Traveling out of the United States without a passport

The United States IRS has frozen over 365,000 US passports last week. If you owe more than $50,000 to the IRS, you won’t be able to renew your passport and it could be revoked at any time. And this got me to thinking, how can someone travel out of the United States without a passport? In this post, I will look at how to travel out of the US without a passport.

When your one and only passport expires, and you can’t get a new one, or your passport is revoked for any reason, you’re basically stuck in your home country. Without a valid passport, you won’t be allowed on an international flight and are locked into the United States until you pay off the IRS in full.

Of course, if you have a second passport, you can use that to leave the US and travel to any country that gives you visa free access. There are two ways to get a second passport. You can earn one over time or you can buy one.

The fastest option is to pay cash for a second passport in a country like St. Lucia or Dominica. Simply pay about $125,000 (single applicant), and submit a bunch of documents proving you have no criminal history, and you’ll get a second passport. This travel document gives you visa free access to 130 countries, including everywhere in Europe you want to be.

If you don’t have an extra $125,000 laying around, you can earn a second passport over time. For example, invest $20,000 in Panama’s reforestation program and get residency for you and your family. Be a resident for 5 years and become eligible to apply for citizenship. That’s to say, earn your citizenship by being a resident and valuable member of the community for 5 years.

And residency gives you an added benefit. Permanent residency in Panama should allow you to remain in Panama if your only passport is revoked. This means that the US can’t force you home to face the taxman… you and deal with Uncle Sam from Panama on your own terms.

However, you must complete the residency visa or second passport process before losing your US passport. You must have a valid passport to apply for residency or to purchase a second passport.

So, if you don’t have a second passport nor a second residency, what are your travel options? Where can you travel without a passport?

The first option that many miss are the US administered territories. In the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands fall into this category. The US Virgin Islands include St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. You can travel out of the United States to a US territory.

There was a time when US citizens didn’t need a passport to visit most Caribbean islands. Those rules all changed in 2009. Today, you must have a valid passport to enter any foreign country by air or sea.

And the last bit of that sentence is the key to this article: you must have a valid passport to enter any foreign country by air or sea.

I also note that you must have a passport book or passport card to enter Canada.

So, this leaves one and only one option for international travel without a passport. You can drive into Mexico without a passport. There is no immigration checkpoint entering Mexico by land (if you fly into Mexico, you go through immigration).

Also, you are allowed to return to the United States at a land border without a passport. You must provide proof of citizenship, and it will take you a while to talk your way back in, but you’ll eventually be allowed to enter the US from Mexico without a passport.

Acceptable proof of citizenship when entering the United States at a land border includes an original or certified copy of a government issued birth certificate (raised seal and signature) and a laminated government issued picture ID (typically, driver’s license), Consular Report of Born Abroad Certificate, or a Certificate of Naturalization.

Once you’re in Mexico, you can travel throughout the country without a passport. Domestic flights require only a valid ID, such as a US driver’s license. There are no immigration checkpoints for domestic flights.

From time to time, authorities might ask to see your passport. They just want to know that you have a US passport or passport card. They don’t verify it’s validity. They just want proof you’re from the US and not from a restricted country.Consumer Resource Guide

I should also point out that you can’t drive a US vehicle more than about 30 miles into Mexico. If you want to drive south, you’ll need a car with local plates or to pay a big fee for a permit. The purpose here to prevent Americans from driving cars into southern Mexico and selling them.

All of the above is based on my personal experience of traveling throughout Mexico for many years. In fact, I’m writing this post at the Tijuana airport flying to Mexico City using only my California driver’s license. In my experience, the only option for traveling out of the United States without a passport is in Mexico.

Note that this article is not a statement of the law. I’m saying that a workaround to the law exists in Mexico. You can drive into the country (or walk across the border) and then travel throughout Mexico.

If you want to increase your travel options, then you can buy a second passport or get residency in a country such as Panama. Just remember that this must be done before you lose your US passport.

I hope you’ve found this article ion traveling out of the United States without a passport to be helpful. For more information on residency in Mexico or Panama, or to purchase a second passport, please contact us below by filling out the form, Thank you. All consultations are free and confidential.