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REAL ID driver’s licenses ready to be issued starting next week Monday


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After many delays, the Department of Public Safety Office of Motor Vehicles will start issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses next week Monday Dec. 5, 2022.

However, only US Nationals and US Citizens are eligible for the REAL ID.

This was confirmed by Mary Putuga head of the OMV in Tafuna in response to questions from Samoa News.

She said the delay was awaiting information from the US Homeland Security whether American Samoans can still travel overseas using Certificate of Identity (CI).

Ms Putuga did not confirm the status on the CI being used for travel and referred queries to DPS Deputy Police Commissioner Terry Letuli — but repeated calls to his cell phone since last week were not answered.

She further told Samoa News there will be a demonstration of the system tomorrow while attorneys from the Attorney General’s office conduct their inspection on the system and a press release will be forthcoming after the demo.

In order to get your REAL ID, you must provide proof of identity and residency.

This proof includes the following:  Social Security card (original), a passport, or a birth certificate with a photo ID, or a Photo ID such as a voter ID, or an old driver’s license.

Other proof can be your check stub showing your Social Security number or your tax document (stamped tax returns).

Proof of residency can include accounts with ASPA or ASTCA.

In July, DPS Deputy Commissioner, Terry Letuli, told the House of Representatives (Fono) the latest deadline for the territory is May of next year.

After that time, the current American Samoa driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted for travel purposes to the US or for clearance to enter federal buildings.

He said Paramount Builders, the contractor for the REAL ID building to house the servers, computers, camera and all components for the REAL ID system expected to finish installation of a cyber secure door for the building before an inspection by federal officials in September, this year. 

According to US Secretary of Homeland Security (USDHS), Alejandro N. Mayorkas American Samoa has until May 3, 2023 to comply with the federal REAL ID Act. (The extension deadline is for all states and territories as well as Washington D.C.)

Extending the REAL ID full enforcement date by 19 months, from Oct. 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023, is due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a national news release from USDHS.

Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel, according to USDHS.

It also says that all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the REAL ID Act and related regulations are now compliant with REAL ID security standards and are issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards.

American Samoa is the only jurisdiction not in compliance but “under review”, according to federal online REAL ID Act records.


In October 2018, then Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga signed into law, legislation submitted by his Administration, amending local law by creating the American Samoa REAL ID Act, which complies with the federal REAL ID Act that has been in place for more than a decade.

The new law provides major changes to the current statute for issuing driver’s licenses, and a new provision that would allow a “driving privilege card” to be issued. It also transfers issuance of American Samoa identification cards from the Office of Vital Statistics to Public Safety Department’s Office of Motor Vehicles, through the Police Commissioner.