Traveling by bus (and specifically, Greyhound) carries drastically fewer hurdles than air travel. There’s no TSA to worry about, the list of things you can bring on a Greyhound is much longer, and you’ll spend much less time boarding.
At this point, you may be wondering exactly how far those relaxed restrictions go. For example, do you need ID to board a Greyhound bus?
Greyhound policy requires you to show your ID before picking up tickets from an attendant. However, Greyhound reports you can travel without an ID by buying your ticket online/over the phone, using the self-service kiosks, or using the app to present your ticket. Unaccompanied minors must sign and present an unaccompanied minor form.
Additionally, Greyhound may ask you to present your ID when boarding the bus. However, according to most riders, this is a rare occurrence! In fact, I was unable to find an example of this happening. Most people reported that they had only been asked for a confirmation number, their ticket, and a baggage tag.
If you still have questions (like I did), keep reading for a complete deep-dive into Greyhound ID requirements.
While most riders report that showing their ID wasn’t necessary for domestic travel within the United States, not all Greyhound trips are domestic. Greyhound also offers trips between the United States and Mexico/Canada.
Naturally, things become more complicated when crossing from one country to another. So, do you need to show some sort of identification when traveling on a Greyhound over the border?
Traveling on a Greyhound between the U.S. and Canada/Mexico requires the rider to bring a set of documents depending on their national status. Canadian/Mexican citizens must bring a valid password. Non-Canadian/Mexican citizens must also show their ticket back into the United States and the address they’ll be staying in Canada/Mexico.
Greyhound will almost always check for these documents before boarding the bus. Even on the off-chance that the driver would forget, the border agents will definitely check for them. Don’t try to get around this rule, as it might result in being stranded at the border!
When Your License is Expired
On two separate occasions, I’ve went through the TSA security checkpoint line to speak to an agent, only to discover that my state-issued ID had expired weeks prior. In those situations, the TSA helpfully offers a 6-month grace period where you can use the expired ID.
However, as we stated at the beginning of the article, Greyhound is not the TSA. Since the company is more lenient in other areas, does this mean that Greyhound will accept an expired identification document?
Greyhound does not accept an expired ID, paper ID, or photocopied ID. However, there are approaches to purchasing a Greyhound ticket without an ID, depending on your departure city and state.
To confirm this, I spoke to a Greyhound representative directly and they gave a comprehensive answer about expired IDs.
Valid Forms of ID
Your situation may require you to physically pick up your tickets from an attendant. If that’s the case, you may be wondering which forms of identification the Greyhound attendant will accept. As it turns out, they’re very loose with the kind of documents they accept!
While the Greyhound website makes no mention of acceptable forms of ID on their website, you should be covered if you bring one of the following:
- U.S. Drivers License / Learner’s Permit
- Permanent Resident Card
A military ID or school ID will also work for picking up Greyhound tickets but the document needs to have your picture displayed on it.
I spoke again with a Greyhound representative about this point on Facebook and this is what they said:
What Happens If You Don’t Have ID?
While the list of valid IDs Greyhound accepts is long, there’s always the chance that you won’t be in possession of any of them. If this is the case, you’re definitely wondering what happens if you don’t have an ID for a Greyhound trip.
While we briefly touched on this earlier in the article, I’ll spell it out plainly.
You won’t be able to buy a Greyhound ticket in person without an ID with your name and photograph attached to it. However, you can purchase one via will-call online or over the phone. It is unlikely to be denied access to the bus without identification, unless you are a minor without the appropriate documentation.
As you can see, lacking identification doesn’t mean the end of your trip! They aren’t checking IDs for security purposes as the TSA does. The company simply wants to guarantee that when they give a ticket, it goes to the rightful owner. As we learned earlier, they even make it easy to arrange travel without an ID at all!
Again, I confirmed with a Greyhound representative on Facebook that this is the case.
I have one other important thing to note. Be aware that “Print at Home” tickets are non-transferable. You cannot give them to anyone else after the purchase unless you set up a ticket password.
While Greyhound likely wouldn’t be checking for IDs to confirm the owner, it’s against company policy to casually give your ticket away. If the company were to discover that the tickets had been given to someone else, there may be unwelcome consequences.
With that being said, there is a way for someone to buy a ticket for someone else and have that person not need an ID.
What is the Greyhound Ticket Password?
When someone buys a ticket for someone else, one option is to set up a Greyhound ticket password instead of using an ID. This password is chosen by the purchaser, less than 8 characters, and must be given to the ticket attendant along with a confirmation number.
For more information, visit Greyhound’s help page on buying a ticket for someone else.