Do You Need a Passport to Go to Hawaii? Follow step by step instruction!

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Visiting Hawaii is on the list of almost every person who likes traveling and touring the world. One cannot resist the exciting feeling and experience brought by its beautiful sceneries, stunning beaches, aloha spirit, and thrilling activities, which makes Hawaii one of the most preferred vacation destinations in the world.

But most people are not sure what kind of documents one needs to travel to Hawaii as a U.S. or a non-U.S. citizen. This article aims at answering this question. It will also provide other useful information like how you can acquire a passport, what to expect when visiting Hawaii, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for the residents of U.S. territories, and citizens traveling to Hawaii through Canada.

Traveling documents, you need to visit Hawaii

Traveling within the United States of America is as simple as hopping on and off a plane. With the right traveling documents as issued by various government departments, whether as an American citizen or a foreign national, you can enter and move freely from one state to another with many restrictions.

Therefore, if you are planning to travel within the United States, you must carry the necessary travel documents as you move across the country.

Traveling documents required to go to Hawaii for American citizens

Hawaii is one of the fifty states in the United States of America. Therefore, the documents needed when traveling to Hawaii as a U.S. citizen, are the same as those required to travel to any other U.S. state. “Traveling to Hawaii as an American citizen is the same as traveling from the state of California to Florida or Texas or any other state.

Thus, if you are a U.S. citizen traveling to Hawaii from any other U.S. state, you are encouraged to carry at least only a valid identification document. A valid government-issued photo ID is enough to enable you to travel to Hawaii.

This ID is useful since it will allow you to check into hotels and verify your credit card, among other services that you need to access while in Hawaii.

The forms of photo ID that are acceptable include any state ID card, a military ID, driver’s license, or a passport.

With any of these documents, as an American citizen, you can enter, move freely and exit Hawaii in your own comfort.

Traveling documents required to travel to Hawaii for non-American citizens

The documents needed to travel to Hawaii as a non-American citizen are different from those requirements for American citizens.

As a non-American, regardless of one’s country of origin, you need to carry a valid passport, which has at least six months to its expiration date.

The Hawaii government also requires you to have a valid visa or ESTA that you do apply for before you begin your trip to Hawaii.

For legal permanent residents, only need to carry a permanent resident card (Green Card) or any other valid evidence that shows that you are a permanent resident of America.

There are special considerations for citizens of Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada entering Hawaii that do not apply to citizens of other countries. These considerations are specific to the citizens of each country.

  • Canadian citizens can enter and tour Hawaii using a Trusted Traveler Program card (TTP card), a valid passport, or Enhanced Driver’s License. For children under the age of 19 years, traveling with as school, youth, or a religious group, a birth certificate or any other document that can prove their citizenship is enough for them to secure an entry and travel permit within Hawaii state.
  • Bermudian citizens, can use a valid passport to visit Hawaii.
  • Mexican citizens, both children, and adults, need a border crossing card or a valid passport visa to enter Hawaii.

Passport is a universal identification

Compared with other Identification Documents, the Passport card is designed in a manner that can be used worldwide. It is processed to meet the United Nations ICAO machine-readable document standard.

These standards apply to IDs used all over the world. Unlike other IDs like driver’s licenses, which might not even show the country of citizenship of the license holder, the passport contains the words of one’s country in its header.

Your passport also contains national symbols like the flag of your country. In the case of countries like the U.S., where every state has a state symbol, the symbol in the passport emphasizes one being a citizen of the United States and not a particular state.

This makes one be easily understood as an American citizen by the outside world, which might not be familiar with every state in the U.S.

How to get a passport

You need to apply for your passport some months before you start your tour. There are two kinds of forms you used to apply for a passport depending on individual circumstances. If any of the following conditions apply to you, you need to use Form DS-11 to apply for your passport.

  • If it is you are a first-time passport applicant
  • If you are below 16 years of age
  • If you were issued with your previous passport when you were below 16 years
  • In case your previous passport got lost, damaged or stolen
  • If you were issued your last passport more than 15 years ago

But if you feed none of these statements apply to you, then you are eligible to use Form DS-82 to renew your passport.

Below is a simple procedure on how you can acquire a passport in America.

Step 1: Fill out correctly Form DS-11

  • From the state department website, complete your Form DS-11 to apply for a U.S. passport.
  • Print your completed application. Note that you should not sign that application form as a postal employee, or any other passport acceptance agent needs to witness your signature.
  • You should also have your passport photo taken.

Step 2: Provide proof of U.S. Citizenship

You must submit to the acceptance agent one of the following documents to prove you are an American citizen. The document you submit may be an original or a certified copy.

  • A valid and undamaged U.S. passport, it may be expired or not.
  • Valid U.S. birth certificate
  • A valid Certificate of Nationalization
  • A valid Certificate of Citizenship

It is important to note that you are not allowed to present digital evidence of your U.S. citizenship like an electronic or mobile birth certificate. You need to present physical proof of your U.S. citizenship.

The photocopy of the document submitted as evidence for one’s citizenship must meet the following criteria. It must be,

  • Legible
  • Printed in black and white Single-sided
  • Printed on a standard white paper of 8.5′ x 11.’

Failure to submit a document of your citizenship proof, the processing of your passport might be delayed, as the state department will need to do some background research to a certain that you are an American citizen.

Step 3: present an Identification Document (ID)

The ID you present must readily identify you. You can submit any of the following documents as your ID

  • U.S. military department ID
  • Government employee ID
  • U.S. Permanent Residence Card (Green Card).
  • Any Trusted Traveler ID
  • A valid and undamaged U.S. passport, it may be expired or not.
  • A valid Certificate of Nationalization
  • A valid Certificate of Citizenship

You should also present a copy of the identification document presented, printed in the same standards as the citizenship evidence document.

Note that if you are under 17 years or your passport got stone or lost, or you are requesting a sex marker change or applying for a diplomatic passport, there are additional requirements for your passport application.

Step 4: Provide a photo

Provide a clear photo when you are submitting your application form. Ensure that the picture you provide meets the requirements for a passport application photo.

Step 5: Calculate your application fees

The cost of your passport will vary depending on,

  • The type of the passport you are applying for, whether is an ordinary or diplomatic passport,
  • The number of pages of your passport
  • Your age, the cost for children applicant is cheaper compared with adult applicants

Therefore, you need to clearly calculate the cost of the application fee of your passport and its execution fee. Remember, these two fees are paid separately.

Step 5: Submit your completed application and track your application status

You need to submit your application form, correctly filled, and other required documents to the passport agency. You can track the status of your application either by calling or more efficiently through online. You should start monitoring your application after 7-10 working days since the submission of your application.

Visa walver program (VWP); For citizens of U.S. Territories

VWP is a U.S. government program that enables particular countries to travel to the United States of America, without necessarily having to obtain a visa. Using this program, eligible citizens can travel o U.S. as tourists or for business for a period not exceeding 90 days. This program applies to at least 50 states and districts of Columbia, including the U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico, with limited application to other territories of the U.S.A.

For one to be eligible for the VWP scheme, one needs to attain the following qualifications.

  • Must have a biometric passport. All individuals coming from VWP countries must be processing a biometric passport with an IC chip. Every individual must have his own e-passport, including children. Under this program, it is not possible to include children in their parents’ passport.
  • Must apply and obtain authorization for travel through Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), at least three days before departing from his country of origin to the U.S.A.
  • One must be possessing a ready return ticket or a ticket to the next destination before entering the U.S.A.
  • His period of stay in the U.S. should not exceed 90 days.

The purpose of traveling to the U.S. must be among the following,

  • business
  • sightseeing
  • short-term training
  • tourism
  • contractual negotiations
  • participation in events
  • visiting acquaintances
  • transit and passage

For travelers from other countries passing through Canada

If you have a visa to travel to Canada, you can enter the U.S., and in this case, the state of Hawaii, without having to apply for a U.S. visa. To enter the U.S. from Canada, you just need to possess a complete form 1-94W. This form is issued by the department of immigration authorities at official ports of citizens from VWP countries as listed above.

What to expect when you visit Hawaii

Hawaii is the only state in the U.S.A that is located outside the mainland and comprises entirely of islands. It is also the most isolated inhabited land on the planet. Its strategic location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes it have unique features that anyone traveling to these islands find amazing. Here are some of interesting things you should expect to find in Hawaii.

Hawaii’s unforgiving sun

Due to its proximity to the sun, Hawaii can get extremely hot at times. If you come from cold places or a moderately hot place, the sun here might make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, sometimes the winds that blow across the island help to make the sun and the heat more pleasant than intense. To avoid suffering from nasty sunburns and tans, you should protect yourself from the intense sun. You can carry reef-safe sunscreen that will help you prevent a breach of coral. You can also wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat to protect your eyes and forehead from severe sunburns.

The concept of time in Hawaii

If you come from a culture that has mastered the art of respecting time and believe that time is money, you need to learn to tolerate Hawaiians. The locals in Hawaii have developed a culture of relaxation, which is demonstrated almost in every aspect of their lives. For instance, expecting to meet a local at the time you have agreed, you will get disappointed for nothing. Hawaiians have no hurry, and they always take their time in everything they do.

Calm the road anger

Hawaii has the worst traffic you can find in the U.S.A. Since the locals have mastered the art of being patient and they are never in a rush for anything, honking is considered extremely rude behavior. In fact, if a local hear someone honking or being impatient behind his wheel, they automatically know that must be a visitor in a rental car.

In Hawaii, drivers take their time, and they are super courteous to cyclists and runners who share the road with them. Therefore, there is no need to be angry about the slow traffic experienced here. Maybe the best thing you can do is relax and let the island time be, and enjoy the genuine, laid-back attitude in the islands. Roll down your car window and take in the warm air, and you enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean.

The Hawaii diverse climatic condition

Hawaii is not only the biggest island with human settlement on the planet but more uniquely, it has eight of the 13 different climatic zones in the world.

When driving around Hawaii island, you have an opportunity to experience its wet climate, semi-dry, tundra, and even its monsoon climates. If you get bored by life at the beach, you can ski here.

The Mauna Kea, a volcanic mountain found on Hawaii island, sometimes its summit gets a lot of snow, enough for your snowboarders and intrepid skiers. You will hardly find chairlifts, and you have to use a 4WD to go up. The best thing is the exciting experience you will have as you ski back down by the beach.

Not everybody who lives in Hawaii is a Hawaiian

The term “Hawaiian” is commonly used to refer to those people of Hawaiian descent. These people comprise 10% of the total population of Hawaii island.

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Every other person, who was born in these islands is referred to as “local.” These people include those of Asian ancestry, people of mixed races as well as Caucasians.

Therefore, if you want to sound more respectful and avoid getting into unnecessary trouble, it is advisable to use the word “locals,” especially when you are not sure whether the people you are addressing are of Hawaiian descent or not.

English is not the only language spoken here

Hawaii has two official languages, the English language, and the Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian language has successfully been passed down from one generation to another for many years, and it is still spoken even today in Hawaii.

Learning to use ‘mahalo’ and ‘aloha” is a demonstration of being a good-mannered person. Going the extra mile and learning how to use more complicated Hawaiian phrases, it will be an indication to the local community that you are making an effort to learn their culture.

This will make the locals appreciate you more and be ready to give any assistance you might need during your stay in Hawaii.

It will also be a pleasant experience if you try to grasp something of “pidgin.” Pidgin is a slang language, which originated from sugarcane plantation farmers when English speakers, Filipino, Japanese, Cantonese, and Portuguese, together with the native Hawaiians, tried to find a common language that they use to communicate among themselves.

Though it is not an official language, it is used by many locals in their casual conversations, and you might hear some of its phrases used on local TVs and radios. Even if you find it hard to speak it, it is still better to try and understand it. It will make the locals see you as a more friendly and social person, hence making your experience in Hawaii more exciting and thrilling.

Follow the laws of Lei

Giving Hawaiian Lei is a common practice on the island. Lei, is a Hawaiian word that means a garland of flowers, and there is a wrong and a right way to give and receive this precious gift. You can be almost sure that during your visit to Hawaii, you will not leave the island before a person gives you Lei. Therefore, learning the right way to give and receive Lei is the knowledge that you might find beneficial during your visit to the island.

It is considered to be disrespectful for someone to refuse Lei. You can wear it more than once, and you don’t need to be attending a special event to ware one. Lei is usually given by the greeter, often with a kiss on each cheek. It is then placed across the shoulder and not around the neck. After using it, you don’t throw it in the bin. Lei is placed in a garden so that it can return to the earth from where it was born.

The Hawaii tradition for casual Friday

The tradition of casual Friday began as early as in the 1940s, when the employees were allowed to wear sports shirts when going for work instead of wearing suits and ties during the hottest months.

In 1960 the association of cloth manufacturers initiated a campaign to establish Aloha Friday. This campaign bore fruits when Wilson P. Cannon, a Maui boy, decided to wear aloha shirts and walk with it to his bank office where he was working as a bank manager.

Nowadays, aloha shirts are perfectly and widely accepted attire in Hawaii workplaces on Fridays, and you will hardly see any person going to the office with a suit and a tie.


From this article, you can see that there is no major hindrance that can stop you from visiting the beautiful islands of the state of Hawaii. It is indeed much easier for citizens of the U.S.A. to travel to Hawaii since it is one of the U.S. states, and there are no restrictions for an American to move from one state to another. It is also easy for other citizens to travel to Hawaii, especially those whose countries fall under the VWP scheme. If it is difficult to obtain a U.S. visa, you can still apply for a Canadian one and make your entry to Hawaii much easier. Therefore, let nothing stop you from visiting the gorgeous sceneries of Hawaii.

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