Hawaii, with its beautiful beaches and easy life, is a place many of us aspire to visit. However, its distance can make us a little unsure if we need any documentation to visit Hawaii. If you are keen to explore this place, do you need a passport to go to Hawaii?
Whether you need a passport to visit Hawaii will depend on your citizenship status. Suppose you are a full US citizen or a permanent resident (green card). In that case, you do not need a passport to visit Hawaii. However, foreign citizens will require a passport and authorization to enter Hawaii, either visa or electronic travel authority (ETA).
This article discusses if you need a passport to enter Hawaii, depending on your citizenship status. It will also explore the subject of what documents you need to enter Hawaii and how the REAL ID Act may impact your ability to travel to Hawaii.
Do You Need A Passport To Visit Hawaii?
US Citizens and US Permanent Residents (Green Card) do not need a passport to travel to Hawaii. They only need a valid ID to pass Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) checks. Foreign nationals may need to present a passport at the border with the right authorization, e.g., a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), to enter Hawaii.
Hawaii is a full state in the United States of America. It enjoys the same status as any of the 50 full states in the Union. This means citizens of Hawaii and other states in the US are free to travel to visit other states without restrictions.
As a result, you may treat visiting Hawaii as similar to driving from California to Nevada. The only difference is that you will be flying into Hawaii since Hawaii is an island state. This may present some differences.
When you fly into Hawaii, you may need to pass security checks from the TSA. This means you will need to present some form of photo ID so that TSA can confirm that you are boarding the flight. Usually, a valid Driver’s License is sufficient.
For US Permanent Residents, you may assume that Green Card holders have the same travel rights within the US as full citizens.
For foreign nationals, you will need to consider entering Hawaii as entering the United States. A valid international passport issued by the recognized immigration authorities is required. On top, you also need to present a proper entry authorization. This could be in the form of a visa, e-visa, or Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).
Suppose you are a foreign national traveling to Hawaii from a US destination. In that case, you still need a passport to enter Hawaii. However, you may use your current traveling authorization, as given to you beforehand. Just make sure it is valid and active.
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What Documents Do I Show To Enter Hawaii?
A valid photo ID is often enough if you are a US citizen or a Green Card holder. However, suppose you are a foreign national. In that case, you may need a passport, a valid travel authorization, and in some cases, additional documents from US immigration authorities.
The requirements for US citizens and permanent residents (Green Card Holder) are straightforward. You only need to present a valid photo ID during security to confirm your identity to the TSA officer.
This is because you are traveling within the United States, and citizens and permanent residents of the US have the right to travel and reside freely anywhere in the Union.
However, for foreign nationals trying to enter Hawaii, you may need to treat the process similar to entering the United States as a foreign national.
This means you at least will need a valid international passport issued by your country of citizenship and some form of travel authorization. Authorization can usually come from a visa, e-visa, or Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).
Depending on your passport, you may be subjected to a different process to obtain authorization to enter the US. Some passport holders must go through a stringent face-to-face interview process. At the same time, some countries only need an online application to obtain ETA. You may need to check with the US immigration website for the instructions.
There are around 40+ countries that have visa exemption agreements with the US, meaning passport holders from these countries may enter the US without a visa. They can fly in, present their passport, and be stamped in. However, this is also subject to the immigration officers’ decision.
The following countries have visa-free access to the US, including Hawaii. The list may not be exhaustive:
Suppose you have the visa to enter the US. In that case, you may still be denied entry to the US should the immigration officer deem that you may be at risk of not following the visa rules.
It may be prudent to prepare some other documents to show that you will follow the visa arrangement to convince the officer, such as:
- Banking statement to show you have the funds to live within the US throughout your stay.
- Your flight itinerary showing your journey and that you have purchased a flight ticket to exit the US.
- A letter confirming your employment with or business at home to show that you intend to return to your country and resume work.
Can I Use Other Documents Other Than A Drivers’ License To Enter Hawaii?
You may use many other photo IDs to enter Hawaii, as recognized by the TSA’s Identification List. The IDs accepted include Military ID, US Passport Card, US Merchant Mariner Credentials, 1-766, etc. Check with the TSA for the newest acceptable IDs.
A Driver’s License is not the only photo ID accepted by the TSA. This should be a relief since not all of us are blessed with a Driver’s License.
The TSA has an Identification List, where they list the IDs they accept at their checkpoint. You may check it out here.
The list contains IDs such as below:
- United States Birth Certificate (Original Copy)
- US Passport Card
- US Military ID
- Recognized traveler membership such as Global Entry, NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- Transportation worker identification credential
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- HSPD-12 PIV Card
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
You may use these IDs and documents as a substitute to use to enter Hawaii or board flights for domestic destinations.
A US passport book is not the same as a US passport card. The Passport Card is usually used by people who live near the border. They may enter or leave the US often, such as people who go to Mexico or Canada every day for work or other reasons. A card is easier to use since they would quickly stamp out their passport books.
A Native American tribal ID is a form of identification that shows the holder is a member of a certain Native American Nation. It can be used in banks, many federal buildings, and for travel within the US. TSA only accepts tribal IDs from tribes and nations recognized by the Federal Government.
However, TSA may have updated or changed the IDs and documents in the list, so it may be prudent to check with TSA before you board your flight.
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Do Minors Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii?
Minors under 15 do not need a passport to enter Hawaii. If the minor travels alone, it may be best to issue a letter of authorization for the minor to travel to Hawaii. It may be better to have the minor travel to Hawaii accompanied by a trusted adult with the proper authorization to enter Hawaii.
Children under 15 who want to go to Hawaii do not need a passport. Most of the time, they do not need an ID to get into Hawaii, as long as they are with their legal parents or guardians.
However, if the minor travels alone, there may be other things to contend with. The minor should bring along some form of identification, say a birth certificate. It may be a good idea too that the minor carry a letter of permission from his or her legal parent or guardian to undertake the journey.
Foreign minors may require additional processes, which may be different depending on the minor’s country of origin. Consider to get in touch with the US consulate near you to confirm the details.
How Will The REAL ID Act Impact Passport Requirements In Hawaii?
The REAL ID Act will require all IDs presented at TSA’s security checkpoint to be REAL ID compatible. This policy will start on May 3, 2023. Be sure to upgrade your present IDs to be REAL ID compatible before that date.
Starting May 3, 2023, all people 18 and older who fly within the US will need:
- A REAL ID-compliant driver’s license,
- A state-issued enhanced driver’s license,
- Or another form of acceptable identification.
The original enforcement date was set to be October 1, 2021, but was delayed until May 3, 2023, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This gives you time to upgrade your Driver’s license to be READ ID compatible.
You must travel with your passport if you do not have a form of ID that meets the REAL ID requirements. So, as a US citizen or permanent resident, and want to go to Hawaii, you will need your passport.