Can You Travel to Alaska Without a Passport?

Can You Travel to Alaska Without a Passport

Alaska is a popular travel destination for many reasons – its incredible natural beauty, abundance of wildlife, glaciers, mountains, and more. But unlike traveling to other U.S. states, there are some unique requirements when visiting Alaska. One common question is: can you travel to Alaska without a passport?

The short answer is yes, you can travel to certain parts of Alaska without a passport under specific circumstances. However, to fully experience all that the state has to offer, having a valid U.S. passport is highly recommended.

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Alaska without a passport, including:

  • Can You Visit Alaska Without a Passport?
  • Exceptions for U.S. Citizens
  • What Areas of Alaska Don’t Require a Passport?
  • Alternatives to Using a Passport in Alaska
  • Tips for Visiting Alaska Without a Passport
  • Getting a Passport for Alaska & General Travel

Can You Visit Alaska Without a Passport?

Visit Alaska Without a Passport
Visit Alaska Without a Passport

In general, you need a valid U.S. passport book or passport card to enter Alaska, whether traveling by air, land, or sea. This applies to all travelers, including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals.

The one exception is for U.S. citizens traveling to certain border towns or communities by land or sea from other parts of the U.S. or Canada. As we’ll explain more below, these areas do not require a passport under certain circumstances.

However, a passport is required to visit the vast majority of Alaska, especially when traveling by air. For foreign travelers, proper documentation like a passport and visa is always required.

Exceptions for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Citizens
U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens can visit a limited portion of Alaska near the Canadian border without a passport when traveling by car or ferry. This includes border towns like Skagway and Haines.

To qualify for this exception, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are a U.S. citizen (including dual citizens).
  • You are traveling from another part of the U.S. or Canada.
  • You are entering Alaska by land or sea only (no air travel).
  • You remain within 25 miles of the border towns.
  • You don’t plan on visiting any other part of Alaska.

As long as you meet all of these qualifications, U.S. citizens can travel to and from Hyder, AK from Stewart, British Columbia, and to several southeast Alaskan towns like Skagway and Haines from northern British Columbia.

You will need to show proof of U.S. citizenship like a passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate when crossing the border. Children under 16 only need to verify their citizenship verbally.

What Areas of Alaska Don’t Require a Passport?

Here are some of the main Alaska border towns and regions accessible to U.S. citizens without a passport:

Hyder, AK

This small, isolated town sits along Alaska’s southeastern border with Canada. It can be reached via vehicle from Stewart, British Columbia without passing through any official border control. Hyder is located over an hour’s drive from the nearest Alaskan town, Ketchikan.

Skagway, AK

Located near the northern end of the Inside Passage, Skagway can be reached via vehicle or ferry from British Columbia’s Fraser region. The White Pass and Yukon Route railway also connects Skagway to the Yukon territory in Canada.

Haines, AK

Haines sits just south of Skagway along the Inside Passage. You can drive there from British Columbia’s Haines Junction or take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry.

Nome, AK

On Alaska’s remote Seward Peninsula, Nome sits just 37 miles from the Russian border. U.S. citizens can travel there from the nearest town of Egvekinot, Russia without a passport. However, traveling to/from Russia requires special visas and permissions.

Alaska Coastal Communities

U.S. citizens can visit certain small towns and villages scattered along Alaska’s Inside Passage by ferry from Canada, including Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Sitka.

That covers the limited regions exempt from needing a passport. But the vast majority of Alaska does require passports for U.S. citizens, especially when traveling by air.

Alternatives to Using a Passport in Alaska

If you don’t have a valid passport, here are some other forms of identification that U.S. citizens can use to enter Alaska from Canada or other states:

  • Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) – Special driver’s licenses containing citizenship information, issued by some states.
  • Passport Card – Wallet-sized ID that can only be used at land and sea borders, not airports.
  • Military ID – Active duty military members can use their military ID. The family must show birth certificates.
  • Native American Tribal Card – Official federal tribe ID cards qualify if carrying citizenship info.
  • Trusted Traveler Cards – Members of Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, etc. can use those cards.

However, a passport book offers the most flexibility and convenience for traveling to Alaska. The passport card and enhanced licenses have major limitations compared to a passport book.

Tips for Visiting Alaska Without a Passport

Tips for Visiting Alaska
Tips for Visiting Alaska

If you plan to visit Alaska without a full passport book, keep these tips in mind:

  • Confirm eligibility – Double-check that you qualify for the exemption based on citizenship, mode of transport, destinations, etc.
  • Stick to itineraries – Carefully plan your route to avoid any unauthorized areas or checkpoints.
  • Have backup ID ready – Bring documents that verify your U.S. citizenship and identity.
  • Allow extra time – Border crossings will take longer than for passport holders.
  • Research carefully – Review all rules and verify border crossing procedures.
  • Consider getting a passport – Applying for a passport will provide the most flexibility and convenience.
  • Check visa requirements – Foreign travelers will need proper U.S. visas along with passports.

While doable for some U.S. citizens in limited cases, visiting Alaska without a passport can be restrictive. However proper planning and preparation can help ensure your trip goes smoothly.

Getting a Passport for Alaska & General Travel

We highly recommend getting a passport if you plan to visit Alaska or travel internationally in the future. Here are some tips and reasons why:

  • Opens up all of Alaska – A passport lets you explore the entire state without restrictions.
  • Needed for air travel – You can’t fly to or within Alaska without a valid passport.
  • Speeds up border crossings – Passport lines are faster than citizenship verification lanes.
  • Adds flexibility – Make last-minute detours or side trips without worrying about documentation.
  • Valid for 10 years – Adult passport books can be used for all your travels over a decade.
  • Eases anxiety – Reduce stress by knowing your documentation is covered.
  • Required for most foreign travel – Whether Mexico, Canada, or overseas – you’ll need it!
  • Easy to apply – Get started online and visit an acceptance center to submit paperwork.
  • Can take 4-6 weeks – Leave time for routine processing when applying for a new passport.
  • Costs $110-$150 – Application fees for first-time adult passport books. Can pay extra for expedited service.

We hope this gives you a better understanding of whether or not you need a passport when planning your dream trip to Alaska. While not strictly required everywhere, having a passport makes travel to and around the state easier, more flexible, and more enjoyable. It also opens up international travel in the future. Safe travels!