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Do you need a passport to fly to Hawaii?

Summary

  • US citizens do not need a passport for Hawaii flights, but must have a Real ID by May 2025.
  • The REAL ID Act requires compliant identification for domestic flights to and from Hawaii.
  • International travelers must have a valid passport to enter Hawaii. Visa requirements vary depending on nationality.

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Hawaii has beautiful landscapes, crystal clear waters, beautiful sunsets and the most delicious poke bowls you will ever eat! The islands are so spectacular that many forget that they are actually part of the United States.

Questions like “Do I need a passport to fly to Hawaii?” are common! In short: If you are a US citizen or green card holder, you do not need a passport to visit this paradise island! Still, there are some details you need to consider before boarding (or attempting) your flight to the Aloha State.


An Overview of Domestic Travel to the State of Hawaii

Legally, Hawaii is a state within the United States, making travel easier for US citizens from other states. If you plan to visit Hawaii and travel from the United States, you do not need a passport. Instead, an official photo ID, such as a driver's license, is sufficient. Don't get too comfortable flashing your license around, though, because changes are on the horizon and it's best not to be caught unprepared.

According to Cabin Zero, the REAL ID Act will be fully implemented in less than a year, on May 7, 2025 to be exact. What does this mean for domestic travelers? The REAL ID law means that all domestic travelers must have a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or other acceptable identification to board their flights. This upcoming requirement aims to increase security for domestic flights. Discover which airlines fly to Hawaii from the mainland United States.


The REAL ID Act Explained

The REAL ID Act is a federal regulation that goes into effect on May 7, 2025. It requires all domestic air travelers to have a REAL ID-compliant ID. This includes flights to and from Hawaii, including Guam. A star-shaped shield at the top right of the ID document. If your current driver's license or ID card does not display this mark, you must replace your ID card with a compliant new one by the 2025 deadline if you plan to use it for flights within the United States.

The aim of this measure is to standardize the security features and processes for issuing ID cards nationwide. Failure to comply with these new regulations will result in you being denied boarding and having to say “ciao, ciao” during your Hawaii vacation.

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Not a US citizen? Read this!

For international visitors, the rules change and vary depending on the country. If you are entering Hawaii from anywhere outside the United States, you will need a valid passport to enter Hawaii as it is considered part of the United States for customs and immigration purposes.

Depending on your nationality, you may also need a visa to enter the United States. For example, citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program can travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without a visa, provided they obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before their trip.

However, for travel from other countries outside the Visa Waiver Program, stricter requirements apply and an individual case check is helpful.

According to the Department of Transportation, these are the entry requirements for foreign nationals attempting to enter the United States:


category

Countries

details

Visa waiver program

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands , New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom

Eligible for 90-day visits for tourist or business reasons without a visa. Must apply for ESTA.

Visa required

Countries not listed in the Visa Waiver Program

Regardless of VWP eligibility, a visa must be applied for.

Excluded from VWP entry

Citizens of VWP countries who have visited North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 or who have dual citizenship of these countries

Regardless of VWP eligibility, a visa must be applied for.

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Traveling to Hawaii with minors

According to Hawaii Best, traveling to Hawaii with minors is relatively straightforward, especially if they are traveling with their parents and guardians. Children who are U.S. citizens do not need a passport for domestic travel, including flights to Hawaii and other states. However, it is always advisable to carry some form of identification for them, such as a school ID card, birth certificate or passport if they have one! Especially if you are traveling without both parents.

In addition to the regulations set by the DOT (Department of Transportation), various airlines may have specific requirements for minors (especially if they are traveling alone). Therefore, it is important to check with your operating airline before traveling to ensure you have all the necessary documents for your children.


Hawaiian Airlines tail

Photo: dejjf82 | Shutterstock

Frequently asked questions about traveling to Hawaii

Can I use a passport instead of a REAL ID card?

Yes, a current U.S. passport can be an acceptable form of identification for all domestic flights, including flights to Hawaii and Guam. It can also replace a REAL ID after the May 7, 2025 deadline.

What happens if I wait until the deadline to update my REAL ID?

To board domestic flights, you must have a REAL ID-compliant license or passport by the deadline of May 7, 2025. It is important to prepare in advance to avoid travel disruption. The faster you comply with the regulations, the fewer problems you will face!

Are there any exceptions to these requirements?

There are some expectations for certain types of travelers, such as: B. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their dependents who can use their military ID for travel. However, always check the latest guidance from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to confirm.


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In summary, while U.S. citizens do not need a passport for domestic travel to Hawaii, the REAL ID Act will soon change the types of identification required. International travelers will still need a passport and possibly a visa, depending on their country of origin. As always, it is best to check current travel regulations well in advance of your trip to ensure a smooth travel experience to Hawaii.

Anna Harden

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