United States citizens traveling to any of the contiguous states know that they can cross borders without any special documentation. However, when traveling outside of the mainland, it can get a bit confusing. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is an island and located outside of North America. It’s an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, spanning eight major islands.
This region is very popular among travelers, with 2017 welcoming over 9 million visitors. That number went up to over 10,424,000 in 2019. The area is home to beautiful beaches, natural spaces, and many historic landmarks and fascinating attractions. It’s easy to see why so many people choose Hawaii as their vacation destination.
If you are a United States citizen, then you do not need a passport to go to Hawaii if you are departing from the mainland.
Travelers should note that there are upcoming changes that could affect their ability to visit. As of October 2021, all citizens are required to have a Real ID to travel by air. A Real ID replaces the old driver’s licenses and government-issued ID cards previously supplied by each state.
A Real ID is not needed for driving, voting, or general identification, but it is required for air travel or to enter a military base or federal facility.
To obtain your Real ID, you will need to provide proof of identity, proof of your social security number, and two documents that prove your current physical address. You will also have to include proof of legal name changes if applicable.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, then you will be required to produce a valid passport to travel to Hawaii. The requirements and process involved in getting one will vary based on your country of origin. The rules will be the same as they are for traveling to the mainland United States. You should consult your local government office to find out what is needed to get a passport.
Visitors and potential residents should note that there may be other travel restrictions that they have to adhere to based on situation and need. For example, Hawaii is a rabies-free location. Native pets are not required to have rabies vaccinations. Any dogs, cats, and other carnivores must be quarantined before they can be brought into the state. There are some exemptions for service and guide dogs.
Hawaii is also considered the “endangered species capital of the world.” The state has more threatened or endangered species per square mile than any other place in the world. That’s why there are agricultural restrictions that prevent visitors from bringing in seeds, plants, or animals that could disturb the local ecosystem.
Anyone who tries to bring these items into Hawaii is required to declare them on the Agricultural Declaration Form. Plant quarantine inspectors are stationed at baggage claim areas to check for agricultural items.
Planning is essential when traveling anywhere. Even if you don’t need a passport, you should be aware of the rules and restrictions that apply to you before visiting Hawaii.