“Why do we citizens need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?” This is a question I get asked daily from many who have never visited the island nation of Puerto Rico. I too get asked that question often and I also get that same question from many Americans who have also never been to the Caribbean nation. In fact, there are not very many people who have actually visited Puerto Rico and have much to say about it. Thus, it’s a big question for me, and I’ll do my best to answer it.
The first reason why we citizens need a passport for Puerto Rico is so that we could travel throughout the area. There are so many things to see and do in Puerto Rico and a thorough knowledge of the culture and the language would be extremely beneficial to any tourist or businessman visiting this country. Think about it, do you know how much longer the average conversation with a Puerto Rican person goes? And the interesting thing is that you’d think that someone who speaks English well would get through the conversation easily, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
Secondly, having the proper documentation when you travel to another country is also a wise idea. A passport issued by the country of origin would be a great idea. In this way, you wouldn’t need to have a duplicate of your birth certificate when applying for a driver’s license. Having a copy of your marriage certificate as well as divorce certificate should also be on your list of things to bring with you. In fact, you might even want to include your original copy of your medical insurance plan.
Now back to the original question, do we citizens really need a passport for Puerto Rico? That depends on your purpose for traveling to the area. If you’re going for an extended trip that involves multiple cities, there’s no need for you to show proof of citizenship. Your original documents would do just fine. However, if you were traveling to visit relatives or to see the sights in Old San Juan, you may want to have a Puerto Rican passport.
Another scenario would be if you were going to Puerto Rico to visit or relocate to the island. You probably wouldn’t need a passport for travel between the US and Canada, as you can get a temporary visa. However, if you were going to Puerto Rico to work or study, then a Puerto Rican passport would be an important part of your package.
A third possibility would be for an American citizen who is traveling to Mexico and lives in Puerto Rico. This type of situation would probably be the exception rather than the rule, so it wouldn’t matter too much which country you decided to visit. Your only real concern would be obtaining a visitor’s permit – and you would be able to obtain one easily from Mexico’s government. Keep in mind that there are different requirements for Americans visiting Mexico versus Puerto Rico. In this case, however, you’d need all of the same documents as for other visitors.
As for those going to other countries, such as China, Russia, or the Dominican Republic, a passport might be needed. The problem with these countries is that they have a vastly different culture and different standards. For example, would Americans be allowed to enter these countries without the necessary documentation? Would Chinese or Russian authorities accept American currency? Those are very legitimate questions that would need to be answered before you decide whether you would need a passport for trips abroad.
If all things considered, I do not think that a passport is necessary for travel to Puerto Rico. However, I would recommend getting one for yourself, just in case. It can never hurt to be safe. Even if it costs you a few extra dollars, it could save your life!