Real ID enforcement in 2023


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended to May 2023 the deadline to fully enforce Real IDs for domestic travel in the continental United States, the CNMI, and Guam.

That means all U.S. citizen and qualified alien air travelers going to the U.S. mainland, Guam, or the CNMI will have more than two years to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license in order to be able to travel domestically.

According to the U.S Transpiration Security Administration’s website, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline from Oct. 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023.

As such, beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States.

According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the United States and its territories’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards since most licensing agencies have been operating at limited capacity.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority. As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card,” he said.

As one of the United States’ territories, the CNMI must also be Real ID-compliant by May 2023.

By 2023, Customs and Borders Protection will only be accepting driver’s licenses or Identification cards that are Real ID compliant, even for inter-island travel.

However, travelers without a Real ID must have an alternate form of government-issued photo ID including a U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST), U.S. Department of Defense ID, permanent resident card, border crossing card, State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License, Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID, or HSPD-12 PIV card.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Real IDs are only for U.S. citizens and qualified aliens, not for foreign workers. The Department of Public Safety Bureau of Motor Vehicles officially started issuing Real IDs back in 2020.

Real ID cards are marked with a star at the top of the card.

Currently, the fee to transfer from a typical CNMI driver’s license to a Real ID-compliant driver’s license is $50. Individuals are required to bring a valid passport, original social security card or 1040 tax form, permanent resident card, and a proof of residence with your name and mailing address. For those who are Federated States of Micronesia citizens, instead of a 1040 tax form, a I-94 form is accepted.

Proof of residence includes a utility bill from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., IT&E/Docomo phone bill, Medicaid card, food stamp card, bank statements, credit card statement, car registration and insurance, pay stub showing your employer’s name and address, house/apartment rental agreement, or postmark mail.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at
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