Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19

Hands passing ID card

Current as of Sept. 16, 2020


Department of Defense Commitment

The DOD is committed to protecting the nation’s security as well as your safety and that of your family. This includes temporarily updating issuance and renewal processes for ID cards and CACs to ensure your continued access to health care and other benefits during this time of increased precaution and restrictions.

Your military benefits, like access to commissaries and exchanges and health care, tie into your military identification card. With current stay-at-home orders in place in most areas because of coronavirus disease 2019, you may be wondering how military ID, Common Access Card and Volunteer Logical Access Credentials issuance and renewal will work.

Review the following details to learn about the temporary updates (in place through June 30, 2021) that change issuance and renewal processes during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewing military ID cards (expiring on or after Jan. 1, 2020)

The DOD has expanded online ID card renewals and reissuances, enrollment and eligibility updates, and replacement of lost or stolen cards for military and their family members through June 30, 2021. Other updates continuing through June 30, 2021, include:

  • Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance or schedule an appointment to renew your ID card or get a replacement if it is lost or stolen. Note that cards that are remotely issued from online application will have an expiration date of one year from the date of issuance.
  • Use your ID card if you are a mobilized reserve member, so you can continue to receive active-duty benefits for yourself and your eligible family members.
  • Use your ID card if your eligibility has not changed, and your ID is due to expire on or after Jan. 1, 2020. Your benefits are secure through June 30, 2021.
  • Do not use your ID card if your eligibility has ended. The DOD will verify your eligibility electronically before taking away an expired ID card with an expiration date on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

If your status is listed in the Individuals column of the following chart, you are eligible to continue using your current military ID while you take the step(s) noted to renew your ID card that is set to expire on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

Individuals Impact to Benefits Steps to Take
Sponsors and dependents turning age 65 You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B for continued benefits.
  1. Check milConnect to see whether Medicare Part B has been reported.
  2. Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment in Medicare Part B
Dependents turning age 21 You must be enrolled as a full-time student, be approved as an incapacitated dependent or be registered for TRICARE Young Adult for continued eligibility.
  1. Students, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment as a full-time student
  2. Incapacitated dependents, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Medical Sufficiency Statement
    3. Financial Dependency Determination
  3. TRICARE Young Adult, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Proof of enrollment in TRICARE Young Adult
Guard and reserve members and dependents Benefits for National Guard and reserve members and their dependents are tied to the member’s active-duty status. If the member’s active-duty status is extended, benefits are extended as well.
  1. If active-duty status is extended, no action is needed.
  2. If active-duty status is completed:
    1. Must enroll in TRICARE Select online.
Retiring service members and dependents Benefits for members who are retiring and their dependents are tied to the member’s status.
  1. Must enroll in TRICARE Select online.

Marriage and Couples

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Husband and wife hugging

Building a Healthy Marriage – This webinar will teach you how to create and maintain a healthy marriage.

Challenges Faced by Dual Military Couples – This webinar will discuss the unique challenges that dual military couples face, and how to build positive skills to meet those challenges.

Healthy Relationship Skills for Singles – This webinar will discuss how singles can clarify what they are looking for in a relationship and how they can become aware of their own pitfalls in choosing a partner. It will identify components of a healthy relationship and discuss how singles can identify signs to determine if they are ready for a long term relationship.

Principles for Healthy Relationships and Marriages – This webinar will discuss components of healthy relationships and marriages and provide useful tools to creating and maintaining them.

Recovering From Divorce – This webinar will discuss how to recover well after a divorce. This will include discussion on the stages of grief/loss and physical reactions that may manifest as part of the overall reaction to change. We will discuss positive coping strategies and impact of divorce on children.

Rights and Benefits of Divorced Spouses in the Military

Couple in mediation

Ease the time, expense and emotional strain of divorce by learning about unique legal issues due to military service. Here are some items to consider as you move through this process. Be sure to contact your legal assistance center for more information on your specific circumstances.

Military legal assistance

Free military legal assistance services are available through the installation legal assistance offices. In a divorce or family law matter, services may include:

  • Mediation
  • Separate legal assistance attorneys for the service member and the spouse
  • Advice on legal issues, including divorce and child custody, income taxes, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and wills
  • Notary services

Learn more about managing the divorce process »

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act applies to military service members and may affect divorce proceedings. Protections include:

  • A “stay” or postponement of a civil court or administrative proceeding if the service member proves he or she is unable to attend because of duty
  • Certain protections on default judgments for failure to respond to a lawsuit or failure to appear at trial

Learn more about the SCRA »

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that provides certain benefits to former spouses of military members. An un-remarried former spouse may receive medical, commissary, exchange and theater privileges under the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program if he or she meets the requirements of what is known as the 20/20/20 rule:

  • The former spouse was married to the military member for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce, dissolution or annulment.
  • The military member has performed at least 20 years of service that is creditable in determining eligibility for retired pay (the member does not have to be retired from active duty).
  • The former spouse was married to the member during at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service.

Former spouses may be entitled to TRICARE medical coverage if he or she meets certain requirements:

  • The service member performed at least 20 years of creditable service.
  • The marriage lasted at least 20 years.
  • The period of the marriage overlapped the period of service by at least 15 years.

Under the 20/20/15 rule, the former spouse does not have access to the military exchange, installation privileges or commissary privileges.

Effect of divorce on military benefits

You may retain your identification card and continue to receive your commissary, exchange and health care benefits until your divorce is final regardless of whether you meet the 20/20/20 rule. Here are some additional issues to consider:

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  • Installation housing — You will typically lose installation family housing within 30 days of the service member or other family members moving out due to a divorce.
  • Moving costs — The military may pay the moving expenses of the non-military spouse returning home from an overseas duty station. The divorcing parties could negotiate the cost of an in-state move as part of the settlement.
  • Health care benefits — When you lose TRICARE benefits because of divorce, you can buy up to 36 months of temporary health care coverage through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit program. Learn more through the TRICARE website. Eligible biological and adopted children of the service member may receive TRICARE benefits up to age 21 (or age 23 if enrolled in college).
  • Spousal and child support — Each military service has policies requiring service members to support family members upon separation in the absence of an agreement or court order. These policies are designed to be temporary. A commander’s authority is limited without a court order. You must send the court order to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service directing the government to pay monies for support or alimony. Learn more on the DFAS website.

Divorce overseas

A divorce filed overseas can be more complicated than if the couple files with a state.

A U.S. court may not recognize a divorce filed overseas, so it’s best to file in the United States. Military divorce laws allow service members and their spouses to file for divorce in:

  • The state where the nonmilitary spouse resides
  • The state where the service member is currently stationed
  • The state where the service member claims legal residency. This state retains the power to divide the military pension.

Some things to consider when filing for divorce while living overseas include:

  • Talk with a civilian attorney or the military legal assistance office if you own property overseas, such as a house.
  • Family members and their property can be brought home at government expense before the service member’s tour of duty ends.

Managing the Divorce Process

rack of hand outs in legal office with service member in the background

Just about any way you look at it, divorce stinks. There are emotional and confusing legal issues that need to be faced. You can ease the time, costs and heartache of a divorce by understanding what you need to consider as you go through the legal process. A good first step: contact your legal assistance office to better understand your situation. You have access to free legal assistance whether you live in the U.S. or overseas.

How military legal assistance offices can help with a military divorce

State law and local procedures govern divorce, but there are certain federal statutes and military regulations that may apply to your divorce, depending on where you file. Your installation legal assistance office can provide some of the following free services:

  • Legal assistance attorneys
  • Advice on legal issues such as divorce and child custody, income taxes, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and more.

Service members and their eligible family members also have access to legal advice at no cost through the installation legal assistance offices. However, it is important to note that a specific legal assistance attorney can only offer guidance to either the service member or the spouse, in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Depending on service branch, the other married individual can see either another attorney in the same or different location. Legal assistance attorneys do not represent clients in court.

Your rights as a service member

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act helps protect service members’ legal rights when serving on active duty. Typically, when one spouse serves divorce papers on the other partner, the latter has to respond in a certain time period. However, under the SCRA:

  • A “stay” or postponement of a civil court or administrative proceeding is extended, if the service member proves he or she is unable to attend because of duty; or
  • Certain protections on default judgments for failure to respond to a lawsuit or failure to appear at trial are granted.

Military Legal Assistance Attorneys are available to help you understand the legal implications of your divorce. A military attorney cannot represent you or your spouse in a family law court but can refer you to a non-government civilian lawyer. To find a free military legal assistance attorney on an installation near you, visit the Legal Services Locator.

Your rights as a divorced military spouse

Generally, the military views divorce as a private civil matter to be addressed by a civilian court. However, military spouses have access to military legal assistance services at no cost through installation legal assistance offices. In a divorce, a service member and dependent spouse will need separate attorneys to advise them to ensure both parties receive independent and confidential advice, and to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Communications between a client and a legal assistance attorney are private and confidential. While military legal assistance attorneys may not be able to draft specific court documents or represent members or their families in court, they can provide helpful advice on a range of legal issues including divorce and child custody, income taxes and wills.

For divorce or legal separation situations that require representation in civil court or involve contested issues such as child custody, spousal/child support or division of assets like retirement pay, you’ll want to consult with a civilian attorney. Military legal assistance offices can help with this.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that provides certain benefits to former spouses of military members. An un-remarried former spouse may receive medical, commissary, exchange and theater privileges under the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program and other benefits if he or she meets the requirements of what is known as the 20/20/20 rule:

  • The former spouse was married to the military member for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce, dissolution or annulment.
  • The military member has performed at least 20 years of service that is creditable in determining eligibility for retired pay (the member does not have to be retired from active duty).
  • The former spouse was married to the member during at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service.

What to know about divorce overseas

A divorce filed overseas can be complicated, as U.S. courts may not recognize a foreign divorce. It’s usually best to file in the United States. Divorce laws allow service members and their spouses to file for divorce in either the state where the service member is currently stationed, the state where the service member claims legal residency or the state where the non-military spouse resides. Some things to consider when filing for divorce while living overseas include:

  • Talk with a civilian attorney or the military legal assistance office if you own property overseas, such as a house.
  • Family members and their property may be brought home at government expense before the service member’s tour of duty ends.

Free financial and tax filing resources during the divorce process

If you or your spouse are considering divorce, a good first step is contacting your legal assistance office to better understand your situation.

Divorce may cause financial stress, so it’s a good idea to connect with a Military OneSource financial consultant for ways to keep your finances on track. You can also talk to a Military OneSource MilTax consultant at no charge to see how divorce may affect your taxes. Call 800-342-9647 or start a live chat to schedule an appointment with a Military OneSource consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Life Happens: Legal Assistance and Paperwork for Service Members and Families

Uniformed service member completes a legal doc

You know the drill: paperwork comes with the military. It also comes into play for legal protections — in your professional and personal life. Hassles can arise when something happens and you don’t have your paperwork in order.

At other times in life, you may need more than guidance on legal paperwork. You may need a military lawyer for advice or representation. Military OneSource can help connect you to the legal assistance you require. Call 800-342-9647.

Organize Your Life: Legal Paperwork Helps Prevent Mishaps

There are some legal documents every service member — and citizen — should have:

Last will and testament. A will lets you decide what happens to your family, property and belongings when you pass. Otherwise, the courts will decide for you, and likely impose a fee for doing so. If you have a will, consider updating it based on your family’s current needs. When writing a will, you may want to consider planning for what happens to your property – real estate, investments, social security, cash, life insurance and business interests – after your death. This is called estate planning.

Power of attorney. This document lets you name a trusted person who can act on your behalf on legal or money matters while you’re deployed or otherwise unable to. The document allows this person to bank, buy or sell property and make other transactions for you.

Living will. With a living will, you can declare ahead of time which medical treatment you want—or don’t want—if you suffer a serious injury or illness and can’t speak for yourself. It also lets you select someone to make such decisions when you can’t.

When Life Gets Messy: Know Your Legal Options

Sometimes things happen in life and you need legal help. You can contact your legal assistance office for more information on many issues, including the following.

Divorce. Normally, divorce is governed by state and local laws and procedures. But being in the military can present some additional legal issues. These can range from affecting military benefits like housing to supporting family members upon separation. Understand your rights and obligations.

Child custody and adoption. Legal assistance can be helpful in several situations involving children. Examples: Preparing a family care plan can help provide direction to the person caring for your children when you deploy. If you adopt a child in another country, be aware of the follow-on adoption legal process when you return stateside.

Other legal matters. There are a range of other issues — from reporting crimes to alcohol and drug offenses — where you’ll need legal assistance or representation. Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Locator to find the nearest legal assistance office.

You can seek assistance from military defense counsel if you’re facing administrative discharge or criminal prosecution by the military. Military defense counsel are certified judge advocates who provide independent legal representation and confidential legal advice for service members suspected of an offense or facing adverse administrative actions.

Military Legal Resources Available to You

Paralegal notarizes a legal document

When legal issues arise, service members and their families have a number of resources at their fingertips, much of it free. Legal assistance is available whether you need an expert to review a contract, help with estate planning, finalize deployment-related legal documents, or get advice on mediation for child custody. Here are some of your options.

Free legal help from the legal assistance office

Your installation’s legal assistance office can help in many situations where you may need legal advice or help completing legal documents. Active and retired service members and family members are eligible for free legal assistance advice – but not representation in court – on a range of matters, including:

  • Drafting powers of attorney
  • Drafting wills
  • Estate planning
  • Family law (such as adoption, marriage, divorce, alimony and property division)
  • Contracts and lease review
  • Notary services
  • Consumer advice (ranging from debt management and credit reporting to ID theft)
  • Tax help
  • Immigration and naturalization issues
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Service member rights and responsibilities
  • Misdemeanors and minor traffic offenses

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides service members with a range of rights and benefits, from interest rate reductions to eviction protection. Know your rights and available perks.

For document translation services, contact Military OneSource Specialty Consultations. You can get help in translating a lease during an overseas move, a birth certificate, a marriage license and other documents. Call a Military OneSource consultant at 800-342-9647 for document translation or legal matters.

Where legal assistance offices cannot help

There are other issues where legal assistance offices won’t be able to assist. They include:

  • Providing legal advice to third parties or opposing parties on the same issue
  • Claims against the government and serious criminal matters
  • Legal matters concerning your privately owned business
  • In-court representation (Although legal assistance attorneys generally do not represent clients in court, some service branches do offer the Expanded Legal Assistance Program, which allows for in-court representation in limited cases.) See below for help on finding a private civilian lawyer.

Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Locator to find the nearest legal assistance office.

Help with other legal matters: private lawyers, military defense counsel

For criminal matters or other issues not available through your installation’s legal assistance office, you’ll most likely want to consider a private civilian attorney. If you’re facing discharge or criminal prosecution by the military, you can seek assistance from military defense counsel.

Seeking non-military counsel: Services provided within a legal assistance office are free. You may also need to pay for private civilian counsel — if so, ask your legal assistance attorney if your case qualifies for pro bono representation or reduced fee representation. If not, ask about private civilian legal representation available in your community.

Seeking military defense counsel: Military defense counsel are legal offices separate from your local legal assistance office, and available to you if you are facing prosecution by the military. As a service member, you have the right to be represented at your court-martial.

Military defense counsel are certified judge advocates who provide independent legal representation and confidential legal advice for service members suspected of an offense or facing adverse administrative actions.

Military defense counsel can help you in many situations, including pretrial investigations, investigations, administrative separation proceedings, letters of reprimand, denial or revocation of a security clearance, and court-martial proceedings.

Each of the service branches has a different name for the defense counsel offices:

Find the contact information for your nearest defense counsel in your installation telephone directory. Your installation trial defense service office, defense services office or area defense counsel office may have a local website with helpful information.