Depending on the country, a visa may need to be applied for prior to traveling; in other countries, they can be issued upon arrival. 

U.S Citizens traveling from a United State to a U.S Territory do not need to apply for visas. In American Samoa, if a U.S citizen is staying for 90 days or less, no visa is required; longer stays will require a visa. 

Final Words

This serves as a guide, not legal advice. I recommend checking out the hyperlinks below to learn more about traveling to United States Territories as a United States Citizen, with whatever your situation is and the destinations you want to travel to in mind. 

List of U.S territories that people can travel to

Applying for a passport.

Visa requirements and U.S Territories.

The Real I.D requirement

Credit: Florida Highway Safety

Written by: Veronica Castillo; the Traveling Cannabis Writer

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