Travel Tips

5 min read

Unlocking St. Thomas: No Passport, No Problem!

Ever thought of escaping to an island paradise without the passport pantomime? Let's dive into the tropical loophole that could land you in St. Thomas, no passport required! Keep reading and pack later.

Tobi Miles
May 28, 2022

St. Thomas is the jewel of the Virgin Islands known for its snorkeling, swimming, and sailing. The unforgettable Caribbean views, diverse history, and cultural influence can be felt anywhere you go on the island. With that said, travel requirements are important to understand so that nothing gets in the way of your dream vacation.

You don’t need a passport to go to St. Thomas if you are a U.S. citizen because it is a U.S. territory. All U.S. citizens must provide a valid ID to prove their citizenship to enter St. Thomas without a passport. COVID restrictions apply and you must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter St. Thomas.

Non-U.S. citizens must provide a passport, ID, and negative COVID test or vaccine card when traveling to the Virgin Islands. Proof of vaccination doesn’t apply to children between the ages of 2 and 17. Follow along as we explore all of the important details that you need to know to get into St. Thomas.

Credit: Shutterstock

Is St. Thomas Open for Travel?

St. Thomas is open for travel after it was briefly shut down in 2020. Restrictions have become much less strict since 2020 when there was a travel ban for vacations visiting St. Thomas. Travel institutions such as hotels and charter vessels were required to impose a 30-day ban in August of 2020.

They placed similar restrictions on nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. However, St. Thomas and the rest of the Virgin Islands are now reopened and accept travelers that provide proper documentation. You will be denied entry to St. Thomas if you are not vaccinated and your COVID test comes back positive.

COVID restrictions may eventually lighten up as they already have, but compliance is currently required. St. Thomas island discourages you from traveling if you have been exposed to COVID even if your test comes back negative if you experience symptoms.

Related Read: Best Time to Visit the Caribbean

Do You Need a Passport to go to St. Thomas?

You do not need a passport to go to St. Thomas as long as you are a United States citizen. It is part of the Virgin Islands which is a U.S. territory. It is legal for an American citizen to travel to a U.S. territory as long as they provide a valid form of identification.

Traveling to a U.S. territory is considered the same as traveling between states as a citizen. The Virgin Islands also include St. John and St. Croix and you don’t need a passport to reach those destinations either.

The only exception is that you must provide a passport if you are coming from a foreign country as a U.S. citizen. Even citizens must provide a passport if they depart the U.S., visit a foreign country, and go to St. Thomas from there. The best way to avoid this is to fly directly to St. Thomas without any detours to a foreign country.

Credit: Shutterstock

Documentation Requirements

Bring your government-issued ID or driver's license when you travel to St. Thomas a U.S. citizen. They will also accept a state-issued ID as long as it is valid and current. In some cases, they may request a copy of your birth certificate if there is a problem with one of your forms of identification.

However, that is rare and likely indicates that there is another problem that would prevent lawful entry. It is a good idea to bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate if you bring them to St. Thomas. Children don’t need to present an ID, but a copy of their birth certificate can make entry easier in some cases if there is a problem.

Failure to present proper identification that you are a U.S. citizen can prevent you from leaving St. Thomas. You will need a passport if you aren’t a U.S. citizen or if you are a U.S. citizen traveling from a foreign country.

St. Thomas Entry Requirements COVID

The COVID outbreak limited travel to St. Thomas and the rest of the Virgin Islands initially. Restrictions have slowly become more relaxed now that so much of the world’s population is vaccinated. With that said, St. Thomas still imposes strict entry requirements regarding COVID.

You must provide proof that you are fully vaccinated to gain entry to St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. St. Thomas allows you to enter if you aren’t vaccinated as long as you present a negative COVID test. Contact the USVI Travel Screening Board in advance to let them know that you aren’t vaccinated.

Non-vaccinated travelers must prove that their negative COVID test is only 24 hours old. The vaccine requirements only apply to adults 18 years old and up and don’t include children. St. Thomas discourages travel for people that are experienced COVID symptoms and they encourage you to wear a mask during travel.

Non-U.S. Citizens Travelling to St. Thomas

Non-U.S. citizens must provide both a travel visa and passport to enter St. Thomas. Don’t wait until the last minute to obtain a passport and visa before you visit St. Thomas. It can take as long as 3-5 weeks to receive a passport or visa depending on the volume of applicants and time of year.

Keep track of your passport and visa if you are a non-U.S. citizen traveling to St. Thomas. You will need to show your passport and visa once again as you leave St. Thomas. Otherwise, you will need to replace the passport before you can legally return to the country you reside in.

Contact your origin country’s embassy if you lose your passport while you are in St. Thomas. They can likely expedite the process to replace your passport in the event of an emergency. A visa may not be required if you are from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, such as Belgium.

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Aruba

Do You Need to be Vaccinated to go to St. Thomas?

You don’t need to be vaccinated to go to St. Thomas, but it is encouraged. St. Thomas requires a negative COVID test no later than 24 hours ago if you aren’t vaccinated, however. Children aren’t required to provide proof of a vaccine to enter St. Thomas either.

However, the CDC still recommends that you are fully vaccinated if you travel between countries and territories. While not required, the WHO recommends that you are vaccinated for typhoid, rabies, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and measles when you visit St. Thomas.

Influenza, meningitis, polio, pneumonia, and mumps are all risks on St. Thomas island. St. Thomas won’t deny travelers entry for failure to present vaccination against such ailments, however.

Do You Need a Real ID to go to St. Thomas?

You don’t currently need a Real ID to go to St. Thomas, but you will soon. Vacationers will need to provide a Real ID to enter St. Thomas starting in 2023. This rule doesn’t just apply to St. Thomas, and it will be required for the U.S. and any of its territories.

A Real ID features a star at the top to show the TSA and necessary personnel that you are compliant. State-issued IDs are different and feature a flag instead of a star which is an important distinction. Make sure that you have an official Real ID before you travel to St. Thomas after 2023 so that you aren’t denied entry.

What Islands Can I go to Without a Passport?

You can visit any island that is within the U.S. or is a U.S. territory without a passport if you are a citizen. The Virgin Islands is the most noticeable example and consists of three islands that are all U.S. territories. St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix are the islands that make up the Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico is another U.S. territory and it features 143 islandsatolls, and keys. However, the most popular Puerto Rican islands are Desecheo Island, Isla De Mona, and Caya Icacos. There are several islands that you can go to without a passport as a U.S. citizen, such as:

  • Anna Maria Island, Florida
  • Marco Island, Florida
  • Thomas, Virgin Islands
  • John, Virgin Islands
  • Croix, Virgin Islands
  • Isla De Culebra, Puerto Rico
  • Isabela, Puerto Rico

There are enough islands within the U.S. and its territories that you don’t have to travel too far. You don’t need a passport to travel to any island that is a U.S. territory if you provide proof of citizenship.

Is Travel to St. John Considered International?

Travel to St. John is not considered international if you are coming from the United States. It is a common misconception that the Virgin Islands is not a U.S. territory. St. John and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism have recently gone to great lengths to clarify this to encourage travel.

Logistically, it is no different to travel to St. John than it is to visit any other U.S. territory or state. Despite not being part of the mainland United States, St. John is considered domestic travel. Travel is treated the same way when you visit Guam or Puerto Rico because they are both U.S. territories as well.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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