Do You Need a Passport To Go to Alaska? - The Family Vacation Guide (2022)

posted byJames Brockbankon // last updated on

Alaska is the largest state in America, and it is also one of the most remote. It is a land of incredible beauty and on many peoples’ bucket lists. It is home to unbelievable natural beauty and mighty wildlife.

There are many ways to travel to Alaska, including driving, flying, and taking a boat. However, due to its distance from the continental US, there is confusion regarding the proper documentation needed to enter Alaska.

Your worries are over. By the end of this article, you will know what documents you need to bring on your journey north and why you should visit Alaska in the first place.

Table of Contents:

(Video) Planning a Trip to Alaska | 15 Tips for First Timers
  • Why Visit Alaska?
  • Do You Need a Passport if You Drive to Alaska?
  • Do You Need a Passport if You Fly to Alaska?
  • Do You Need a Passport if You Take the Ferry to Alaska?
  • Do You Need a Passport if You Take a Cruise to Alaska?
  • Wrap Up

Why Visit Alaska?

Alaska is a land of extremes. It’s the largest state in the US but has only around 700,000 people. It has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, with majestic mountains, pristine forests, and stunning glaciers. In addition to the wildlife, it is home to a host of wildlife, including bears, moose, eagles, and whales.

It’s no wonder that Alaska is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. Every year, over 2 million people travel to the state, drawn by its natural beauty and wilderness.

Do You Need a Passport To Go to Alaska? - The Family Vacation Guide (1)

Alaska is an excellent place to go for an outdoor adventure. It is home to eight national parks, including the world-famous Denali and Kenai Fjords national parks. There are many opportunities for hiking, backpacking, and rafting within the parks.

If you visit in the winter, you’ll see the Aurora Borealis or northern lights. And summer is the perfect time to go whale watching or fishing for salmon.

Do You Need a Passport if You Drive to Alaska?

The short answer is no. You do not need to have a passport to drive to Alaska. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

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First, if you plan to drive to Alaska from the continental US, you will need a valid driver’s license. You will also need to bring your vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

Also, Alaska is not connected to the continental US. To drive to Alaska, you will have to enter Canada. If you plan to drive through Canada to get to Alaska, you do not need a passport. However, a passport is the easiest identification form to use when crossing the border.

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According to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), you can use several different types of documents to cross the Canadian border, including a US Passport, a US Passport Card, a Trusted Traveler card, an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), an Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC).

A US Passport Card is similar to a US Passport book. It proves US citizenship and identity and can be used to travel domestically and within North America. However, it is not a valid form of identification to travel to most international destinations.

An EDL is not the same as your standard diver’s license. If you try to use a standard US driver’s license, you will be turned away at the border. EDLs provide proof of US citizenship as well as proof of identity. They are only available to citizens of select states.

Trusted Travel Programs such as NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI require you to complete a rigorous background check. You need to have a passport to complete this application process. These programs will allow you to cross the border in an expedited fashion.

ETCs are only available to members of Native American tribes. They are effectively the same as a US passport and are valid forms of identification and citizenship.

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If you are using a passport to cross the border, it must be valid. It’s also recommended that your passport have validity at least six months beyond the date you cross the border. This is not necessarily a requirement, but an upcoming expiration date may cause some additional checks at the border.

See also 7 of the Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Alaska for Families

So, if you are planning to drive to Alaska from the continental US, you will need a driver’s license and proof of citizenship. A passport is the easiest way to establish proof of citizenship, but other options are available. Make sure you have a valid form of identification before you start your journey.

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Do You Need a Passport if You Fly to Alaska?

The answer to this question is a bit more complicated. If you are flying directly to Alaska from the continental US, you do not need a passport. However, if you are flying to Alaska via a stopover in Canada, you will need a passport.

The logic here is that when you fly to Alaska with a stopover in Canada, you are technically entering Canada. And as we established before, you need a passport to enter Canada.

There are several things to remember if you are flying to Alaska. First, even if you don’t need a passport, it’s highly recommended to travel with one. A passport is the most secure form of identification and will make your life much easier if you lose your other forms of ID.

Second, if you are flying to Alaska from outside the US, you will need a passport regardless of whether you have a stopover in Canada or not.

And finally, if you are a US citizen but not a resident of Alaska, you will need to show your ID when you arrive in Alaska. This can be a passport, driver’s license, or state-issued ID.

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Do You Need a Passport To Go to Alaska? - The Family Vacation Guide (4)

Do You Need a Passport if You Take the Ferry to Alaska?

The Alaska Marine Highway is a ferry system that services the southeastern part of Alaska. If you take the ferry to Alaska, you do not need a passport.

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However, you will need a valid form of identification. The most standard forms of ID used are driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs. If you do not have either of these, you can use a passport.

The direct Alaska ferry is one of the best ways to visit Alaska. Not only do you get a scenic tour of the coast of Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, but you can also bring your car with you. Having a car makes exploring the interior of Alaska much easier. Taking the ferry is the best option if you plan on visiting Alaska for an extended period.

However, if the ferry makes a stop in Canada and you wish to disembark, you will need a passport to enter Canada and get back into the US.

Do You Need a Passport To Go to Alaska? - The Family Vacation Guide (5)

Do You Need a Passport if You Take a Cruise to Alaska?

You don’t need a passport as long as your cruise ship begins and ends in the same US port. A cruise that starts and ends in the same port is called a closed-loop cruise. Some closed-loop cruises make stops in Canada. You can leave the ship without a passport, but you will need a valid form of identification as outlined by the WHTI.

If your cruise is not a closed-loop and starts and ends in two different cities, you will need a passport to disembark the cruise. Regardless of the type of cruise, you should bring a passport to cover your bases.

Wrap Up

You do not need a passport to visit Alaska. However, you will have to show a proper form of identification. If you are driving, you will need a driver’s license and proof of citizenship. A passport is the easiest way to establish proof of citizenship, but other options are available.

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Hopefully, this article has cleared up any confusion about the documents necessary to travel to Alaska. Safe travels!

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FAQs

Can you go to Alaska without a passport? ›

Do I need a passport to go to Alaska? United States residents do not need a passport to go to Alaska, but soon they will need a REAL ID. Beginning May 3, 2023, U.S. citizens aged 18 and up traveling by air within the United States will need REAL ID-compliant identification to go through airport security checkpoints.

What documents do I need to go to Alaska? ›

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) Compliant Documents
  • Valid U.S. Passport.
  • Passport Card.
  • Original or suitable quality copy of a Birth Certificate (Issued by a government agency: state/county/city) and a government issued photo ID if 16 years of age and older.
  • Original Certificate of Naturalization.

Do you need a REAL ID to fly to Alaska? ›

You do not need a REAL ID to fly, although you will need a federally compliant ID. Please see a comprehensive list of acceptable TSA identification here.

Can you get to Alaska without going through Canada? ›

A.) No, you can not drive all the way to Alaska without going through Canada. However, with the use of the Alaska Marine Highway, you can take your vehicle to Alaska without going through Canada – just a short 97 hours on the ferry.

Do kids need passports for Alaska? ›

Travel by air: Kids need their own passport when traveling by air. If you're traveling with your child and the other parent isn't accompanying you on the journey, you must carry a notarized statement of approval from them that includes your travel dates.

Can you get to Alaska without flying? ›

There are several ways to get to Alaska, including flying, taking the ferry, or driving. Of these, by far the quickest and most popular is flying into Anchorage.

Do you need to be vaccinated to go to Alaska? ›

CRUISING TO ALASKA

Most cruise lines are requiring that passengers receive their final COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to cruise departure and require pre-travel COVID-19 testing.

Is Alaska expensive to visit? ›

Alaska is an expensive destination, but you can travel there on a budget. It won't be the cheapest trip you've ever taken but it doesn't have to completely destroy your budget either.

How much does it cost to see northern lights in Alaska? ›

Evening tours run from 9 p.m. to about 4 a.m. and average $75 to $85 per person, while more extensive tours like the Northern Alaska fly/drive Arctic Circle viewing tour begins at $269 per person.

Can I use my driver's license to fly to Alaska? ›

1, 2020, all travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant driver license, identification card or another acceptable form of identification to board a commercial flight. To determine if an Alaska driver license or identification card is REAL ID-compliant, look for a star within a black circle in the upper right-hand corner.

Is flying to Alaska considered a domestic flight? ›

Domestic travel consists of travel to any destination within the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, and all United States possessions, territories, and entities with free association status.

Can I use my birth certificate to fly? ›

Can I use my birth certificate to fly domestically? You cannot use your birth certificate as a primary document when flying domestically. However, there is one situation when it may be used as supporting evidence, and that is if your original identification was lost or stolen.

How long is the ferry from Seattle to Alaska? ›

The Alaska Ferry runs 24 hours a day. It takes 36 hours from Bellingham, WA to reach the first stop at Ketchikan. Visitors often disembark in a variety of towns, stay a few nights on land, then continue on the ferry.

Can u drive to Alaska from California? ›

You can drive to Alaska from anywhere in the United States, including California. The road leading to Alaska is called the Alaska Highway or Alaska-Canada Highway (Alcan), and it officially begins in Dawson Creek, British Columbia in Canada.

How many days does it take to drive to Alaska? ›

Wherever you're starting from in the U.S., the drive to Alaska is likely to take 6 days or longer including the drive to the Canadian border, the long route through Canada and the final stint through Alaska. The Alaskan Highway goes through some remote parts of Yukon in northern Canada.

Can I drive to Alaska from the US? ›

The Alaska Highway that allows you to drive from the United States to Alaska. There is only one major road that you can take to drive to Alaska and that is the Alaska Highway. Regardless of where you start in the United States or Canada, you will eventually join the Alaska Highway.

Can u drive to Alaska from Washington state? ›

Driving From Washington to Alaska

Your final option for reaching Alaska from Washington State is to drive. Although this is by far the longest transit option, it's also one of the most stunning, taking you through vast tracts of wilderness in Canada and Alaska.

Do you need to be vaccinated to go to Alaska? ›

CRUISING TO ALASKA

Most cruise lines are requiring that passengers receive their final COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to cruise departure and require pre-travel COVID-19 testing.

Can you drive from Canada to Alaska? ›

No, you can't drive to Alaska without passing through Canada. This is because only one road connects Alaska to the rest of the world, and that road passes through Canada. There are four routes through which you can go to Alaska from the US.

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