The Department of Defense issues identification cards to service members, their family members and others to prove their identity and their connection to the Defense Department. These military ID cards also give you access to military services and programs.
Keep reading to learn about the different types of military ID cards, how to get or replace them and how to use them to access military programs and services.
Have other ID card questions?
Are you a military dependent, retiree, survivor or someone else who is eligible for a military ID card? See our FAQ to find out which ID you’re eligible for, how to renew and other detailed answers.
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The CAC and other types of military ID cards
The Department of Defense issues three main types of ID cards:
- The Common Access Card is the standard ID for active-duty service members, as well as Selected Reserve members, Department of Defense civilian employees and some contractors. The CAC facilitates physical entry to installations and buildings, and logical access to secured computer networks and systems. It also documents your affiliation with the Department for use of military services, programs and benefits for which you may be eligible.
- The Uniformed Services ID Card is for military family members – including military spouses and dependent children over 10 – retirees and former service members, members of the Individual Ready Reserves and inactive National Guard. Other military community members also are eligible for military benefits because of their affiliation with the Defense Department including former spouses who have not remarried, 100% disabled veterans, eligible foreign military, Transitional Health Care recipients, and other eligible populations as described in DoD policy. This ID lets you use certain military services and programs.
- The Department of Defense Civilian Retiree Card is for civilians who have retired from any Department of Defense agency.
Visit the Department of Defense’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 Morale, Welfare and Recreation 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
Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19
Learn about the temporary updates (in place through June 30, 2021) that change issuance and renewal processes.
How to get your military ID card
To get any military ID card – including the CAC, the Uniformed Services ID Card and the Civilian Retiree Card – 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.
To enroll a dependent or other eligible individual in DEERS, you will need a DD Form 1172-2. You can submit the form through the ID Card Office Online or in person at a RAPIDS site. Use this RAPIDS Site Locator to find a location near you to make an appointment.
You will need to go to a RAPIDS site with your completed DD Form 1172-2 and two forms of identification, including a state or federal government photo ID. Newly married military spouses should bring their marriage certificate. Children under 18 will need proof of relationship to their military sponsor, like a birth certificate, to get their Uniformed Services ID Card. You may require additional documentation depending on your eligibility or circumstances.
After your appointment at the RAPIDS site, you’ll get your first CAC, Uniformed Services ID Card or Civilian Retiree Card.
For more details on how to apply for your first military ID, read this pre-arrival checklist.
How to renew, 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, Uniformed Services ID Card or Civilian Retiree Card counts as one of the two forms of identification you need to provide.
- You can apply to the Department of Defense 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. And, check out this pre-arrival checklist to learn more about renewing your military ID.
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 or need a hand – whether it’s about your military ID card or any other part of military life – Military OneSource is here to back you up.