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Flying To Puerto Rico From The Mainland US  
User currently offlineAT From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 982 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 14322 times:

Is there any immigration control at San Juan when flying from mainland US, and does one need to take one's passport? Or is it treated akin to a domestic flight?

I am a permanent resident and am wondering whether I can just travel with my driver's license or if I need to take my passport and Green Card or anything else along.

Haven't been able to find anything definitive on-line. Any advice would be most appreciated.

28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineNKMCO From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 14321 times:

It's treated as domestic. Drivers license will suffice.

User currently offlineSuper80DFW From United States of America, joined Oct 2007, 1664 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 14321 times:

I think because it is a U.S. Territory, you don't need any passports. I'm not sure though.


"Things change, friends leave, life doesn't stop for anybody." -- EAT'EM UP EAT'EM UP KSU!!
User currently offlineDeltaRules From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3700 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 14288 times:

No passport needed & you don't have to clear customs upon returning to the US.

The only thing that's different from flying anywhere inside the US is that you have to clear a USDA screening when you leave Puerto Rico (SJU, PSE, BQN), which involves a baggage X-ray screening prior to checking your bags in with your airline. They're checking for any fruits or vegetables that may be in your baggage, as these are no-nos when returning to the mainland.



Let's Kick the Tires & Light the Fires!!
User currently offlineAT From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 982 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 14210 times:

So it's treated as a domestic arrival when you get back to the US as well?

User currently offlineXtoler From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 952 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 14191 times:

So far no need for a passport to either Pueto RIco or Guam or the US Virigin Islands. But a passport would help when in the customs line. If you don't have anything to declare and you are a US citizen, the most just flash your passport or a Twix wrapprer and you are on you way ( I just typed that tongue and cheek, but supposedly that's the rule).

By right if you are a US citizen and are in a US territory, you don't need a passport. You do need some sort of ID, like a driver's license or state ID card, just to show you can go back home.



EMB145 F/A, F/E, J41 F/A, F/E, because my wife clipped my wings, armchair captain
User currently offlineNKMCO From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 14191 times:



Quoting AT (Reply 4):
So it's treated as a domestic arrival when you get back to the US as well?

Yes, the same - no customs, no immigration, regular domestic arrival procedures.


User currently offlineJkudall From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 615 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 14139 times:



Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
So far no need for a passport to either Pueto RIco or Guam or the US Virigin Islands. But a passport would help when in the customs line.

Again, there is no "customs line" to go through if you are arriving in Puerto Rico from another US airport. It is a domestic flight.The same goes for flights arriving from Puerto Rico.


User currently offlineAT From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 982 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 14139 times:

Thanks for the responses.

Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
But a passport would help when in the customs line. If you don't have anything to declare and you are a US citizen, the most just flash your passport or a Twix wrapprer and you are on you way ( I just typed that tongue and cheek, but supposedly that's the rule).

Are the customs at the PR end? some of the other posters indicate that there are no customs or immigration at the US end.

Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
By right if you are a US citizen and are in a US territory, you don't need a passport. You do need some sort of ID, like a driver's license or state ID card, just to show you can go back home.

I am assuming the same applies for permanent residents?


User currently offlineRUHFlyer From Saudi Arabia, joined Mar 2007, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 14093 times:



Quoting AT (Reply 8):
I am assuming the same applies for permanent residents?

yes, I've flown to PR from mainland US and only took my drivers license.


User currently offlineNKMCO From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 14086 times:



Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
So far no need for a passport to either Pueto RIco or Guam or the US Virigin Islands. But a passport would help when in the customs line.



Quoting AT (Reply 8):
Are the customs at the PR end? some of the other posters indicate that there are no customs or immigration at the US end.

I believe Xtoler was referring to Guam/USVI, not PR when he made the passport comment.


User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 13971 times:



Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
You do need some sort of ID, like a driver's license or state ID card, just to show you can go back home.

It's not even for the reason of being able to "go back home" -- it's no different than a flight from New York to Florida -- it's just for security. You can do the same "No ID" declaration with the TSA in SJU as you could anywhere else in the US.


User currently offlineCharles79 From Puerto Rico, joined Mar 2007, 1322 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 13928 times:



Quoting Cory6188 (Reply 11):
You can do the same "No ID" declaration with the TSA in SJU as you could anywhere else in the US.

By law you can, but I've yet to see anyone do that in any US airport. If anyone has a first-hand story to tell, please do share, cause I'm curious as to how they process you at checkpoint then.

Quoting AT (Thread starter):
Any advice would be most appreciated.

Nothing to add here as all the others have said it all...other than have fun in my homeland! If you need specific advice (what to see/do) shoot me a PM.

Charles


User currently offlineZvocio79 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 172 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 13817 times:



Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
So far no need for a passport to either Pueto RIco or Guam or the US Virigin Islands. But a passport would help when in the customs line. If you don't have anything to declare and you are a US citizen, the most just flash your passport or a Twix wrapprer and you are on you way

no need to show passport on a Domestic flight.

all you need is a valid ID such as your driver license and a round trip plane ticket so you can come back home....it is a domestc flight and other than going throug TSA you got nothing to worry about.....now if you get on a cruise, and the cruise leaves Puerto Rico and go to other islands, then you gonna need a passport or a birth certificate for US citizens when coming back to PR.....but if you stay in PR, there is nothing to worry about.


User currently offlineJustapassenger From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 95 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 13798 times:

While the San Juan to mainland flights are technically domestic, there are immigration officials stationed after security in the San Juan airport. They do randomly ask if you are a US citizen. I am about as “gringo” looking as they come, and I have been asked my citizenship in very rapid Spanish. I was pleased that I could answer in Spanish, but apparently I had enough of a “gringo” accent that they just waived me past. They are looking for illegals, I suggest that you take your green card, just in case.

User currently offline102IAHexpress From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1156 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 13772 times:

Quoting AT (Thread starter):
or if I need to take my passport and Green Card or anything else along

If you're a LPR, you must have your "green card" on your possession at all times. So yes, you must take your green card with you, but you can leave your passport at home.

[Edited 2008-04-13 18:20:48]

User currently offlinePianos101 From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 365 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 13659 times:



Quoting DeltaRules (Reply 3):
The only thing that's different from flying anywhere inside the US is that you have to clear a USDA screening when you leave Puerto Rico (SJU, PSE, BQN), which involves a baggage X-ray screening prior to checking your bags in with your airline. They're checking for any fruits or vegetables that may be in your baggage, as these are no-nos when returning to the mainland.

actually.... you have to do the same when you leave hawaii. USDA baggage screening points for all luggage leaving the islands and going to the mainland. For the same reasons, too...


User currently offlinePhatfarmlines From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1343 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 13613 times:



Quoting AT (Reply 8):
Are the customs at the PR end? some of the other posters indicate that there are no customs or immigration at the US end.

There is no customs/immigration formalities to process upon arrival at SJU from mainland US or US Virgin Islands. Do be aware though that SJU's arrival meeter-greeter area is set up like an international arrival area, meaning that meeter-greeters can't access the baggage claim area, and once you leave the area, you can't return to it.


User currently offlineSkyguyB727 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 13547 times:



Quoting Charles79 (Reply 12):
By law you can, but I've yet to see anyone do that in any US airport. If anyone has a first-hand story to tell, please do share, cause I'm curious as to how they process you at checkpoint then.

People showing up without valid, government issued ID happens more often than one would think. It's not like during the first Gulf War when "no ID" meant "no flying." Nowadays, photo ID is just a suggestion to make the security process smoother. People can still check in, get through security, and fly without identification.


User currently offlineCharlipr From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2005, 340 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (6 years 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 13545 times:



Quoting Justapassenger (Reply 14):
While the San Juan to mainland flights are technically domestic, there are immigration officials stationed after security in the San Juan airport. They do randomly ask if you are a US citizen. I am about as “gringo” looking as they come, and I have been asked my citizenship in very rapid Spanish. I was pleased that I could answer in Spanish, but apparently I had enough of a “gringo” accent that they just waived me past. They are looking for illegals, I suggest that you take your green card, just in case.

Justapassegner is correct! Immigration/Customs officials will randomely be stationed at the gates and ask for citizenship/proof of legal residence (i.e. Green Card). There is not an "official" clearance, but many time I have been asked for my citizenship prior to boarding. My wife was asked and she told them that she was a resident and they wanted to see here green card. It is a domestic flight, but when you are returning the customs regulation permits random inspections prior to boarding. Highly suggest that you take your green card. Trust me, I lived there for 18 years and travel back and forth about 4 times per year.


User currently offlineAT From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 982 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (6 years 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 13497 times:

Thank you all so much for your informed replies...
This is very useful, and yes, I will definitely take my Green Card with me....

I also had a couple questions about the best way of getting from the main island of PR to Vieques; perhaps I should pose it as a separate thread as it is a distinct topic.


User currently offlineAAJFKSJUBKLYN From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 886 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (6 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 13479 times:

Vieques to PR...take the Ferry..its a great ride and it's quick!

User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7737 posts, RR: 16
Reply 22, posted (6 years 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 13425 times:

At least in my one trip there even on a domestic US flight you can shop at duty free. So stock up on those $20 a carton smokes and $8 a liter bottles of rum.


Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22318 posts, RR: 20
Reply 23, posted (6 years 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 13312 times:



Quoting Charlipr (Reply 19):
Justapassegner is correct! Immigration/Customs officials will randomely be stationed at the gates and ask for citizenship/proof of legal residence (i.e. Green Card). There is not an "official" clearance, but many time I have been asked for my citizenship prior to boarding.

What happens to citizens who don't have a passport or other proof of citizenship with them? I can certainly get to Puerto Rico with I.Ds that non-citizens can procure.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineAirbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 7874 posts, RR: 10
Reply 24, posted (6 years 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 13278 times:



Quoting Xtoler (Reply 5):
So far no need for a passport to either Pueto RIco or Guam or the US Virigin Islands.

That's not true, for those not interested in returning to the US from the US Virgin Islands  Smile At in STT, you need to pre-clear customs and immigration before boarding the flight back which means a passport is required for non US citizens.


25 DeltaRules : Or you can fly direct to Vieques from SJU, though this option will be pricier.
26 Post contains links TheGreatChecko : You have a couple of options. There are a few smaller airlines that fly from SJU to Vieques and from TJIG, the airport near Old San Juan, next to the
27 Charlipr : Well if Customs believes you are a citizen, then they will let you go without no problem, if they do not believe you, then you could be held for ques
28 MAH4546 : I flew once by showing my Costco membership card. They don't care if you don't have ID, they'll just give you extra screening.
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