Passport Day in the United States is April 9th and in recognition of that day we thought we’d take the time to answer a few questions we get regularly about what travel documents are needed to travel to Alaska. Alaska became the 49th state of the United States on January 3rd, 1959 however Alaska is separated from the rest of the contiguous United States by Canada. Check out our map if you want to see how Alaska borders Canada, not the Northwest United States! This international border creates a unique passport situation. All foreign travelers need a passport from their country to enter the United States. As a U.S. citizen, whether you need a passport for your Alaska vacation depends on how you are getting to and from Alaska.
The passport situation was complicated further when regulations for travel between the United States and Canada changed in 2007 and then again in 2008. Since January 1, 2008 U.S. travelers traveling between Alaska and Canada via air, land or sea will be required to have in their possession a current U.S. passport.
If you are flying to Alaska from another city within the United States you do not need a passport. If you are arriving in Alaska or departing Alaska via an Alaskan cruise you will need a passport as most Alaskan bound cruises start or end in Vancouver, BC.
Traveling to Alaska by car would also require a passport because you have to travel through Canada. Even driving to Haines, Alaska from Anchorage, Alaska requires a border crossing so a passport would be required. If you are planning on taking the ferry from Bellingham, Washington to Haines, Alaska you will need a passport if you plan on driving further into Alaska. Passports are required for both adults and children. Keep in mind that it takes some time to go through the process of getting a passport so don’t procrastinate. If in doubt, it is best to have your passport in your possession as a piece of identification.