Do you need a passport to go to Hawaii? It depends on who you are

Besides its beloved beauty, Hawaii also offers some confusion related to travelling regulations. One of the most common questions is, Do you need a passport to go to Hawaii?

For that reason, we think it would be a good idea to have an article dedicated to this topic. Hopefully, you can use it not only to answer your questions but also other people’s.

Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii?

In general, US citizens do not require a passport for domestic travel, including trips to Hawaii. Hawaii is a state in the United States. And citizens of the United States can enter and depart the state using their state-issued driver's licence or identity card.

Important: From May 7, 2025, Real ID, a new policy regarding issuing sources of identification, such as driver's licences will be applied. Then, to be able to board domestic flights and some types of federal facilities, a traveller must be REAL compliant.

Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii? - CabinZero

Look for that golden star in the up-right corner. Photo taken from

If you are non-us citizens, you need a passport to get into Hawaii. The only exception to this rule is permanent residents. Plus, you also may need a visa depending on your country of citizenship (We’ll talk about this in detail later).

Children, including infants and minors, are required to have their own passports for international travel to Hawaii if they are not U.S. citizens. However, if they are U.S. citizens, they can travel to Hawaii with appropriate identification, such as a birth certificate or a passport.

Passport Requirements for U.S. Citizens

Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii? - CabinZero

Your way to Hawaii is wide open. Photo by Valerii Honcharuk -

Just in case you are not familiar, the United States passport system is an essential component of foreign travel for Americans. A passport contains personal information: holder's name, date of birth, picture, and unique passport number.

The United States Department of State is in charge of granting and renewing passports, and applicants can apply in person at approved passport acceptance centres or by mail.

Note: There are several processes in granting a passport, so make sure to apply for one long before the departure date of your trip.

Accepted identification documents for domestic flights

A valid picture identification card issued by the government is the most often acceptable form of identification for domestic flights to Hawaii.

In addition, a driver's license issued by a US state or territory, a US passport card, a trusted traveller card such as Global Entry or NEXUS, or a US military ID is all acceptable.

It is essential to remember that the identity document must be current and valid by the time of inspection. The name on the identification must match the name on the flight reservation.

If your name has changed due to marriage or other circumstances, legal evidence (a marriage certificate or court order, etc.) is recommended.

As mentioned above, U.S. travellers must apply for REAL ID to be able to fly to domestic destinations. To acquire a REAL ID, there are some steps you need to take:

1) Full Legal Name

2) Date of Birth

3) Social Security Number

4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence

5) Lawful Status

  • Step 3: Follow their instructions and bring the required documents to the DMV offices.

Sometimes the state will ask for some additional information, so prepare for that. You also may have to pay a small fee (about $10 or so). If you have any questions or problems, we suggest you visit the office for assistance.

In normal circumstances

If everything goes as normal, a U.S. citizen only needs a driver’s license to catch a domestic flight to Hawaii. However, if your flight has a layover in another country outside the U.S., you must present your passport to get into Hawaii (did you know you could also leave the airport during this time?).

Although a passport is not obligatory for entry into Hawaii, it holds value as a valid form of identification and can prove beneficial in a lot of circumstances. 

For instance, if a traveller misplaces or has their driver's license or identity card stolen while on the journey, having a passport readily available can work as an additional way of identification. In such cases, with the possession of a passport, you can still access services in Hawaii, like procuring a rental vehicle or engaging in designated tours.

Special occasions

As mentioned previously, you might not need a passport in most cases; but you will in some. Understanding these circumstances will aid you in meeting the requisite passport criteria.

Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii? - CabinZero

Cruising is a popular way to get to Hawaii. Photo by Renato Marzan on Unsplash.

Travelling to Hawaii by Cruise Ship

A passport may be necessary if you want to visit Hawaii as part of a cruise itinerary that includes stops in foreign ports such as Mexico or Canada.

This is because the cruise company may seek a valid passport as evidence of citizenship and identification upon returning to the United States from a foreign port. It is critical to confirm the specific cruise line's passport requirements for your specific route.

Inter-Island Air Travel Within Hawaii

A passport is not necessary for domestic flights, just like any travel to the US state. However, an airline may request further identification beyond a driver's license or identity card in unusual circumstances, notably for inter-island flights. 

Passport Requirements for International Travelers

Non-U.S. citizens visiting Hawaii, on the other hand, should be aware of many crucial requirements.

Expiration date

To begin, they must have a valid passport issued by their respective governments. The passport should have an expiration date that is longer than the length of their intended stay in the United States.

International tourists should thoroughly verify the validity of their passports well in advance of their journey and, if required, consider renewing them.

Our recommendation is to have a buffer time of around 6 months to allow for any unanticipated delays or modifications to the trip schedule.

Fun fact: There are more than 50 countries that require your passport to have at least 6 months until the expiration dates: Austria, Belgium, Russia, Netherlands, Italy, etc.

  • Canadian
        • Require a valid passport or a NEXUS card
  • Mexico
        • Require either a valid passport, a Visa and Border Crossing Card, or a Border Crossing Card
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
        • Require a valid passport or an electronic authorisation (ESTA)
  • China
        • Require a valid passport
  • South Korea
      • Require a valid passport or an electronic authorisation (ESTA)


    Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii? - CabinZero

    Be aware of the regulations, it depends. Photo by uaPieceofCake -

    Next, a non-U.S. citizen may be required a visa to enter the United States in addition to a valid passport, depending on their country of citizenship.

    Checking with the nearest US embassy or consulate, or visiting the US Department of State's official website, can offer accurate and up-to-date information on visa requirements.

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

    Citizens from 40 designated countries can enjoy a visa-free visit (up to 90 days) to the United States for tourism or business purposes through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This allows them to explore the beautiful islands of Hawaii and indulge in its attractions without the additional hassle of applying for a visa.

    Since 2016, you need an e-passport to be able to use VWP.  An e-passport looks just like any passport. The only difference is the international biometric symbol printed on the front cover (at the bottom).

    To benefit from the Visa Waiver Program, there are certain requirements you need to satisfy, as well as get an authorised Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before your trip.

    The ESTA is a simple online application that verifies whether you are eligible to enter the United States under the VWP. It includes submitting personal information, travel information and responding to security-related questions.

    The ESTA is valid for two years after it is authorised or until the traveller's passport expires, whichever comes first. Learn how to apply for the VWP and ESTA here.

    Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii? - CabinZero

    You need to have an e-passport (passport with that square symbol) to be eligible. Photo by Ethan Wilkinson on Unsplash

    Other requirements

    In certain cases, non-U.S. individuals preparing for a journey to Hawaii may encounter additional prerequisites. These conditions are implemented to guarantee the safety and adherence of visitors during their time in Hawaii and the United States.

    One of these requirements is the provision of evidence of return or onward travel. Immigration authorities may request non-U.S. citizens to present documentation such as a return ticket or a ticket for continuing their travel to their next destination.

    This requirement is in place to verify that visitors have a planned departure from the United States and will not exceed the duration of their authorised stay.

    Non-U.S. individuals may also need to present evidence of sufficient financial resources to cover their spending during their visit to Hawaii. This can involve presenting bank statements, credit card records, or any other documentation that can showcase the financial power of the visitors.

    This is not only to ensure the comfort of visitors but also to avoid over-reliance on public resources.

    Furthermore, immigration officials may enquire about a person's criminal record. People who are not from the U.S. and have a certain criminal history may be ruled inadmissible to the US, affecting their ability to visit Hawaii.

    If you have travelled to the U.S. after the spread of COVID-19, you might be familiar with Title 19 regarding medical conditions. However, after May 12, 2023, the requirements have been lifted. Now, for passengers coming to the U.S. via land ports or ferry terminals, no fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is required. 

    Where Do All The Confusions Come From?

    On the surface, this might sound like a strange question. Due to Hawaii's status as a U.S. state, there is a common misconception that a passport is unnecessary for domestic travel.

    Although Hawaii falls under domestic territory for U.S. citizens, meaning a passport is typically unnecessary for entry, there are certain exceptions and specific situations where carrying a passport may be necessary. These exceptions can lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions, especially for inexperienced travellers.

    Do You Need A Passport To Go To Hawaii? - CabinZero

    This heavenly place is waiting for you! Photo by Lyle Wilkinson on Unsplash


    1. Do I Need To Carry My Passport With Me At All Times While In Hawaii?

    It is generally recommended to keep your passport in a safe place, such as a hotel safe when exploring Hawaii. However, it is advisable to carry a copy of your passport or a government-issued photo ID with you for identification purposes.

    2. Where Can I Find Official And Up-To-Date Information On Passport And Identification Requirements For Travelling To Hawaii? 

    Official and up-to-date information can be obtained from trusted sources such as the U.S. Department of State's official website, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, and the official website of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for the Visa Waiver Program.

    3. Do you need a Covid test to fly between Hawaiian Islands?

    Generally speaking, no. From March 26, 2022, Covid-prevention activities such as quarantines or pre-travel tests have no longer been required. Even wearing masks also becomes optional right now. Still,  we highly recommend you wear a mask to protect your health during your trip.

    Final words

    So, do you need a passport to go to Hawaii? Only you can answer that question. Even though it might be ambiguous in the first place, we believe it is not a difficult problem anymore now.

    However, remember that the policies might change over time, and it is very important to stay updated. Sources like government websites or travel advisories are valuable in such cases.

    It would take some effort but believe us, Hawaii is worth all of it. It is a magnificent island that you have to visit once in your life.

    Bui Hoang Hai

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