Historically, domestic travel within the United States has required little documentation. For travel by air, only a basic form of identification is necessary, such as a driver’s license. For travel by land and sea, no documentation is required to cross state boundaries, however travelers need a form of ID to operate a vehicle or board a cruise ship.
NOTE: As of October 1, 2020, minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards is changing - federal agencies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will only accept the REAL ID for domestic travel.
Learn more about the REAL ID and new identification requirements.
In order to travel internationally, U.S. travelers must obtain the appropriate documentation to satisfy departure and arrival requirements for the United States and their travel destinations. Note that different countries require different documentation from visiting U.S. travelers.
A passport is a travel document that identifies you and authorizes you for travel, specifically in order to leave or enter a country.
Passports must be applied for and the process times vary. Generally, routine processing times are 6-8 weeks, but urgent or expedited service may be available.
U.S. issued passports are valid for 10 years.
U.S. Passports exist in two forms, as a passport book and as a passport card. Both are proof of U.S. citizenship and identity, however U.S. passport cards cannot be used for international air travel. Learn more here.
Passport Resources: applying, obtaining, and renewing
Note: travelers must apply in person if at least one of the following is true: