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You live in the United States. You have a coastal cruiser. You may want to go north, south or east, but not half way across the planet.
Do you have / want a passport, passport card or both?
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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If you want to go to another country, even close by, get a passport. It makes life simple.
 
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While Passports are great cruising boats, I don't think it's necessary to have one for coastal cruising. See many other argument threads about this.
 
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Passports are required for all air travel. Land and sea border crossings (in most of Western Hemisphere) can use a Passport Card. These are great for the boat as they are cards and cannot get wet. Also better for ID (in any case) because they have no personal contact information on them like your address and such. So if it gets stolen, they only have your passport card #, DOB, and the city you were born in. Much less info than is on a driver's license.

Passport Cards

Differences Between Passport Book and Passport Card

If you think you'll only be sailing to/from US, Canada, and Mexico. The passport card will suffice. I suggest getting both (we did) and keep your passport card on your person when traveling on the boat in other countries and keep the passport somewhere safe for emergencies of if you have to fly home.
 

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Do you want to come back to the US? If so, you need a passport to get back in.
 

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Have card in my wallet but leave my and all crew passports with doc papers on the boat in plastic filing box which is kept in discreet locker. Passports and doc papers only leave the boats to get rid of Q flag or clearing out.
Safer that way. If wallet stolen or misplaced travel/clearance not interrupted. If asked for proof of citizenship while on land still have something. If boarded all necessary papers in one safe dry place.
 

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More and more states are now starting to require a passport or enhanced ID even for domestic air travel. (some already do, some are coming soon). At this point, there's really no reason to not just get the passport and be covered for all trips, instead of trying to figure out "ok, this place I only need this, but this one needs THIS, but that place doesn't need any, but THAT place needs EVERYTHING". I'm getting mine set that way at the first of the year.
 

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Old soul
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Passport required for Canada and Mexico as well as the fun parts of the Caribbean
Actually, the last time I checked (so perhaps it has changed), technically it wasn't Canada that demanded you have a passport. It is your country: the USA. Last time I looked Canada did not have a legal requirement that US citizens have a passport to enter our country. But the US demands that everyone have one to get into theirs. So you might be able to come to Canada without a passport ... you just can't go home :laugher

In reality, Canada Border Service probably won't let you in here without a valid US passport either. But that's b/c the US demands one; not Canada.
 

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Master Mariner
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Let's put it this way.
You are off on your voyage and come into a port, let's say Palm Beach. While you are having that well deserved beer celebrating another successful day on the water, the guy sitting next to you strikes up a conversation with you.
A couple of beers later he turns to you and says, "Hey, I'm leaving for the Bahamas tomorrow and could sure use some help. How about $500.00 and a return air ticket?"
Your reply, "Gee, I'd really like to help you, but I don't have a passport."
nuff said?
 
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██▓▓▒▒░&
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Passport card has limited value. The DoS web site will tell you what it is supposed to be good for.
Last time I renewed my passport, I said wtf? and got the card as well, since everyone is ID-crazy these days. And a funny thing happened. I used it as "Can I see your ID please?" at a major airport, and after he said "Thank you, proceed" the nice TSA man said "Oh by the way, what kind of card was that? I've never seen one before."

They'd been out a good five years or longer at that point, fwiw.

They also confuse the hell out of domestic bureaucrats, bankers, and storekeepers, because there's no ADDRESS on them.

Still, if my passport was stolen, it would give me a fairly convincing ID to bring to the local embassy when I applied for some aid.
 

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I can't re Member
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If you're going to be crossing the U.S. Canada border with any frequency, a Nexus card really smooths the way. Only hitch, everyone on board needs one.

goat
 

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Full time cruiser
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Why not just get it and have it on hand. If you use an airport better than a drivers license. And who knows some day when you hit Florida you may get the crazy urge to go to the Bahamas - so you just go. And it is better id than a drivers license. No big hassle in getting it. One of those things if you have and never use - oh well -- but if you need and don't have could not good.
 

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1979 Morgan Out Island 41
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Sharkbait, there was talk of them starting to look at passports coming into mexico via walking but as of July 2015 I had not run into it personally (that's when I moved back to the states). The card gets you into the Ready Lanes (walking or driving) coming back from Mexico which at times can be a little faster.

I'm a person that lives with only minimal touches with the grid and I like to move every few years. When I went to get my passport I had to jump through some hoops to prove my identity because I was not at my place of residence long enough to get a new state id or file taxes an I ran my important accounts through a mail forwarding service so I didn't have to change addresses all the time. It wasn't the end of the world but was a few weeks delay as I sent in more paperwork. So get your passport before you start nomading it as the .gov system doesn't like people outside of their cubicle houses and their cubicle jobs.
 
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