Imagine having to pay thousands of dollars just to get a card with your social insurance number.

That's what some northerners say will be the result of recent federal changes to the application process.

Ottawa recently altered the rules for first-time card applicants so that they can no longer apply for the card by mail.

Everyone has to show up in person at a Service Canada office, but only three of Nunavut's 28 communities have such offices. That means people in Grise Fiord must travel to Iqaluit to get the card — a $6,600 airfare and a week's journey.

Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak has protested to the federal government.

She says the problem is common to all Canada's remote, fly-in communities, not just those in the North.