Northern Mariana Islands travel guide
About Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands consist of a chain of 14 islands nearly 89km (55 miles) in length. Volcanic in origin, they host a variety of scenery including beautiful bays, spectacular cliffs, caves and mountains.
Because of the islands' location they played a significant part in World War II, having been tussled over by the US and Japan, and the many shipwrecks around the coast bear witness to this. Diving in the clear waters is popular, both for exploring the numerous coral reefs and the the jaw-dropping wrecks on the ocean floor. It was also from here – namely the tiny island of Tinian – that the US sent B-29s to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.
There are quite stark contrasts on the island. The capital of Saipan is overly commercialised for the tastes of many, full of tourbuses and characterless modern buildings. But it is also busily adjusting to ongoing economic woes, largely linked to the near-disappearance of what was once a thriving Japanese-tourism market.
Beyond Saipan, traditional Chamorro culture endures, if not completely intact. These islands were settled by émigrés from South East Asia as long as six thousand years ago, with the islanders' ancestors are known to have built a network of giant megaliths, little of which has survived. In 2013, archaeologists theorised that the first settlers of the Marianas made the longest uninterrupted ocean-crossing voyage in the history of humanity. Archaeological evidence also points to Tinian being the first Pacific island outside Asia to have hosted settlers.
Beyond the history, both wondrous and grim, the Northern Mariana Islands enjoy white beaches, azure waters and stunning flame trees. Hiking and snorkelling count as the main leisure activities here, and both are highly rewarding. The incredible sunsets are also not to be missed.
457 sq km (176 sq miles).
55,389 (UN estimate 2016).
114.5 per sq km.
Self-governing US Commonwealth Territory (incorporated).
President Joe Biden since 2021.
Governor Ralph Torres since 2015.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the USA on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Testing arrangements vary from state to state, but there are a range of providers available and you should contact local authorities in your location for information on testing facilities. Details of testing options in your area can also be found on State Health Department websites and local health department websites.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in USA.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive while in the USA, you may be required to isolate in a private area, likely a hotel or a private residence. Isolation requirements will depend on the guidance in the state where you are residing/visiting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum isolation period of at least five full days. Any assistance for those required to quarantine will depend on the local authority. The CDC has updated guidance with recommendations for what to do if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. You should check the CDC travel planner to verify local state guidance.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in USA
Many airports in the USA have implemented safety measures designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. You should check the website of the airport you are flying into or transiting to see how these could affect you.
A number of US states no longer mandate the use of masks and face coverings while in public. However, the guidance will vary from state to state and there can often be different rules within different localities in the same state. You should consult the website of the state or city to which you are travelling. Further details are found on the USA.GOV site. Penalties for breaches of regulations will vary between each state and may sometimes vary in different areas in the same state.
Some areas require proof of vaccination in order to access local amenities. In certain localities, children 5 to 17 years may not be exempt from this requirement. Some private venues, including restaurants and concert halls, have made proof of vaccination (or a recent negative COVID-19 test result) a requirement for entry. The precise requirements may vary from venue to venue so you should check on compliancy requirements in advance.
Hotels will be operating at capacities dictated by local rules and regulations.
Public places and services
Local regulations on shops, restaurants, bars, beaches and other leisure activities may be following measures designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Some areas require proof of vaccination or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test in order to access local amenities. In certain localities, children aged 5 to 17 years may not be exempt from this requirement.
Healthcare in USA
There are restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the USA. The US Food and Drug Administration website contains further information and advice on bringing medicines into the USA. UK prescriptions are not valid in the USA. In order for a British National to obtain pharmacy drugs, you would need to have a prescription from a US provider. This can be done from attending an ‘Urgent Care’ facility, Emergency Room or a doctor’s surgery.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact a local healthcare provider. More details are available on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in the USA.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
You can also find information at:
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your property against petty crime. Don’t leave passports in rental cars, especially in the boot, as there have been a high number of thefts by gangs targeting the vehicles of those who appear to be tourists.
Violent crime, including gun crime, rarely involves tourists, but you should take care when travelling in unfamiliar areas. Avoid walking through less travelled areas alone, especially at night. You can find public advisories and information about recent incidents, such as the Sunset Park subway attack in Brooklyn, New York on 12th April 2022, on the websites of local law enforcement authorities.
Incidents of mass shooting can occur, but account for a very small percentage of homicide deaths. Read the US Department of Homeland Security website, which has published advice on what to do in such an incident.
Research your destination before travelling, be vigilant, and follow the advice of local authorities. Crime associated with the illegal drugs trade is a major issue in Mexican states bordering Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. Some foreign nationals have been among the victims of crime in the border regions, but there is no evidence to suggest they have been targeted because of their nationality.
Traffic laws vary from state to state. If you’re planning to drive in the USA, check the driving rules in the state(s) you’ll be visiting. In most states, a full UK driving licence is sufficient (provisional licences aren’t accepted). However, some states may also require an International Driving Permit (IDP), which you can get over the counter at the Post Office. The USA doesn’t issue IDPs to foreign visitors, so you’ll need to get one before you travel. If you’re hiring a vehicle, check requirements with your rental company before you travel.
Driving is on the right hand side of the road.
Check the weather conditions before embarking on a long journey, particularly in mountainous and isolated areas where there is increased likelihood of snowfall, or in dry desert areas where you may need extra water and petrol stations could be scarce. Do not sleep in your car by the roadside or in rest areas and avoid leaving any items on display in your car. Try to stay on main roads and use well-lit car parks. If you’re involved in a collision while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call 911 for the police.
Petrol stations that do not display the price of fuel usually charge considerably more than the national average for a gallon of fuel. They’re often found close to tourist destinations and airports, and notoriously near to Orlando International Airport.
In 2019 there were 36,120 road deaths in the USA (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 11 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
Before you travel, check the security measures you’re likely to face at the airport on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website. The TSA has a helpline number to help passengers with disabilities and medical conditions before they fly.
Don’t make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through US airports.
Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air. The UK Government, like other governments (including the USA and The Netherlands), prohibits its staff from using the airline while safety checks are being carried out.
Safety rules at public venues, such as theme parks and other tourist attractions, may vary from state to state.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners, crowded areas, and transportation networks. You should monitor media reports and be vigilant at all times.
The main threat comes from individuals who may have been inspired by terrorist ideology to carry out so-called ‘lone actor’ attacks targeting public events or places. Attacks could take place with little or no notice.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides public information about credible threats. Expect an increased presence of law enforcement and tight security at public places and events. This may include a heavy police presence, additional restrictions and searches on bags, and the use of screening technologies. For all current alerts within the USA and its territories, visit the DHS website.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Laws vary from state to state. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws. You must carry a passport showing that you have leave to enter or remain with you at all times.
The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people differ hugely across the country. Read our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel. You can find more detail on LGBT issues in the USA on the Human Rights Campaign website.
Under US federal law, the legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 21 years. Some states have different laws. If you are under 21 years of age, check the relevant state laws before drinking or attempting to buy alcohol.
Possession or trafficking of a controlled substance in the USA can carry a severe prison sentence and/or fine. Check with each state you are intending to visit to make sure you comply with the personal possession and consumption laws of controlled substances within those states. A list of all types of controlled substances, as listed under the Controlled Substances Act, can be found on the US Department of Justice website.
The FCDO has published information about the assistance offered by the British Embassy and Consulates to British nationals if arrested or detained in the USA.
This page has information on travelling to the USA.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in the USA set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how the USA’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
You will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need.
You should be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen on or after 1 March 2011, you are normally not eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa.
The US Embassy advise that travellers who come under the following categories should not attempt to travel on an ESTA and should instead apply for a visa: those who have been arrested (even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction); those who have a criminal record; those who have been refused admission into, or have been deported from the USA; those who have previously overstayed under an ESTA. Further details are on the US Embassy Website.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Most fully vaccinated foreign citizens can enter the USA. The US authorities will accept any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These are the AstraZeneca, BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, Janssen, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines. In addition, those who have received the full series of an active (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials are considered vaccinated. More details are on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites. British nationals planning to travel to the USA should familiarise themselves with the new requirements on the CDC website before booking any travel.
All current visa holders based in the USA who leave the country and then re-enter will need to follow the vaccine entry requirements unless they have an exception. This includes students on F-1 and M-1 visas and those previously issued with an existing National Interest Exception. Further information is on the US Embassy website.
All air passengers to the USA are also required to provide contact information to their airlines before boarding. You should check with your airline before you travel for more details. Effective from Sunday 12 June 2022 at 00:01 ET (5:01 am BST), the CDC no longer require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for USA-bound air travellers.
Upon arrival, fully vaccinated travellers:
- do not have to quarantine
- are recommended to take a viral test within 3 to 5 days of arrival in the US.
If you have recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days (regardless of vaccination status):
- you do not need to get a test 3 to 5 days after travel
If you are travelling domestically within the USA, individual states and territories may have their own quarantine requirements. A full list of local quarantine requirements is available on the CDC website. You should check the list frequently as it is likely to change, sometimes daily, as rates of COVID-19 transmission increase or decrease.
Proof of vaccination status
The USA will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record and proof of COVID-19 vaccination issued in the Crown Dependencies. Your final vaccine dose must have been administered at least 14 days prior to travel. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
The CDC website lists the forms of acceptable proof of COVID-19 status. This also includes the European Union Digital COVID Certificate. Other accepted methods of proof include a printout of a COVID-19 vaccination record or a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine provider. Alternatively, digital photos of a vaccination card or record, a downloaded vaccine record or a vaccination certificate from an official source (e.g. public health agency, government agency, or other authorised vaccine provider), or a mobile phone application without a QR code. All forms of COVID-19 status must have a personal identifier, at a minimum including full name and date of birth, that match the information on a passenger’s passport or other travel documents. It must also include the name of the official source issuing the record and the vaccine manufacturer and date(s) of vaccination.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Only those with an exception or US Citizens, US Nationals, and US Lawful Permanent Residents will be able to enter the US unvaccinated. More details are on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites, which includes a list of exceptions from the vaccination requirements for certain categories of non-citizens and non-immigrants.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
If you’re not fully vaccinated but have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last year you still cannot enter the USA unless you meet one of the exceptions detailed on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites.
Children and young people
Children 17 and under are exempt from the vaccination requirement.
For travel, the US definition of a fully vaccinated child is the same as the definition of a fully vaccinated adult. This is different to the UK. Further details are on the US Embassy website.
After arrival in the US, children 17 and under that are not fully vaccinated may be required to attest that they will take a test 3 to 5 days and will self-isolate should any symptoms develop or if they test positive. A parent or other authorized person should attest on behalf of a passenger 17 and under. More details are on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If a child (17 and under) is travelling with only one parent or someone who isn’t a parent or legal guardian, you may be asked to provide certain documents at the border. For further information, see the US Customs and Border Protection website.
US Visa appointments
Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, visa appointments at the US Embassy in London remain limited. Therefore, in making an application, you are strongly advised to plan as far ahead as possible before your date of travel. If you have an urgent need to travel, you can request an expedited interview through the US Embassy’s appointment service provider.
Further information is available on the US Embassy’s website.
If you’re transiting through USA
Those transiting through the USA will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. You must still follow the COVID requirements detailed above. All passengers must follow state and local COVID safety requirements.
Only those with an exception or US Citizens, US Nationals, and US Lawful Permanent Residents will be able to transit the US unvaccinated. More details are on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites, which includes a list of exceptions from the vaccination requirements for certain categories of non-citizens and non-immigrants.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting the USA your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
The US Customs and Border Protection programme Global Entry gets pre-approved travellers through border control faster at some US airports. If you’re a British citizen you can register to get a UK background check on GOV.UK. If you pass the background checks, you’ll be invited to apply for Global Entry.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry into the USA or transit through the USA on an ESTA. If you’re planning to enter or transit through the USA using an ETD, you must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate before you travel, which may take a number of days, or hold a valid lawful permanent resident card (often referred to as a ‘green card’), which you must have with you on arrival. UK ETDs issued in the USA are valid for exit from the USA.
Bringing medicines into the USA
There are restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the US. The USA Food and Drug Administration website contains further information and advice on bringing medicines into the USA.
Travelling to the USA from Cuba
It’s possible to travel to the USA after you’ve been to Cuba. However, you may wish to take supporting documents about the purpose of your trip to Cuba in case you’re questioned by US immigration officials at the port of entry on arrival in the USA. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you are abroad.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Medical treatment is expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Some hospitals may ask non-US residents to pay a deposit or ‘good faith’ payment on admittance. You should direct any requests for funds to your travel insurance provider in the first instance; only pay the hospital if you’re advised to do so by your travel insurance company. Your level of medical care won’t be affected while your claim is being processed.
Medical facilities in American Samoa are basic and medical evacuation by air ambulance to Hawaii, New Zealand or Australia may be necessary. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
You should take suitable steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and ticks. There are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.
UK health authorities have classified the USA as having a risk of Zika virus transmission in Florida, Texas (Cameron County and Hidalgo County only), Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website: for travel to Florida and Texas (Cameron County and Hidalgo County only) - for travel to Puerto Rico - for travel to US Virgin Islands - for travel to American Samoa - for travel to Guam.
Snow storms during winter can cause disruptions to critical infrastructure, such as power cuts, or delays and cancellations throughout the major transport hubs in the USA. Contact your travel company or airline before you travel. To monitor airport conditions in the USA, visit the Federal Aviation Administration website.
The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from June to November. The Pacific hurricane season normally runs from May to November. They can affect US coastal regions, Hawaii and Guam. The South Pacific tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to May and can affect American Samoa.
You should monitor the progress of approaching storms on the US National Hurricane Center website and follow instructions issued by the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website contains information about how to prepare for extreme weather conditions and what to do if you are told to evacuate. It also provides a list of disaster supplies that will help if you live in an area affected by storms and hurricanes.
See our tropical cyclones page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a hurricane or tropical cyclone.
Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington state and the US Virgin Islands are prone to earthquakes. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, visit the Federal Emergency Management website.
Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year depending on weather conditions. To learn more about what you should do during, and after a tornado, visit the FEMA website
Forest and brush fires (wildfires) are a danger in many dry areas. High winds can cause fires to spread very rapidly. Areas of high risk are canyons, hills and forests. Monitor local media and weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders. Exercise caution in areas which have been recently affected by wild fires as they are more susceptible to mudslides during heavy rainfall.
For more detail about wild fires in California, visit the CAL FIRE website .
There is continuous volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island. British nationals in the area should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders. For further updates see the State of Hawaii’s website. To learn more about what to do before, during and after a volcano, visit the Federal Emergency Management website.
Large numbers of British nationals travel successfully and safely in and around the Arctic each year. The Arctic is, however, a vast region, comprising the northerly areas of Alaska (USA), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. If you’re considering visiting the Arctic, read the specific travel advice for each of these countries and consider carefully the potential remoteness of certain destinations from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities. Independent travellers are particularly advised to develop contingency arrangements for emergency back-up.
The most popular way of visiting the Arctic is by ship. As some areas of the Arctic -specifically the more northerly and remote regions - can be uncharted and ice-covered, you should check the previous operational experience of cruise and other operators offering travel in the region. You should also consider the on-board medical facilities of cruise ships and talk to cruise operators as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
The eight Arctic states take their international search and rescue obligations very seriously, and have recently signed a binding agreement on search and rescue co-operation in the Arctic. However, in the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be operating in relative isolation from other vessels and/or inhabited areas. You should be aware that in these regions, search and rescue response will often need to be despatched from many hundreds of miles away, and assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather. Search and rescue assets are also likely to offer only basic transport and basic medical care, and are unlikely to be capable of advanced life-support. Responsible cruise operators should happily provide additional information relevant to the circumstances of the cruise they are offering, and address any concerns you may have.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.