Do I Need A Passport For Puerto Rico? Why Not?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quick, name the two biggest impacts the Spanish-American War had on the United States (besides allowing you write that kick-ass essay in 7th grade that totally blew your history teacher away). First, without the war in which Teddy Roosevelt emerged as a national hero, he most likely would not have returned to politics and thus become president. Second, if you’re a U.S. citizen, there’s no need to pack your passport when you fly to Puerto Rico.

And why would that be? Don’t you remember anything from your last trip to Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands? Puerto Rico, like these other aforesaid locations, are all unincorporated organized territories of the United States, which means no passport is needed to travel to and from these locations for U.S. citizens.

(Puerto Rico, along with Guam and the Philippines, were spoils of the war and a key part of America’s burgeoning colonial expansionism. No one really knows how the U.S. Virgin Island joined this group. Rumor has it that Woodrow Wilson woke up one morning after a raging kegger with the Danish Foreign Minister to find that he had won them as part of a bet involving said keg.)

This also means that Puerto Ricans get to pay Social Security, receive federal welfare and serve in the armed forces, but they don’t get to vote in presidential elections or have to pay those pesky federal taxes. And for those keeping score, Puerto Rico both has its own Olympic team as well as its own representative that it sends to the Miss Universe pageant.

[Fort San Cristobal by noontimeone/Flickr]

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