Real ID

By May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age or older will need a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or identification card, enhanced driver’s license or ID, passport or passport card or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States or enter federal facilities. A standard Minnesota driver’s license will not be accepted for federal use as of that date, but it will still be valid for lawful driving privileges. We strongly encourage you to get a REAL ID compliant license or identification card.

Applying for a REAL ID Document

when applying, you must provide the following in person:

  • One document proving identity, date of birth and legal presence in the United States.
    • Your name must match on all documentation and/or a name change document must be submitted.
    • International Students will need a valid, unexpired passport issued by a foreign country and a valid, unexpired U.S. visa accompanied by a Form I-94 as documentation of the applicant’s most recent lawful admittance into the US. If the Form I-94 is endorsed “DS” then a Form I-20, Form DS-2019, or Form I-551​.
  • One document proving social security number.
    •  If you have not updated your name change with the Social Security Administration, you must do so prior to applying for a Real ID.
    • If a foreign passport is used for evidence of identity or date of birth, additional documentation demonstrating non work authorized status may be needed to verify non-eligibility for a Social Security number.
  • Two different documents proving current residency in Minnesota. 
    • Must have applicant’s name as used at print and current address in Minnesota. A P.O. (Post Office) Box will not suffice as proof of current residency in Minnesota.

Additional information about required documents for REAL ID.

Driver’s License

If you intend to drive a motor vehicle while in the U.S., you are required to have a license.  If you plan to drive while in the U.S., you should obtain a MN state driver license. Although some international students/scholars will obtain a MN State Identification Card as proof of their identity, you are still strongly advised to carry your passport, I-20/DS-2019, etc., to verify your legal status in the U.S.  

Please note if you have an International Driver License, it is not valid without your home country driver license in possession. You can temporarily use your foreign driver’s license to drive in Minnesota, but note that you are required to change to a Minnesota Driver’s License within 60 days of establishing (temporary) residency in the state.

To apply for a Minnesota driver’s license, identification card, or permit, you should view the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Web page.

Driver License Application Process

  1. Pass written test to obtain instruction permit
  2. Pass road test to obtain your license


  Class D, regular or under 21 – $25.25

  Class D, instruction permit – $14.25 (cash or check only)


To apply for a new license you need to visit the nearest Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) office:


1105 W. Division St.
Tel: 1-507-332-7985
8–4 pm, Monday and Tuesday only


2070 Cliff Road
Tel: 1-651-688-1870
8–4 pm, Monday through Friday

Although a DVS office is located in Northfield’s City Hall, 801 S. Washington St., Tel: 1-507-645-8831, you cannot apply for a new Driver License in Northfield.  Students are responsible for their own transportation when applying for a State ID or Driver’s license.

Knowledge and Road Testing

Keep in mind that there is waiting period between when you acquire your Driver Permit and your Driver License. If you are 18 and under, you have to wait for 6 months after getting your Permit before you can take the Driver License Examination and if you are 19 or older the wait time is 3 months. The information presented here may be out of date so always check with the local Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) office for latest updates.    

All applicants must pass a complete driver’s exam, which includes a written (knowledge) and road (skills) test, and a vision (eye) exam. Study the manual before hand. Call ahead to one of the DVS offices to schedule your tests. The tests are free, but if you fail them more than 2 times, you are charged testing fees. You do pay a fee for the actual license once you past the tests. 

The State of MN, besides requiring that anyone who operates a motor vehicle in MN has a valid license, also requires that either your car or the car you are driving has adequate insurance coverage. Please talk to an insurance agent or company regarding auto insurance requirements and cost.

Please remember that the U.S. uses English rather than metric measurements. You should know your height in feet and inches, e.g., 1.7 m is 5 feet 7 inches, and what your weight is in pound, e.g., 50 kg is 110 lbs, for the application.

State ID

As an International Student, you have at least two forms of picture identification: your passport and your Carleton OneCard. We recommend that you also get a Minnesota ID or a Minnesota driver’s license. The State ID can be used by non-drivers for transactions when an age check is necessary (e.g., when purchasing cigarettes and alcohol or seeing restricted movies at the cinema).

To get a Minnesota ID, bring the following:

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • I-94 Card
  • Social Security card
  • A fee of $20.25 (check or cash only)

You can obtain an ID at the locations found on the Driver and Vehicle Services Locations website, though it is strongly recommended that you obtain a Real ID State ID. so that you can continue to use the ID for domestic flights after 5/3/2023.

Notice: Your State ID will expire 1 month before you turn 21 years old. It would be beneficial to renew your State ID as soon as possible once it expires.