Travel Tips

5 min read

Do You Need A Passport To Go To Alaska? (By Car, Plane, or Boat?)

Planning a trip to Alaska by car, plane, or boat? Find out if you need a passport, REAL ID, or other documents for a hassle-free Alaska adventure.

Tobi Miles
July 2, 2022
Do You Need A Passport To Go To Alaska? (By Car, Plane, or Boat?)

Alaska brims with adventure, natural beauty, and a unique travel experience unlike many others in the United States. You can explore the tallest mountain in North America, see stunning glaciers, encounter awe-inspiring wildlife, and even go dog-sledding. Since it’s not part of the contiguous US, it’s not unusual for many to wonder if they need a passport to go to Alaska.

US citizens do not need a passport to fly to Alaska, but they will need a REAL ID starting May 3, 2023. International visitors will need a passport. US citizens driving through Canada to reach Alaska will need a passport to cross the Canadian border. If taking a cruise, you will need a passport if there are stops in Canada.

Traveling is supposed to be relaxing and fun, but sometimes, figuring out the necessary paperwork can make it stressful. Luckily, with a bit of reading before your trip, you can make sure to know before you go.

It’s also wise to always check with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the TSA before you finalize your vacation plans.

Is Alaska Considered International Travel for US Citizens?

Credit: Shutterstock

To fly in a straight line from the lower 48 states to Alaska is roughly 2,834 miles. Therefore, it can certainly make some people pause and wonder if it counts as domestic travel. Plus, it connects to an entirely different country (Canada).

But despite its geographic location, Alaska is part of the United States, and if you’re a US citizen, it isn’t international travel. You could consider driving to Alaska a partly international adventure since you’ll need to pass through Canada first.

Related Read: 15 Best Hiking Trails in Anchorage

What Documents Do I Need To Fly To Alaska?

If you’re traveling to Alaska directly from another US state, you only need a government-issued photo ID. Typically, a driver’s license will be adequate for US citizens.

If you don’t have a form of photo identification, you can use two non-photo forms of ID, such as a security card and a birth certificate. You can check the TSA’s website for a complete list of sufficient identification.

However, if your flight includes any layovers in Canada, you will need your passport book. You can usually find many direct flights from Seattle and Minneapolis.

If you are a US citizen traveling to Alaska from another country, you will need your passport. Likewise, you will need your passport book if you are an international visitor to Alaska. (A passport card is not sufficient).

International passengers must provide their full name, date of birth, gender, nationality, and country of residence. They also must show a valid travel document, which is most commonly a passport book, and their destination in the US.

Do I Need A Passport To Drive To Alaska?

Credit: ingimage

Driving to Alaska through Canada can make an unforgettable and beautiful road trip. You should also plan at least four days of travel if you decide to take the drive.

If you’re driving from the United States to Alaska, you’ll need a passport since you’ll cross the Canadian border. It's similar to Canadians crossing the US border to visit the New York side of Niagara Falls. You can also use your NEXUS Card or another WHTI-compliant document.

These documents include:

  • US Passports and Passport Cards
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses
  • Trusted Traveler Cards -- NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST
  • Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
  • Military Identification Card (for applicable personnel)

Related Read: 25 Romantic Things To Do In Seattle

Travel Restrictions for Alaska

Credit: Shutterstock

In June of 2022, the US stopped Covid testing requirements for all travelers flying in the US. As of March 26, 2022, people traveling within the US don’t need to show vaccination proof.

If you are currently positive for Covid-19, you cannot enter Alaska until your isolation period ends. Or, you need clearance from a medical professional or public health agency.

If you take a cruise to Alaska, check with your cruise line. Most major cruise lines are still requiring proof of vaccination or Covid-19 testing.

Some require passengers to take a test within one day of boarding. Therefore, check the specific regulations for your particular cruise.

Do You Need To Get a Vaccine To Go To Alaska?

All visitors to Alaska flying from another country must show proof of vaccination before they board their flight. The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after a single-dose vaccine or two weeks after your second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

If you plan to drive through Canada, the Canadian/US border currently requires all travelers to be fully vaccinated. Check out the CDC’s website for a more thorough look at vaccination requirements.

Credit: ingimage

Does A Child Need a Passport To Go To Alaska?

Children under 18 do not need identification as long as they travel with adults with proper ID. However, for safety reasons, it’s always wise for children to carry some type of identification in case they get separated from their party. If one parent isn’t accompanying the child, you must have a notarized approval statement that includes the travel dates.

Children traveling internationally will need a passport, regardless of age. US citizens under 15 years old traveling to Alaska by land or sea from Canada can show an original copy of their birth certificate. If you’re traveling with a newborn and don’t yet have a birth certificate, you can use a hospital-issued certificate.

Children 16 to 18 years old can also use an official birth certificate if they are traveling with an adult-supervised group. For example, a school or church trip, social club, etc.

Related Read: 50 Most Beautiful Places in the US

Can You Go To Alaska On A Cruise Without A Passport?

Credit: Shutterstock

If you’re a US or Canadian citizen taking a cruise to Alaska, you need your government-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship. Proof of citizenship can be your original birth certificate, a passport (even if it’s expired), or a naturalization or citizenship certificate.

But if your cruise plans to make international stops, you must have your passport. It’s also good practice to bring your passport on a cruise regardless of the requirements.

In an emergency, you might need to fly home from Canada or another country. If you didn’t have your passport, you would have a complicated situation on your hands.

Do You Need A Passport To Ferry To Alaska?

If you decide to use the Alaska Ferry, you won’t need your passport if traveling directly from an Alaskan port or Bellingham, Washington.  However, if you plan to disembark in Canada, you will need your passport. You'll need your alien registration receipt card if you are a US resident but not a citizen.

If you’re bringing your car on the ferry, you might need to show proof of title or vehicle registration. Officials may also ask to see your car’s current liability insurance. Therefore, to avoid delays, have this information with you just in case.

Any children under 12 years old must be with someone 19 or older. If a child is between 12 and 15 years old, they must be with someone 19 or older or have a completed Unaccompanied Minor Form.

Do You Need A REAL ID To Go To Alaska?

A REAL ID isn’t necessary to travel within the United States in 2022. However, starting May 3, 2023, all domestic flights in the US will require a REAL ID for travelers 18 and older.

You must verify your identity with several documents to get your REAL ID. These documents include your passport, birth certificate, or other qualifying forms of identification.

You also need to prove your legal address with specific documents. To learn about the specifics for getting a REAL ID in your state, contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Do You Need A Visa To Go To Alaska?

If you’re traveling to Alaska from the US, you won't need a visa. But non-US citizens might need a visa unless they are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program.

Travelers that hold a visa waiver can use it for multiple entries for up to 90 days at a time. It’s typically valid for two years.

The program applies to nationals or citizens of roughly 40 specific countries. You can see if you’re eligible and apply by visiting the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

If you plan to travel to Alaska internationally for more than 90 days, you’ll need a visa (regardless of the waiver program). Obtaining a visa can take about five weeks, so plan accordingly.

Credit: ingimage

Final Look At Needing A Passport To Go To Alaska

Flying directly to Alaska from another US state won't require a passport, and US citizens can simply use a driver's license as ID. Starting May 23, 2023, all US citizens 18 and older will need a REAL ID. International travelers of all ages must have a passport when traveling to Alaska.

If you're planning to drive to Alaska, you'll need a passport or other WHTI-compliant document to cross the Canadian/US border. You won't need a passport to ferry from Bellingham, WA, or any Alaskan port. But if you plan to disembark in Canada, bring your passport.

Likewise, you don't need a passport on a cruise unless it makes international stops. Although, carrying your passport is highly recommended in case of an emergency that would involve disembarking on foreign soil.

No matter how you plan to reach Alaska, plan ahead and leave enough time to gather necessary documents.  You don't want your relaxing vacation to end up stressing you out. Proper planning can help things go smoothly.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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