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Military ID Cards 101 – Eligibility and Access6 minute read • Dec. 21, 2023
The Defense Department issues identification cards to service members, their dependents and others to prove their identity and their connection to the DOD. These military ID cards are issued through Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System sites and give you access to military services and programs.
Learn about the different types of military ID cards, who is eligible and how to get one.
Get A Military ID
Visit https://www.cac.mil/ to obtain or renew Uniform Services ID cards for dependents, reservists, National Guard, former service members and others.
Military ID cards and eligibility
The Defense Department issues three main types of ID cards:
- The Common Access Card is the standard ID for active-duty service members, as well as activated reservists and National Guard, Defense Department civilian employees and some contractors. The CAC enables entry to installations and buildings and access to secured computer networks and systems. It also documents affiliation with the DOD and gives access to military services, programs and benefits.
- The Uniformed Services ID card allows other eligible members of the military community to use certain military services.
Those eligible for the Uniformed Services ID card are:
- Military family members including spouses and dependent children over 10
- Military retirees
- Inactive National Guard members
- Members on the Temporary Disability Retired List and the Permanent Disability Retired List
- Retired reserve not yet drawing military retirement pay
- 100% disabled veterans
- Former members in receipt of retired pay
- Eligible foreign military
- Transitional Health Care recipients
- Full-time paid personnel of the United Service Organizations and Red Cross when serving outside the U.S.
- United Seamen’s Service personnel when serving outside the U.S.
- Officers and crews of Military Sealift Command vessels deployed to foreign countries
- Select Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve personnel
Also eligible are authorized dependents of military retirees, reservists, National Guard, retired reservists, National Guard not yet receiving military retirement pay, Medal of Honor recipients, 100% disabled veterans and former spouses eligible for 20-20-20 benefits.
- The DOD Civilian Retiree ID card has been phased out. Retired DOD civilian employees can now use a REAL ID and a retirement document to access limited MWR facilities at the discretion of the installation commander.
Visit the DOD’s official military ID card website for more information about card types, eligibility, renewal and other services.
How to use programs and services with your military ID card
Your military ID card unlocks more than just buildings and computer systems. It lets you and your family use the military benefits for which you may be eligible. Use your military ID to:
- Enter the installation at the security gate
- Use MWR facilities like libraries, swimming pools, golf courses and more, if authorized
- Get TRICARE military health benefits, if authorized
- Shop at any commissary or exchange, if authorized
- Get discounts on vacations using American Forces Travel
Your military ID may also qualify you for discounts from non-military commercial entities such as those available through ID.ME.
How to get your military ID card
You will be issued your military ID through ID Card Office Online or in person at any Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System site. RAPIDS offices are located on military bases, at National Guard armories and at reserve training locations.
First, you must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.
Service members, retirees, DOD civilians and former members have their information fed to DEERS through automated data feeds. Dependents and others will need to complete a DD Form 1172-2 with their military sponsor and visits a RAPIDS site with two forms of acceptable ID and proper documentation for final verification and processing.
Use this RAPIDS Site Locator to find a location near you to make an appointment.
How to renew or change or replace your military ID card
If your status changes in some way — you leave active duty, for example, or your card expires in the next 90 days — you’ll need to have your ID reissued. How you renew or change your ID is similar to how you first got it, but with two changes:
- Your current, unexpired CAC or Uniformed Services ID card counts as one of the two forms of identification you need to provide.
- You can apply to the Defense Department to renew or replace your military ID online using the ID Card Office Online.
If you lose your ID, you can apply for a new one at a RAPIDS site or through the ID Card Office Online. Service members should also report missing CACs to their chain of command.
To renew, change or replace your ID card, your profile in DEERS will need to be up to date. You can check or change your DEERS information online at MilConnect. Check out this pre-arrival checklist to learn more about renewing your military ID.
To learn more about getting, renewing, changing or replacing a military ID, see How to Get or Renew a Military Card: for Service Members; or How to Get or Renew a Military Card: for Spouses, Dependents, Veterans and Retirees.
How to keep your military ID card safe
If you live or work on an installation, you may find yourself pulling out your military ID card several times a day. Make sure you put your card back into a wallet or badge holder — not into a back pocket or thrown on the dashboard of your car.
If you don’t live near an installation and only use military facilities a couple of times a year, then you may want to keep your military ID in a safe place at home instead of in your wallet. Store it with other important papers, like passports and Social Security cards.
If a local business offers a military discount with proof of affiliation, you may show your military ID card to the cashier, but for security reasons, never let a cashier photocopy your ID or take it from you.
Your ID is an important part of your military life. Keep it updated, safe and ready to use. And remember: If you ever have a question about military life, Military OneSource is here to back you up.
MilTax eligibility verification services may be unavailable due to DEERS maintenance beginning on March 2 at 6 p.m. PT until 6 a.m. PT March 3.Learn more about MilTax