Starting Oct. 1, 2021, all U.S. citizens and qualified aliens traveling domestically—within the United States and its territories—are required to present what is called a Real-ID in order to be allowed to fly.
In line with this, the Department of Public Safety, which issues CNMI driver’s licenses through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and is also the agency tasked with issuing Real-ID-compliant driver’s licenses, clarified that the Real-IDs are only for U.S. citizens and qualified aliens, not for foreign workers.
Real ID cards are marked with a star at the top of the card.
According to DPS public information officer Dre Pangelinan, 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.
As for CNMI-Only Transitiional Workers, Pangelinan said they won’t be able to avail to of Real ID-compliant driver’s license.
Pangelinan said if a person is departing Los Angeles, California to Houston, Texas, a person will be asked for a Real ID. However, if a person is departing Saipan to Los Angeles, California then only a valid passport is needed.
DPS announced last January 2020 that they are now capable of issuing driver’s licenses that comply with the mandates of the Real ID law with the help of technology company Valid.
“By implementing the Valid Real ID solution and improving physical card security, [the] CNMI is taking steps to secure the overall process of verifying the identities of its residents and issuing secure documents,” said DPS.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, the CNMI will still be able to offer driver’s licenses that are not Real ID-compliant for residents unable to meet the Real ID requirements. However, without a Real ID-compliant document, citizens cannot access U.S. federal government facilities or board a commercial flight.