Do I need a passport to go to Puerto Rico? Different requirements for US and non-US citizens
This article will answer all of your questions about Puerto Rico entry requirements as well as other travel tips, like the best things to do, and what work exchanges are available.
Puerto Rico is one of the best islands to visit in the Caribbean. It has tropical rainforests, idyllic beaches, colorful colonial architecture, historic landmarks, and much more.
Located in the northeast Caribbean Sea near the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands, the island nation has warm, sunny weather year-round and has a vibrant local culture.
Puerto Rico is actually an archipelago of over 100 islands, inlets, and atolls. However, there are 5 big islands and of course, the one main island that has the international airport and the majority of the infrastructure.
Visiting Puerto Rico is always a great idea, especially from the USA. It’s close by, and flights are cheap. But sometimes, people can get confused about Puerto Rico travel requirements. The reason for this is the state of Puerto Rico compared to the USA.
Officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the island is an unincorporated US territory. That means all of the residents are US citizens and must follow US laws. However, they do not vote in US elections and are not represented in Congress.
So Puerto Rico is not a US state, but it’s also not a completely independent country.
Regardless of the confusing logistics, it is very easy to travel to Puerto Rico. This article will cover everything you may need to know for a visit to the gorgeous Caribbean island.
Do I need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?
The Puerto Rico travel requirements are pretty straightforward., but the full answer will depend on your nationality.
Because Puerto Rico is a US territory, US citizens do not need a passport to enter if they are flying from the US.
Any government official ID that you use for domestic travel, such as a driver's license, will be enough to board a plane to Puerto Rico from the US.
That makes it extremely easy for US citizens to visit Puerto Rico. It's a similar process to flying domestically. It’s very similar to flying to Hawaii, as you are leaving the mainland but you do not need a passport.
Just keep in mind that in May 2023, the US is issuing the Real ID Act. That means that only certain types of state-issued IDs will be accepted for domestic plane travel. Just check with your state authorities to ensure your ID is acceptable.
But once you confirm your ID can be used for domestic air travel, you can use the same ID for entering Puerto Rico.
If you are flying to Puerto Rico from outside the US, you will need to show a passport, just as you would if you were flying to the mainland US from a different country.
Non-US Citizens do need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico.
Even though Puerto Rico is not officially a US state, the entry requirements are similar to entering any other US state. As you would need to show a passport to enter anywhere else in the US, you need a passport for Puerto Rico if you are a non-US citizen.
Planning a trip to Puerto Rico
Now that we’ve answered the question: “Do I need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?”, let’s briefly discuss anything else you may need to know for visiting the island.
We’ll cover some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico, any Worldpackers volunteer opportunities, and other helpful travel tips.
Best Things To Do in Puerto Rico
Being such a small island, Puerto Rico has all the natural and cultural attractions you could want on a vacation. There is music, food, art, and history. There is also jungle, waterfalls, beaches, and lots of natural beauty.
Explore San Juan
The capital city of Puerto Rico is the hub for tourism on the island. The cobblestone streets are lined with colorful historic buildings, art museums, restaurants and bars, local shops, and more. Be sure to check out the old forts of the San Juan National Historic Site.
See the Bioluminescent Bay
Officially known as Mosquito Bay on the Island of Vieques, this location just 30 minutes off Puerto Rico by ferry is a true natural phenomenon. Go on a boat tour and see bioluminescent plankton ignite the waters at night.
Explore the El Yunque Rainforest
This lush rainforest is full of wildlife and natural beauty. Hike through the greenery, go birdwatching, swim in waterfalls, and admire the untouched, flourishing natural world.
Try some sports
With so much water and jungle, there are so many fun sports to try in Puerto Rico. You can go surfing on the west and northwestern sides of the island or go kayaking in the sea or rivers in the rainforest. Go ziplining, rock climbing, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, and more.
Hit the Beach
Puerto Rico has some gorgeous beaches! Definitely check out Luquillo Beach, Condado Beach, Isla Verde, Playa Crash Boat, Playa Sucia, and Buyé Beach. You can also catch a boat to nearby Culebra Island and visit Playa Flamenco.
Volunteering in Puerto Rico
Another one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is trying a Worldpackers volunteer experience. You can work in exchange for accommodation and a few more perks, which can vary from one place to another, and it allows you to save money and have a unique cultural exchange.
If you really want to see what local life is like in Puerto Rico and learn from the locals themselves, a work exchange is the best way to do so. You can learn new things as well as gain work experience while exploring the island on your days off.
There are 10 work exchanges in Puerto Rico, and here are some top-rated ones.
- Work in administration and reception in a beachside hostel in San Juan. This work exchange has great 16 reviews from other travelers and 5 out of 5 stars!
- Help on a permaculture farm in the mountains of Las Marias. Here you will help with animal care, gardening, farming, and more. This is a great way to learn about sustainability and immerse yourself in the nature of Puerto Rico.
- This hostel in San Juan needs help with digital marketing. If you have any photography, videography, and social media skills, this hostel is happy to have you!
- Work on an eco-lodge in the rainforest of Jimenez, helping out with building, landscaping, painting, gardening, and anything else your host needs. You can learn about permaculture and explore the local beaches and islands on your days off.
- Volunteer at this hostel in the heart of Old San Juan. Help with cleaning, housekeeping, and reception in exchange for a free stay and discounted tours and meals.
Currency, language, timezone, and other important information
Once you’ve planned your trip to Puerto Rico, including your activities and your accommodation and work exchanges through Worldpackers, here are some other key things to know for visiting this part of the Caribbean.
The local currency is the US dollar. So if you are visiting Puerto Rico from the US, there is no need to exchange currency.
The local languages are Spanish and English. In touristy areas like San Juan, English is common. But most locals speak Spanish and it is helpful for you to know some Spanish if you’re visiting remote areas!
Puerto Rico’s time zone is the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, and they do not recognize daylight savings.
The local drinking age is 18, unlike in the US which is 21. But some clubs may require you to be 21 to enter.
Hurricane season is from June to November. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Puerto Rico during those months, but tropical storms are more common.
Tipping is expected, although not mandatory in Puerto Rico. You can tip 15% at restaurants and a few dollars for other staff like housekeepers, bellhops, bartenders, and drivers.
Do you need a passport for Puerto Rico: Final thoughts
Given all this information, you can see how easy it is to visit Puerto Rico if you’re from the US! You don’t need to exchange currency and you don’t need a passport.
Even if you’re not from the US, you can still plan an incredible trip here just as you would any other country.
There are also lots of great work exchange opportunities in case you want to try one! You can live with locals and learn useful skills while immersing yourself in the culture and landscape of Puerto Rico.
Want to learn more about planning your trip to Puerto Rico? By subscribing to a pack plan you have unlimited access to +120 courses at Worldpackers Academy, the travel school made by travelers!