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I am a US Permanent Resident and I booked a cruise to Alaska. It is a closed loop cruise starting and ending in on Seattle, WA. It has one stop in Canada which is Victoria,Canada

I just realized that my wife's passport expired last month. I thought that it would be okay since her Green Card is still valid. The last time we visited Canada I had my Green Card and I don't think I carried my passport. We are going to submit a passport renewal application, but I am not sure it will be renewed in time.

The USCIS link says that people do not have to carry a passport if they are a US citizen and are on a closed loop cruise.

In our case, we are Permanent Residents, not citizens; would our Green Card be fine? If not, what is the final authority that decides if we can travel, or if we could even attempt it?

Do Canadian officials know who is on the ship, or it is just cruise ship staff? Who has final authority to deny our entry on the cruise? What is the best way to approach the situation?

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    The cruise staff (or the staff they contract to check people in at the port) are the final authority. If you don't meet their requirements, you're not boarding, regardless of government rules. – Zach Lipton Jun 26 '17 at 0:08
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    Where does your cruise start and end? What is your citizenship? – DJClayworth Jun 26 '17 at 2:27
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    Then Canadian officers are irrelevant. If you don't get off the ship in Canada, you will have no problems with Canadian immigration. Your only problem will be getting back into the US. Talk to US immigration and the cruise line staff and see if they will let you on. – DJClayworth Jun 26 '17 at 3:16
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    @DJClayworth I don't think that's necessarily true. Even if you don't get off the ship in Canada, the cruise line is still responsible for processing you through immigration behind the scenes. For example, if you're a national of a country where a visa is required to travel to Canada, you wouldn't normally be allowed on the cruise if you just said "oh I won't get off in Canada." Of course, in this case, green card holders can enter Canada with just their green card, but the point is that the foreign country matters even if you don't get off the ship. – Zach Lipton Jun 26 '17 at 6:07
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    @ZachLipton On a Princess Alaskan cruise that had a stop at a Canadian port, they would not board anyone without a passport and/or visa for Canada (if necessary). They did not care if you planned to disembark at that port or not. – mkennedy Jun 26 '17 at 17:44
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+50

Holland America's travel documents say:

For Non-U.S./Non-Canadian Citizens:

You must have and carry a passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your travel. Please carefully verify the existing identification requirements for your particular travel situation. In addition, non-U.S. citizens who have previously been admitted to the United States for permanent residence must carry their Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), commonly known as a Green Card. Resident aliens not in possession of this must obtain one at the nearest office of the U.S. Immigration Service.

[...]

Guests are responsible for verifying and obtaining any necessary travel documents for entry and exit to the countries visited, as these requirements vary depending on the specific port and nationality of the traveler. This includes payment of all costs related to arrangements to obtain entry to the countries you visit. Boarding may be denied or fines levied against those guests arriving at the pier without the proper documentation, and those guests will not be eligible for a refund. Payment of any fines levied is the responsibility of the individual guest. Please note that fees and visa requirements are subject to change without notice.

In short, you must have a passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your travel and a green card with you if you're not a US or Canadian citizen. No exception is listed for permanent residents to travel without a passport. That's the cruise line's rule regardless of any government regulations that would allow you to travel with less. The cruise line is the final authority that determines whether you can board, and it can make its own rules about travel documents.

You can always contact the cruise line, but if they tell you that you can travel, I'd want that in writing, and you're still entirely at the mercy of the staff at the port, who could refuse you boarding anyway.

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    @TeaLeave don't trust a random person on the phone - always get everything in writing – JonathanReez Jun 26 '17 at 19:51
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    The person who checks you in, often a contractor, will follow whatever rules they've been given by Holland America. If their little handbook says you need a passport, then you need a passport, and they're not going to care if you say someone on the phone told you otherwise. If you're going to attempt to board without a passport, you absolutely need something in writing from the cruise line. – Zach Lipton Jun 26 '17 at 19:54
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    Ok so I called the cruise-line and they said that the custom-immigration-officer on the port decides everything and they don't have a say into this matter. I called CBP(Airport NOT seaport because there is no direct seaport number). The CBP officer said ONLY GC is fine. However, she cannot speak for the seaport authorities – Lost Jun 26 '17 at 20:18
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    I would not trust the cruise-line. Check any consumer complaints website and you'll see a lot of incidences of people being told the wrong visa/passport information over the phone by cruise companies and then literally left at the dock. – RoboKaren Jun 26 '17 at 20:24
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    You Need to E-Mail Holland America, and if they say it's up to the CBP, E-Mail the CBP. Then get both answers in writing – Crazydre Jul 12 '17 at 1:17
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OK this is not an answer as in if this is how it legally works. However, this is what happened when I traveled on Holland America cruiseline with expired passport and a valid GreenCard

  1. When boarding the cruise-ship the officer who was responsible for checking our documents acknowledged that the passport is expired but that is fine since the Green Card is valid and we were able to board the cruiseship without any problems
  2. When disembarking in Victoria,Canada they asked us to fill a form where we need to provide passport information of one family member(normally head of the family) and we provided my passport information(which was not expired)
  3. When we came back to U.S. officer did check only our GC(he checked the passport but did not even bother to mention expired date on the Passport)

Now, we could be extremely lucky that we did not face much scrunity but just for extra preparation I printed out some documentation which I hope may help:

Now, question is when Holland America Website explicitly mentioned that we need the passport then why did they not ask?

First of all I think they have a very generalized guidelines for just-in-case scenarios. The officer who checks our documents at the port is not actually Holland America. That officer is either CBP or in our case they hired a contracting company approved by CBP. So the final authority is the officer on the port which is affiliated with CBP. However, printing the supporting docs helps

  • What year was that? Was it recent? Things change all the time. – smci Sep 11 '18 at 21:11
  • This was July 2017 – Lost Sep 12 '18 at 18:14
  • "they asked us to fill a form where we need to provide passport information of one family member" -> that's the customs declaration and you don't actually need a passport to fill it out, as you can enter Canada with just the Green Card. – JonathanReez May 7 at 19:06
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According to the Seattle Times:

For “closed-loop” sailings such as Seattle-Alaska cruises that depart and return to the same U.S. port, U.S. officials say that a passport or one of the new alternative documents isn’t required — that a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, are sufficient (those documents are needed to prove both a traveler’s identity and citizenship). However, some cruise lines strongly urge cruise passengers to have passports. So check — and double-check — with your cruise line. (And you must have ID even if you’re not planning to get off the ship in Victoria.)

So I'm interpreting it as you do not need a passport since your cruise is "closed-loop". If it were me, I would bring the expired passport just in case. If you don't get off the ship in Canada, then you shouldn't have a problem.

But you should check with Holland America just to be safe.

  • The closed loop is not the relevant part; that simply means that it departs and returns to the same port (US). OP notes that there is a Canadian port call. For that, those who are not US or Canadian citizens require a valid passport or visa to enter Canada, with the exception of US Lawful Permanent Residents who may use their I-551 (Green Card) instead of a passport. – Giorgio Jun 26 '17 at 15:12
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    I don't think there is a big problem getting off the ship in Canada with a valid green card, nor is returning to the US a problem. His only issue is making sure the cruise line sees it that way too. – Dennis Jun 26 '17 at 15:20
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    @ZachLipton You're correct, I overlooked that part. Answer edited. – Michael Jun 26 '17 at 17:12
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    @TeaLeave, USCIS may not have much of an opinion on what is required to enter Canada by sea, you need to rely on a Canadian source for that. The CBP is unambiguous that a green card alone is necessary and sufficient to reenter the US but also points out that your transportation company may have requirements beyond the CBP's. It is the latter that you need to worry about, only the cruise company will know what they require. – Dennis Jun 26 '17 at 17:42
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    A quick read establishes clearly that your quoted paragraph is talking about US citizens. – DJClayworth Jun 26 '17 at 18:50

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