What Documents Do I need to Travel within the United States?

Documents Do I need to Travel within the United States


The United States is pretty strict when it comes to its security. Whether you are a US native or not, you have to follow specific rules while traveling inside the US. However, the travelers are pretty confused about the requirements of documents for traveling.

Are you planning to go on a trip within the US? Do you want to avoid any trouble at the airport? Then, you are in the right place. We will give you details about all the documents that one must-have for traveling within the US. We will also explain the ESTA Application procedure and the difference between ESTA and VISA.

Documents Do I need to Travel within the United States

Do I need a Passport to Travel with the US?

Residents need to carry comparatively fewer documents than foreigners. Passport is necessary for all US foreigners that want to travel by airplanes. A foreigner can face a lot of trouble and fuss after losing his passport. Keep your Visitor’s Visa paperwork with you for use in an emergency.

On the other hands, the residents do not need a passport for traveling within the US. But, keep in mind, the same rule doesn’t apply to international travelers. Whether you are an American or India, everyone needs a passport for international traveling.

Moreover, make sure that the validity date of your passport hasn’t exceeded its limit.

Do I need an ID to travel within the US?

Yes, one must have an acceptable ID to travel in the US. Driver’s License and ID card are readily accepted at the airports.

What to do if you have lost your ID?

Losing an ID card does not mean that a person can’t travel within the US unless he gets a new one. The primary purposes for submitting an ID at the airport is to give proof of your identity. If you submit enough documents that prove your identity, then you are good to travel. Their personal information must match with the public databases. Such travelers that do not have a proper ID have to go through an additional screening process.

Substitute for ID Cards

Travel security Administration has given a complete list of documents that can be used as an ID. These include

  • Passport or passport card of the US as a substitute of ID card.
  • Residency Card
  • Driving License
  • The ID card of US department of Defense
  • Military ID card
  • Social Security Card
  • Traveler Cards by DHS trusted companies i.e., NEXUS, CENTRI, FAST, GLOBAL ENTRY

Do Children Need an ID?

No, Children under 18 are not bound to show their identity card if they are traveling with adults. But those who have to travel alone must have some sort of ID in order to travel within the US.

But to be extra cautious bring a school ID card or birth certificate for your child. Moreover, most airlines allow children younger than two years to travel for free. Sometimes the staff demands proof of his age that is where a birth certificate comes handy.

Another requirement

Make sure that the name printed on your airline ticket is same as the one in the ID. If your name changed after purchasing the ticket, then you must bring proof of name change. These include marriage certificated or a valid document that proves that your name has changed, or court order. Else, TCA will not allow passing the checkpoint.

The rule for green cardholders

Unlike other foreigners, green card holders do not need a passport to travel within the US. But still, they have to give proof of their identity. The green card will work exactly like a passport or ID card. But it will be wise to keep your driving license in order to avoid any trouble at the checkpoint.

ESTA Holders

There is no need for VISA for ESTA holders to confirm their identity. ESTA means an electronic system for a travel authorization. ESTA allows citizens of 36 countries to travel to the US without a VISA. These 36 countries are a part of the VISA Waiver Program that makes them eligible for filing an ESTA application. But keep in mind that having an ESTA does not mean that you can travel within the US without Identification. Whether you have a VISA or an ESTA, you must not forget your passport. Else you will face serious inconvenience at the checkpoint.

Now the question arises, what is the difference between ESTA and VISA? Well, we have a simple explanation for this. The procedure of getting a VISA is pretty hectic. On the other hand, one has to fill an online application form for ESTA and submit the fee. Moreover, the chances of getting an ESTA are excellent as compared to VISA.

One need only following documents for ESTA

  • A valid passport
  • Personal information
  • Eligibility to get ESTA
  • PayPal account or credit card

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