Amtrak Identification Requirements

Learn what types of identification you might need on an Amtrak train

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••• Amtrak train. Copyright: John H Gray, Flickr, (CC by 2.0)

As a business traveler in the Northeaster, I take Amtrak a lot. It's really convenient for traveling between Boston, New York City, and Washington DC.

However, business travelers should be aware that Amtrak does require more than a ticket for a ride. It may also require some identification.

As with almost any mode of travel (except, perhaps for buses at the moment,) Amtrak requires identification for its passengers—but only for some situations.

On the last five trips I've taken on Amtrak, I have only been asked to show my identification once.

While it’s always best to be prepared to show the ticket agent or conductor your identification, but in general, most passengers on Amtrak will probably not have to do it. However, you don’t want to be denied boarding or removed from the train if you don’t have identification, especially if you have an important business meeting to attend!

Amtrak Identification Requirements

Amtrak requires valid photo identification for passengers eighteen and over for specific situations, including: picking up tickets, exchanging tickets, storing or checking baggage.

Passengers that are sixteen and seventeen may also need to provide identification if traveling alone.

Business travelers (and other passengers) may also be requested to provide a valid photo id on the trains, if asked by an Amtrak employee. Amtrak does occasionally do random ticket checks, so that passengers need to be ready to produce their tickets at any time, as well as additional identification if asked by the crew.

Valid Forms of ID for Amtrak

There are a range of valid IDs, including the standard ones such as driver’s licenses, passports, government ID, etc. Travelers can either provide one form of government-issued photo identification, such as a drivers license, or they can produce two forms of (non-photo) identification, as long as one is issued by a government.

Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • driver's licenses,
  • passports,
  • official government identification,
  • military photo identification, and
  • student identification.

Other forms of identification may be allowed as long as they fit the Amtrak requirements.

International Travel

Of course, if you are traveling between the United States and Canada on Amtrak, you will have to make sure you have the identification. Trains crossing the border are subject to inspection by American and Canadian law enforcement.

When you book international travel on Amtrak you will be required to provide information about passengers (such as country of origin) and the identification they will be using while traveling. Information provided during the reservation will be forwarded to the Immigration and Customs officials for review. While traveling, it's important to have the identification that was specified at the time of the reservation. Of course, all identification needs to be original. Copies or pictures on your phone won't cut it for immigration officials.