How to Get a Military ID

Three Methods:Getting a Dependent ID CardApplying for a Retiree ID CardAcquiring a Veteran ID Card or Veterans Designation on Your Driver’s License

A United States military I.D. stands out from any government issued card. Not anyone in the world can get one. There are multiple types of military ID cards. In general, however, there are military ID cards for those who are in the military, those who have been in the military, and anyone with sufficient affiliation with the military. Be sure you have the right access, fill out the right forms, and get your ID in a quick and timely manner.

Method 1
Getting a Dependent ID Card

  1. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 1
    Get a sponsor. Your military member is your sponsor, and the reason you will receive some benefits. The benefits include, but are not limited to, the privilege of driving on post, use of the base/post exchange, buying groceries at the commissary, and Tricare health insurance. If you do not have a sponsor, you will not be able to get a dependent ID card.[1] The following is a list of the most common dependent recipients:
    • A lawful spouse
    • A widow
    • Children under 21-years old
    • Children between 21 and 23 who are going to college
    • Adult children unable to care for themselves[2]
  2. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 2
    Bring pertinent documents. Pretty much every form you sign while in the military, or part of a military family, is going to require multiple forms of ID. You’ll need to bring your photo ID (e.g. a driver’s license), a social security (SSN) card, and a birth certificate. For different dependents there are specific forms of ID required:[3]
    • For a spouse, the wedding license is required.
    • If a couple already has a child before marriage, the child’s birth certificate and SSN card is necessary.
    • If the military member is adopting his new spouse’s child, then the child’s adoption papers, birth certificate, and SSN card are required.
    • All these forms have to be originals. No copies are accepted.
  3. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 3
    Get enrolled in DEERS. All service-members are in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), and so are their legal dependents. It's essentially a worldwide-accessible database of names that identifies military sponsors, their families, and other applicable personnel who are eligible for benefits.[4] You can either go to your local Military Personnel Office (MILPO) or access the Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) site.
  4. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 4
    Ask your sponsor to sign a DD FORM 1172-2. They must sign the DD FORM 1172-2 (Application for identification [ID] card/DEERS enrollment) for you to obtain any benefits. For deployed military members, there are three possible substitutions:[5]
    • A DD FORM 1172-2 can be notarized and signed abroad, as long as there is a verifying official (VO) on hand.
    • A special power of attorney for IDs and DEERs, common for families experiencing separation, can be granted to a dependent of legal age.
    • The RAPIDS site can be used with an active Common Access Card (CAC) to digitally sign a document. Once the document is digitally signed, it can be accessed remotely wherever the dependant attempts to sign up for an ID card.[6]
  5. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 5
    Get your ID card. After your enrollment in DEERS has been verified, you’re almost finished. You’ll need to bring two different forms of ID to MILPO, and one of those must have your photo on it. There are two different forms left, however, that can be filled out at the MILPO:
    • DD FORM 1173 – This is the form titled United States Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card, for dependents of active duty, Reservists who are active duty for greater than 30 days, retirees and those receiving retiree pay, Medal of Honor winners, and a few other eligible dependents.
    • DD FORM 1173-1 – This form is titled the United States Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (Guard and Reserve family member). It is for dependents of Reservists, former Reservists, and Reservists who die after they become eligible. [7]

Method 2
Applying for a Retiree ID Card

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    Complete a completed DD FORM 1172-2. For retired veterans, this process should already be completed during service or during the End Term Service (ETS) out-processing. If, however, it is not completed, retirees must still fill out the form to be part of the DEERS database.[8]
  2. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 7
    Fill out the service-corresponding form. Depending on your military involvement (i.e. Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard), or the level of your service-related disability, there are two possible options for retiree ID cards. Either of these forms can be filled out beforehand, or when you arrive on site.
    • DD FORM 2 – A blue ID card is issued after filling out this form. Those who may submit this form are the following former military members:
      • Retirees who are receiving retired pay, or are entitled to retired pay
      • Former service members who are on the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)
      • Former service members who are on the Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL)[9]
    • DD FORM 2A – A red card is issued after filling out this form. The DD FORM 2A is specifically for people under the age of 60 who are retired from the Reserves or National Guard.[10]
  3. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 8
    Go to the MILPO location. Most military bases will allow someone on post with a temporary pass if they don’t have a military ID. You’ll need a valid reason to get through the gate, but if you tell them you need to get your retired ID card they’ll most likely let you through.
    • Be sure to get directions to the MILPO location and head there directly. You will only be permitted to go to the locations you’ve been authorized.
    • Your car will most likely be inspected prior to being allowed on post. Be sure to remove firearms from the vehicle beforehand.
    • Bring your proof of retirement from the military, along with the aforementioned forms.
    • Once you present all the appropriate forms, you should receive your appropriate retiree ID card.

Method 3
Acquiring a Veteran ID Card or Veterans Designation on Your Driver’s License

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    Go to the DMV. In most states there is a method by which former members of the military, who are not retired or in some other way in possession of a traditional military ID, can prove their former service.
    • In some states the local circuit court clerk may serve as an alternate location.
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    Ask about your state’s offering. Each state differs, but all states offer some way to identify those who have served honorably. There are essentially three variations offered: [11]
    • A stamp or designation may be placed on the normal driver’s license. This is typically displayed as a red “V” or with the word “Veteran” somewhere on the card.
    • In some states, a special driver’s license for veterans is available. The license is slightly different from typical licenses depending on the state.
    • Those states without driver’s license modifications provide a unique veteran’s ID card. This card is one specifically designed to identify you as a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, and is supplementary to your driver’s license.[12]
  3. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 11
    Present proof of military service. In most states, proving your service is done by presenting your DD FORM 214 (DD214), the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, which is probably the most coveted and popular form for former service members. In absence of the DD214 there are three possible alternatives:
    • Presenting the DD FORM 215, which is the Correction to DD FORM 214, has enough information to show your honorable discharge from service.
    • Showing an active duty CAC can obviously be used to display your current service.
    • Displaying your retiree military ID card can be used to get whatever designation your state offers.
  4. Image titled Get a Military ID Step 12
    Receive your Veterans ID card. Depending on state, this process could require a minimal waiting period and a small fee. Additionally, the waiting period may be extended if your state requires the VA to vet the veracity of your documentation.[13]


  • Don’t lose or tamper with your card. Depending on location, there may be several hurdles (e.g. a letter from the service-member’s commander) to getting a new one. It’s also possible you’ll forfeit your ID card privileges if abuse is found.[14]
  • Appointments can be made online for nearly all MILPO offices. Doing so is highly recommended, as the offices are often overburdened and time-consuming.


  • If you lose your ID Card, inform your Chain of Command immediately.
  • When using the RAPIDS site, there is a better chance of success if you use Internet Explorer and add it to the trusted sites in your browser.[15]

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Categories: Careers in the Military