The U.S. Virgin Islands is an outlying Territory of the United States. American citizens, therefore, do not need a passport to vacation or travel there. The United States purchased the territory in January 1917 but didn’t take possession until March 31, 1917.
Like going from New York to California, U.S. citizens do not need to show their identification at every state border. This also applies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and other outlying territories like Puerto Rico or Guam.
However, you will need some essential documents if you are a U.S. citizen flying on an airplane from any of the 50 states to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unlike trains or buses, airlines, the TSA, and Homeland Security require identification when traveling domestically.
The U.S. Virgin Islands may not require a passport, but you will need to show some sort of photo I.D. when you board your flight. You will also need a photo I.D. to return to the U.S. mainland. On top of this, the Covid-19 pandemic has also added a layer of complication.
We will cover all the necessary documentation for United States citizens, including minors, the Covid-19 related restrictions and paperwork, and a bit of history to acquaint you with the U.S. Virgin Islands better.
Documentation Required For US Citizens
As you’ve already seen, the U.S. Virgin Islands do not require U.S. citizens to hold a passport to vacation or travel the tropical paradise. However, you have to take some basic documents and steps to fly domestically in the United States.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a lot like U.S. states in the sense that you can use the U.S. dollar and travel there with a simple photo I.D. However, we should be clear about what documentation is required for flights.
You will need some specific documentation to book and board the flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands. We will talk about these additional steps required due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
Booking a flight within the United States and the U.S. territories requires an adult with a debit card, credit card, or bank account associated with online services like PayPal. Photo identification is not required to book the flight itself but is required in subsequent steps.
During the security and boarding process, you will need your boarding pass. This can either be digital or printed at a kiosk, or some airlines allow teens to travel unaccompanied. The procedures vary between airlines, but the youngest unaccompanied traveler is 12 or older.
Documentation for Non-Citizens
Non-citizens traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands need to follow the CDC guidelines outlined on their website. Whether you are fully vaccinated or not at all, passengers must show a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their plane.
Non-Citizens are required to show a passport and follow CDC protocols to enter the United States. This also applies to the outlying territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands. Below we talk in more detail about the Covid-19-related restrictions and documentation.
During the pandemic, islands like Puerto Rico, Guam, and The U.S. Virgin Islands adopted strict travel policies. It has loosened in 2021, but some protocols need to be followed.
Those entering the U.S. Virgin Islands from the United States or U.S. territories age 5 or older and all international travelers age 2 or older must use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and get cleared for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Those coming from the U.S. must submit a negative Covid-19 test result within 5 days of travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands. International travelers must submit the same, but test requirements depend on vaccination status, citizenship, mode of travel, and age.
If traveling from an international destination by air and fully vaccinated, you must take the test within 3 days of travel. If you are not fully vaccinated, you have 24 hours to submit the negative result to the USVI Travel Screening Portal. You must provide proof of vaccination to your airline or the negative test before you board.
Traveling by ferry or boat must take their test within 5 days of travel and follow the same protocols. Travelers between the ages of 2-17 are exempt from the CDC vaccine requirements.
Do I Need A Passport To Travel To The U.S. Virgin Islands?
The U.S. Virgin Islands has a vibrant culture, first inhabited by the Ciboney and Arawak tribes as early as 1000 BCE. Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the islands and the Spanish later settled the islands. This fighting and European diseases wiped out much of the native populations.
The English and French set up shop on St. Croix almost a century later, and afterward, a complex dispute between the nations and the Netherlands erupted. The Danish-Norweigan kingdom also took interest and settled on St. Thomas and St. John in the late seventeenth century.
Ideal for sugar plantations, the islands became slave economies during the 18th and 19th centuries, but also a sizable Jewish community began to settle on the islands. The Virgin Islands were also the center of slave rebellions, and after a labor riot in 1878, the plantations were no longer profitable.
It wasn’t until the height of WWI that the Danes decided to sell the islands to the U.S. for $25 million. The acquisition took a while, but the fear of the German Navy and the disintegration of monarchy in Europe helped establish the newly named U.S. Virgin Islands. The treaty was signed, and the official ratification was January 17, 1917
With a rich history, vibrant island culture, and a healthy tourist economy, the U.S. Virgin Islands is an ideal vacation destination for many Americans. Cruises and resorts abound, and with no passport requirements, it makes the tropical paradise even more appealing to snowbirds and families.
Though you do not need a passport to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are some intricate steps you must take to fly there and enjoy your experience. It is always smart to prepare, but it is even better to understand not only the history and culture but the steps that keep the citizens of this tropical paradise safe.
Check out our other entry requirement guides…
Why not also check out our other guides to help you figure out where you do and don’t need a passport to travel to: