Anyone who’s ever read a novel watched a movie or listened to a campfire story knows that you need a passport to go anywhere. Without one, you’re stuck in your home country — and probably locked in your bedroom. But if you want to visit California, do you really need a passport? Won’t any old piece of identification suffice? Get ready for some serious state-specific insider knowledge: You actually don’t need a passport to go to California as an adult. But that doesn’t mean you can just drive there whenever the notion strikes. It does mean, however, that there are certain circumstances under which it is possible — indeed advisable — to drive directly from one state to another. If you want more specifics on the subject of traveling between states, read on for details about driver’s licenses and other IDs that make it possible to cross state lines without an international travel document.
Do You Need A Passport To Go To California?
No, you don’t. A passport is generally not required for American citizens to cross the US-Canada or US-Mexico borders, but it is always recommended to have one with you in case additional documentation is required at the border. If you are traveling to Mexico by air, a passport is required for both US and Mexican citizens. If you are traveling by land or by sea to Canada or Mexico, a passport is generally not required for US citizens, but it is always recommended to have one with you in case additional documentation is required at the border.
When You Do Need A Passport To Travel Internationally?
- If you want to travel internationally by air, boat, or another non-driving method, you’ll need a passport. The only exceptions are if you’re driving between two American countries and you fall under one of the following categories:
- You’re traveling between the U.S. and Canada.
- You’re a U.S. citizen who’s traveling between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
- You’re a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who’s traveling between the U.S. and the Virgin Islands.
Where You Can Drive To From California Without A Passport?
- If you’re driving west from California, you can drive to Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona.
- If you’re driving east from California, you can drive to Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
- If you’re driving north from California, you can drive to Oregon and Idaho.
- In other words, you can drive to any state that shares a border with California — but not the other way around.
What Kind Of ID Allows You To Cross State Borders?
- All states have their own rules about what kinds of identification are acceptable when crossing state borders. But most of them have one thing in common: they prefer you to use a driver’s license. If you’re flying, you need a passport to go almost anywhere in the United States — except for California.
- And if you’re driving from one state to another via a third state, the rules can vary widely depending on where you are and where you’re going. In some cases, you might need to stop at an international border and show proof of your destination (like an airline ticket), or even your return flight (which is why it’s always smart to keep such things as boarding passes and itineraries with your ID).
- If you find yourself in a situation where you need to show proof of future destination, you can use one of the following: All of these items should be in your car at all times. But don’t forget to check their expiration dates, too. IDs and licenses are likely to expire before you reach California — and you don’t want to find yourself having to turn around.
- For the duration of your trip, you may also want to keep a copy of your car’s registration handy. This will show any police officers who pull you over that you are in fact a valid driver. Plus, it will allow you to give them a license number if you have any outstanding fines.
Why You Shouldn’t Drive From One State To Another Without ID?
1. You May Get Caught By The Police
The most obvious reason why you shouldn’t drive without an ID is that you may get caught by the police. What happens if you get pulled over and the officer notices that you don’t have your ID with you? You’re going to get a ticket and possibly have your car impounded. If you have passengers in the car with you, they’re going to be taken to the police station. We’re not saying that this is the rule and there are no exceptions, but you have to understand that if you have no ID with you, the police can’t let you go. You might be wondering what happens if you have an out-of-state ID but no license with you. Can you get away with that? Unfortunately, no. If you’re pulled over and you have an ID but no license, the police officer will likely let you go with a warning. They may ask you to go to a nearby DMV and get a valid license as soon as possible.
2. It’s Against the Law
Driving without an ID is against the law in every state. But since we’re all aware of this, shouldn’t we be safe? Unfortunately, no. This law is rarely enforced, so most people don’t really ever think about getting a ticket for this. Many states don’t even have a specific law for driving without an ID, so it’s basically just an unspoken law. And there may be times when you find yourself in a situation where you have no other choice but to drive without ID. For example, you are traveling with someone who has no ID either or you absolutely have to make it home for a family emergency. You don’t want to break the law on accident, so here’s the bottom line: if you have no ID on you and you’re caught driving, you will definitely get a ticket. And, depending on the state, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony.
3. It Can Be Dangerous
Driving without an ID is dangerous not only for you but also for everyone on the road around you. The police officers who are out on the road are the same ones who are going to be looking for unlicensed drivers. We’re not even getting into the risk of getting pulled over and then having to deal with the police officers. There are countless stories of unlicensed drivers getting pulled over and even arrested, but then being released without a single ticket. If you’re driving without an ID, not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you are also endangering other people on the road. You could also be putting yourself in a dangerous situation where someone can try and take advantage of you.
4. You Risk Having Your License Taken Away
We’ve already established that driving without an ID is against the law in every state. But if you’re caught driving without a license, you are at risk of having your license taken away. A state like Texas will issue a citation to unlicensed drivers and then revoke their license right away. Other states, like California, may issue a notice of suspension but then require you to show up in court before they actually revoke your license. If you have the intention of getting your license back, this may be a risk you are willing to take. But if you’re caught driving without an ID and you don’t have a license, there’s a good chance that you may never get one.
How To Drive From One State To Another Without ID?
- If you’ve got a clean record, you’re not driving with a suspended license and you’re not traveling to a state that requires you to show proof of your future destination, then you should be fine.
- But if you’re driving from New York to California, you may want to make a few stops along the way. Why? Because New York requires you to have a valid driver’s license for six years in order to operate a vehicle.
- And California only requires you have a valid license for five years. That’s a one-year discrepancy that might cause issues if you don’t make a stop in the middle.
- If you want to drive from one state to another without ID, you might want to tack on a few extra days — maybe even a week — to your travel itinerary. That will allow you to get a new license in New York and then a new license in California.
If you want to drive from California to Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, or Utah, carry your driver’s license (and any other identification you’re required to have). If you want to drive to Arizona, Nevada, or Utah, carry your driver’s license and any other identification you’re required to have. If you want to drive to or from any other state, carry your driver’s license (and any other identification you’re required to have). If you’re not sure what you need, call the border control office before you make your trip.