I'm travelling within the US and am a British citizen. Can I travel without my passport and just show my UK driver's license instead?

  • 6
    If you lost your passport, you should immediately seek out your consulate to get it cancelled and replaced. If you didn't, well, you needed one to get into the US, so why not use it?
    – waiwai933
    Oct 19, 2012 at 3:28
  • @waiwai933 to avoid losing it, obviously.
    – phoog
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:12

3 Answers 3


TSA website has a list of acceptable IDs. From this I would read that only a foreign government-issued passport is acceptable for those travelling without the requisite US (or Canadian) forms of ID.


It's worth noting that if you're just driving, then you need either both forms of your UK driver's license if pulled over, OR the paper form + passport.

One point worth noting is that they're REALLY strict on PASSPORT ID for bars and clubs. I've tried and failed several times to use a UK driver's license, and spoken with many travellers with the same problem. Passport really is required.

  • 1
    +1 on the bars. I was always able to talk my way in using just the pink EU licence, but a lot of places seemed unhappy and would ask for passport instead. Oct 19, 2012 at 8:23
  • oh really, that's surprising. I used a lot my national ID (I don't know if UK has both driver's license and national ID though) and most of the time it worked in the US. I didn't have a lot of happy faces but then I didn't take the risk losing my passport
    – Vince
    Oct 19, 2012 at 8:34
  • I suspect this depends on how generally paranoid the business is in the first place. Fines for letting anyone underage drink are punitive enough that some bars insist on checking the ID of all patrons; not simply those who look under 35 as the law requires. The reason they're likely to get nervous about foreign ID is probably that they can't just swipe it in a cardcheck machine to verify that it's valid, nor do they have the training to identify anything beyond a really bad fake by visual inspection. Oct 19, 2012 at 13:11
  • @Vince: UK does not have ID other than passport/driving licence.
    – e100
    Oct 19, 2012 at 17:02
  • Bars and clubs: these rules are set by the states. They could be different in different jurisdictions.
    – phoog
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:13

The US has a number of circumstances where "government issued ID" is demanded and an "out of state" drivers license isn't good enough, escalating immediately to passport. This includes things like checking into a hotel, picking up your badge at a conference and (I am not making this up) buying medication for a head cold. Mark mentioned getting into a bar which is not an issue for me, but the point is that people want to see your ID rather more than I (a Canadian) expect them to, and if you're not local, they want to see a passport. If an internal domestic flight might not mind you using your UK drivers license, that wouldn't mean that once you got into the States you could ship your passport off for visa-getting purposes or whatnot, because chances are you'll need it pretty regularly while you're there.

  • 1
    If a driver's license is acceptable as ID then any US license will do, and usually any Canadian one will also be acceptable. The TSA is a notable example; they explicitly accept only US and Canadian licenses, so a UK license won't suffice. I've never seen a situation when only in-state licenses are accepted. Foreign licenses are generally accepted only as proof of being licensed to drive.
    – phoog
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:16
  • You've never seen, but I have, and I listed three of them in my answer. I have been asked for a driver's license, passed it over, and got "oh, I need one from [this state]." - not even I need a US one - and the person has then asked for my passport. The only time anyone has found my Canadian DL ok is renting a car in the US. As generic "id" they reject it. Jan 30, 2017 at 12:55
  • 2
    But since you've tried to do these things with a Canadian license rather than an out-of-state US license, I'm skeptical that the latter would have been rejected. Most US citizens don't have a passport, after all. Next time I need some pseudoephedrine I'll try to get it in New Jersey with my New York license and see what happens. I don't remember ever staying in a hotel in the US that required ID, but a hotel refusing out of state licenses seems particularly odd.
    – phoog
    Jan 30, 2017 at 13:17

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