Q: We are going on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska. Our last stop is in Victoria, B.C. Do we need a passport to enter or leave the ship there?

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Q: We are going on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska. Our last stop is in Victoria, B.C. Do we need a passport to enter or leave the ship there?

— Shirley Kramer, Omaha

A: New rules took effect on June 1 that require more standardized ID for crossing land/sea borders between the U.S. and Canada. In general, travelers must have a passport, passport card, an enhanced driver’s license (only available in a few states) or one of the “trusted traveler” cards for prescreened travelers. However, there are some exceptions — plus some confusion in regard to cruises.

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.)

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You can get information on the new rules, and how to obtain a passport or passport card, in a recent article of mine.

Go to www.seattletimes.com and search for: Kristin Jackson and passports.

My advice: Given the confusion over ID requirements for Seattle-Alaska cruises, go ahead and get the passport card (good for land/sea travel to Canada and Mexico, but not any international air travel). It’s cheaper than a passport, and you’d need it if you ever took a driving trip to Canada. But if you think you might take a flight anywhere out of the U.S. in the coming years, get the traditional passport, which works for all international travel.

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