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The U.S. Virgin Islands (“USVI”) are made up of three islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. You don’t need a passport to enter any of these islands if you are a U.S. citizen. However, within the group of “Virgin Islands” are several islands that do require a passport, so you will want to make sure you understand the difference.
In addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are also the British Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands (“BVI”) are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with more than 50 other smaller islands and cays. Since they are a British Territory, you will need a passport the enter any of these islands.
This article will focus on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the documents you need to enter these 3 beautiful Caribbean islands.
Do you need a passport to go to the U.S. Virgin Islands?
If you’re visiting St. Thomas or the other U.S. Virgin Islands from any part of the United States, you won’t have to bring a passport, exchange your currency, update your cell phone plan for international service, or go through customs or immigration.
Since St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John are all United States Territories, U.S. citizens and permanent residents don’t need a passport to enter these islands. However, the Real ID Act is in effect, so you’ll need to make sure your driver’s license is up to date with the REAL ID Format.
The easiest way to find out if your license is a REAL ID complaint is to check and see if it has a gold star in the top right corner. If it has one, you’re all set. If not, you’ll need to go to your secretary of state’s office and update your ID.
If you don’t have a REAL ID driver’s license you can use another type of TSA-approved photo identification or your passport as identification.
TSA Approved Identification for the U.S. Virgin Islands
Adult passengers 18 and over must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel. The following forms of identification are approved by the TSA:
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
International documentation requirements for the Virgin Islands
International travelers will need the same level of documentation to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands as is required to enter the United States.
- All travelers entering the United States from all other countries need a passport upon arrival (regardless of their country of citizenship).
- Permanent residents and foreign nationals may also need a U.S. visa. You must apply for a visa before you start your trip.
Are the Virgin Islands part of the United States?
As an unincorporated United States Territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands has all the benefits of being a Caribbean location with key U.S. benefits. While they are not one of the 50 states, they are a part of the United States as a territory.
This unique territory status enables St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island to utilize U.S. currency, courts, and flag protection. While they fall under the jurisdiction of the United States federal government, they do not hold the same status as the 50 states of the U.S. (e.g. they are not represented in the U.S. Congress).
Virgin Islands Location – Lesser Antilles
The Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean, about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico and about 1100 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. They are part of the Lesser Antilles Chain of islands in the West Indies.
The islands of the Lesser Antilles include the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, and Grenada.
The other islands of the West Indies include the Greater Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago.
The Greater Antilles includes the four large islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico. Hispaniola is divided politically into the Republic of Haiti (west) and the Dominican Republic (east).
The islands of the Lucayan Archipelago include The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.
Islands that don’t require a passport to visit
In addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix), Puerto Rico is a passport-free destination for U.S. citizens as well since they are also U.S. Territories.
In addition to the Caribbean territories of the U.S., there are also several in the Pacific including:
How to get a Passport
While you won’t need it for your trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, here are some links to articles with everything you need to know about applying for and renewing a passport, in the event you want to Island hop to some of the British Virgin Islands.
Additional Passport Information
Here are some other articles that address passport requirements of popular destinations for U.S. Citizens
- Passport Requirements for Puerto Rico
- Passport Requirements for Hawaii
- Passport Requirements for the Bahamas
- Passport Requirements for the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Passport Requirements for Canada
- Passport Requirements for Mexico
Frequently Asked Questions
The U.S. Dollar. Credit cards are accepted at most establishments.
Atlantic Time and they do not follow Daylight Saving Time. USVI uses the same time as the East Coast of the U.S. during the summer months. During daylight saving time, in the fall and winter months, USVI is one hour ahead of East Coast time.
Driving in the USVI is just like driving in the US with a few exceptions. The biggest one being that they drive on the left-hand side of the road.