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Help - Conflicting Information on Passports

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Coop
 Coop
(@Coop)
Guest

Everyone - I'm a US citizen living in North Carolina visiting St Thomas on June 1. I am flying directly to St Thomas from North Carolina and directly back. Here is what my condo rental agreement says:

10.PASSPORTS: Every person in your party needs a current passport beginning January 1, 2007! Everyone departing St Thomas, even Americans, are required by US Immigration to show a current passport for every individual. You will also need passports should you decide to visit the British Virgin Islands ( 45 minutes from St Thomas via ferry.).

Here is what the US State Dept site says:

The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the United States and do not need to present a passport. U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Now I obviously believe the State Dept site over a rental agreement, but it still has me nervous. Do I need a passport or not? If I do I may have to call the trip off; its getting late, even if I use the expedited service.

Thanks

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Posted : April 27, 2007 12:25 pm
Chris at Work
(@chris-at-work)
Noble Member

Coop

Passport not required if staying on STT/STJ but certain documents are required (see link).

https://www.vinow.com/general_usvi/faq/#passports

Check with airline as they might be more difficult.

You will need a passport soon to travel anywhere so I suggest you get in line for one although you won't get it by June 1 for this trip.

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Posted : April 27, 2007 12:31 pm
C_CMom
(@c_cmom)
Trusted Member

Per the US govt, you shouldn't need it, but airlines and condo people may have their own guidelines (right or wrong...not trying to start any trouble here...) One suggestion since you probably don't have time to get a passport in that amount of time is to email the airline and rental customer service folks a brief question noting the discrepancy and inquiring about the need for a passport above and beyond the official US requirement. When they email back (hopefully stating that you should have no worries and you don't need the passport), save a copy of that email and bring it with you in case all of the employess didn't get the updated news. What if they don't say that? Perhaps go higher up...cross that bridge when you come to it. In the long run, it will be easier to just get the passports so you really will have no worries! In the meantime, be sure you have all of the other required documentation (as above).

Hope works out and have a good time!

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Posted : April 27, 2007 1:53 pm
Beachboy
 Beachboy
(@Beachboy)
Guest

I came back from STT in mid April. When I arrived at the airport it was a mob scene as it was one of those travel days where weather had disrupted all the schedules. Although you technically do not need a passport, if you want to do a self service check in it seems to only work with passports. People withouy passports eventually got through, but by all means get a passport.

Who needs the hassle.

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Posted : April 27, 2007 2:02 pm
TRLK
 TRLK
(@TRLK)
Guest

>>>>>Everyone departing St Thomas, even Americans, are required by US Immigration to show a current passport for every individual.

That statement is absolutely 100% FALSE.

It's kind of funny that the rental company is telling you that, since most businesses in the USVI have been making a big deal out of the fact that you DON”T need a passport in order to get tourists to visit.

Having a passport would certainly make getting through the airport easier, but it is not legally required. The rental company is not a government entity, so they cannot demand that you have a passport.

I suggest that you print out the official government information, from the government website, and have that with you just in case you encounter an uninformed agent at the airport.

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Posted : April 27, 2007 2:03 pm
Future Islander
(@future-islander)
Prominent Member

TRLK:

Our Condo property does require the customer to provide a photo identification when checking in. This can be in the form of a passport or (photo) driver's license. If you do not have a government issued photo I.D. you will not get the key. I would advise Coop to contact the property manager and confirm the requirement. Perhaps a drivers license will suffice.

Also, you do not need a Passport to visit the USVIs.....additionally you only need an official birth certificate (raised seal) and (government issued) photo I.D. to visit he BVIs via ferry (until January 2008). Our friends did this last week without any problems. (We were with them.)

Hope this helps.

F.I.

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Posted : April 27, 2007 2:56 pm
seansand
(@seansand)
Active Member

Our family of 6 just recently returned from St Croix! We travel with passports for ease, but college daughter left her passport at her apartment !! πŸ™‚ She had her driver's license (thank heavens!!) and we just took her birth certificate along, as you will need 2 forms of "official" ID ( if you don't have a passport) when you report to the airport on your return flight...no problems! Enjoy your trip!! We're counting the days till we can return!

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Posted : April 27, 2007 4:09 pm
TRLK
 TRLK
(@TRLK)
Guest

Future Islander-
Yes, some rental companies require an ID...however, there is no legal basis for them requiring a Passport over any other type of identification. That's what I was trying to say πŸ™‚

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Posted : April 27, 2007 4:52 pm
Sassy
(@sassy)
Active Member

Below is the verbiage from the travel state gov website. ( http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html)
Passport is NOT required for travel to and from USVI. If you have additional questions you can call the National Passport Information Center @ 1-877-487-2778.

Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.

As early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain passports or passport cards for land/sea entries.

The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the United States and do not need to present a passport. U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

HAVE A GREAT TRIP !!!!!!!!!

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Posted : April 28, 2007 10:10 pm
MaryB
 MaryB
(@MaryB)
Guest

Do not under any circumstances apply for a passport before this trip you are taking UNLESS YOU HAVE A SECOND OFFICIAL COPY OF YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE. You will have to send an original birth certificate- not a copy- with your passport application and even the expedited service is not turing around in less then a month. Even if you send it expedited, you will have no birth certificate to use if the passport does not come back.
We recently found ourselves in this situation. We applied for a passport--expidiated -and spent over $300 combined for my husband and myself even though we were not required to have one to travel to the USVI. Well, mine came back in 2 weeks even with my ratty Pa Birth Certificate which was dog-eared and taped together. My husband's was lost in space--go figure- and he had NOTHING to travel with.
Fortunately we live in NY and he was born in NYCity, so we just went downtown and got another one but if he was born out of state we would have been in big trouble.

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Posted : April 28, 2007 11:13 pm
Island Paul
(@island-paul)
Estimable Member

Why is everyone so afraid, adverse, somehow a bad thing, not willing,etc.etc., to get a passport? Don't you realize that times have changed?

Why not just get a passport - a modernly useable - helpful - good thing document to have? It's not that big a deal to have and they are really cool for when you may decide to travel somewhere else in the world.

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Posted : April 29, 2007 7:42 am
Coop
 Coop
(@Coop)
Guest

Island Paul - Its not that I do not want to get a passport (i'm traveling to Paris next spring), its that my trip is 4 weeks away and not only is the expedited service expensive, but there's no guarantee it will be here in 4 weeks anyway. I'm hoping my certified birth certificate gets here in time. I've got a birth certificate with a seal, but I'm not sure thats its official with a "raised" seal.

Oh well, i guess there's worse places to be stranded than St Thomas. I hope the USVI needs mortgage traders if i can't get back to the states. πŸ™‚

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Posted : April 29, 2007 11:04 am
RonUSVI
(@ronusvi)
Noble Member

Your driver's license or voters registration card will suffice. No need for your birth cerificate.

RL

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Posted : April 29, 2007 12:09 pm
leticia
 leticia
(@leticia)
Guest

Future Islander, When you say ferry you mean by sea in general? You don't have to be on a ferry, you may be on a private boat right? My cousin may be joing our group last min. and has no passport. I called the airline and found that she can use her licence and original copy of her birth cirt. w/ raised seal but could not be sure about the JVD trip by sea thing. Leticia

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Posted : April 29, 2007 4:48 pm
Sandcrab
(@sandcrab)
Estimable Member

Why do these threads persist??? You don't need a passport. But, why won't you get one??? Question not directed to any one person. If you want to travel anywhere non-US, you need one. It's like you buy appropriate luggage, clothes, and passport. Now, you're good to go for ten years. This seems like a no-brainer to my ...some say , no brained skull.

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Posted : April 29, 2007 11:28 pm
beachfam of 6
 beachfam of 6
(@beachfam of 6)
Guest

Well in our case, we won't be traveling outside the US EXCEPT St. Thomas any time soon, and with six of us it was just an added extra expense that we figured we didn't need this time. That is why we don't have them.

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Posted : April 29, 2007 11:54 pm
Sandcrab
(@sandcrab)
Estimable Member

WOW! Bunch of you! That certainly adjusts my thinking abit...but, you still don;t need passports. My advice....cause I think you'll be back to the Carib...purchase them ...passports, a few at a time...like oldest first, so they can do spring break....I know they don't need it at Key West or Panama City. Love you for taking me out of my element and pat answers. Hope you get a satisfactory resolve!!!

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Posted : April 30, 2007 12:23 am
RonUSVI
(@ronusvi)
Noble Member

Still sandcrab I agree with you no matter the size of the family. A passport will be necessary in the near future and by then it will problably cost more and take longer to get! Passports are a normal thing in the rest of the world and some places cost more than the US!

RL

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Posted : April 30, 2007 7:57 am
Future Islander
(@future-islander)
Prominent Member

Leticia:

You got me on this one.

I know that you don't need a passport (but you do need an official birth certificate and another government issued photo I.D., i.e. drivers license) to travel to and from the BVIs via the ferry until January 2008. However, I don't know if that applies to non-commercial vessels such as a private boat.

Perhaps someone else can help with this.

F.I.

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Posted : April 30, 2007 9:23 am
A Davis
(@a-davis)
Honorable Member

I know that a lot of printed items were based upon the initial reports that the U.S. Passport office issued, which DID NOT mention the difference between the U.S. Virgin Islands and other territories, and the continental US. Our Delegate to Congress, as well as tourism officials pounded that until it gave.

Confusion reigned, trust me. And they keep changing it. First it was land, sea and air, and now it's only land and air until 2008. First it was everyone, regardless of age, then it was young children OK for all those school trips that would have had the kebosh put on 'em.

No wonder this topic keeps coming up. Truth is, you don't need one to enter the United States Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, the original birth certificate and a government issued photo ID will do. Here in the V.I. we no longer consider the voter registration card as proof of citizenship, so the birth certificate to me is more reliably acceptable. One establishes your citizenship, one establishes your residency. With the two aspects combined, you are legitimized.

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Posted : May 1, 2007 5:16 pm
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