Food Delivery On Military BasesUpdated: June 2, 2023
Can you deliver food to a military base if you drive for Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub, or other delivery services? It’s a question many delivery drivers find themselves asking whenever an order comes up with a base or post address. Additionally, those living or working on military installations may wonder if they can receive food deliveries while on base or post.
While it may seem like food delivery on military bases would be simple since delivery services are popular, that isn’t necessarily the case. Military installations prioritize security. As a result, both delivery drivers and customers need to know the rules and how various security requirements can impact delivery timelines and drop-off options.
Technically, it is possible to deliver food on most military bases if you have a military ID or are a federal or government employee with official access permissions and an approved ID for entry. However, some facilities have restrictions beyond simply needing a military ID, so even that doesn’t guarantee admission to every facility.
If you don’t have a military ID or an equivalent with clear access privileges, you will need special permission to enter the base or post on foot or by car. What that involves varies. There are no across-the-board, standardized rules for access to a military base or federal installation. The requirements can be different from one base or post to the next. Additionally, they change often based on a wide range of factors, including mission requirements, threat levels, and any number of local issues.
You will need to learn the rules of access for each individual base you need to deliver orders to when providing services to customers on bases and posts. Additionally, reviewing the rules for changes regularly is essential, as they may change without notice in response to various incidents.
How to Get Access to Military Bases or Posts for Food and Grocery Deliveries
Usually, the easiest way to get access to military bases or posts for food deliveries is to already have a military-approved CAC card or similar military-issued ID. In some cases, specific IDs for government employees that come with base or post access may also work. A base or post-issued vehicle sticker is also typically required.
With those, the delivery driver is already allowed to enter the facility. As a result, they can simply approach the gate, provide the required identification to security personnel, and make the delivery.
For those without a military-approved CAC card, military-issued ID, or accepted government employee ID, the process is more cumbersome. Additionally, what’s allowed may vary by installation.
In some cases, delivery drivers can streamline accessing a military base or post for a delivery by planning in advance. For example, Shaw Air Force Base and many other installations use a specific process to make getting through the gate as easy as possible.
First, delivery drivers need to head to the Visitor Control Center (VCC) during business hours, which are usually from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. Present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license and request a background check. For drivers without a REAL ID-compliant license, they’ll need to provide a driver’s license along with a secondary form of identification, such as a Social Security card, passport, or birth certificate.
After the background check completes, it’s valid for one year. At that time, delivery drivers can proceed through the VCC during operating hours or the main gate outside of regular business hours. Present a driver’s license and contact details for the delivery recipient. Once the recipient confirms that the delivery is expected, a pass is issued to the delivery driver to provide access for the duration of the delivery.
Some military posts and bases don’t have a procedure to give delivery drivers access to the installation. In these cases, you’ll need to head to the designated area and have the customer meet you at the location, which is described later in this article.
Navigating the Front Gate
Generally, delivery drivers need to use one of two gate options when accessing military facilities: visitor gates or main gates. The only exception involves drivers with a military ID or similar government ID that comes with access permissions, which may make using other gates possible.
At some installations, the main and visitor gates are one and the same. In others, they’re two separate entrances, so it’s wise to check in advance to see where delivery drivers without access-granting IDs need to go. In some cases, a stop at the VCC before advancing to the gate is required, though you can typically head straight to the gate personnel if the VCC isn’t open.
Once arriving at a gate, you’ll remain in the line until you reach a member of the Security Forces. They’ll ask for identification and about the reason for your visit. If you didn’t get a delivery pass from the VCC before reaching the gate, they’ll need to contact the customer to confirm the order was placed. At that point, they can provide a pass and allow you through if that’s currently permitted.
If you are denied entry, it’s not because of a decision the guards make individually but rather what their regulations require them to do. They won’t be able to bend the rules for any reason, so accept their decision and follow any directions about where you need to head.
Where Can You Bring Food Deliveries If You Can’t Get on Base or Post?
In situations where getting on a military base or post isn’t possible, arranging to meet customers outside of the gate is usually the most straightforward option. Some military installations have specific parking areas designated for delivery drivers. That gives delivery drivers and customers clear places to meet to handle the transaction, so it’s wise to use them if they’re available. Others won’t have parking lots assigned to the purpose, so additional planning is potentially necessary.
Food Delivery on Military Bases for Customers
Can You Order Food for Delivery on Military Bases?
You can order food for delivery on military bases, but the nature of the experience may vary. Delivery timelines may lengthen if the driver needs to get a pass to enter. Additionally, gate wait times can slow things down.
In some cases, it may take a significant amount of time for an order to get accepted by a driver. Often, that’s because drivers without an ID that grants them access avoid orders on military bases due to the complexity of getting into military facilities.
Where Can You Pick Up Food Deliveries If the Delivery Driver Can’t Get on Base or Post?
If a delivery driver can’t get on base or post, find a nearby meeting area to pick up your order. Choosing parking lots that are designated for deliveries is ideal. However, if your installation doesn’t have one, look for another public parking lot in the immediate vicinity that can serve as a meeting point.
Why Being Understanding Is Critical When Getting Food Delivered on Base or Post
As mentioned above, navigating the gate isn’t easy for delivery drivers who don’t have military IDs or something similar to gain entry. As a result, it’s critical to remember that delays may happen and that you might have to meet the driver at a location outside of the gate. Delivery drivers are considered third-party outsiders from a security perspective, so even if they want to deliver quickly, that isn’t always possible.
Additionally, make sure to leave appropriate feedback and tip based on the challenges involved. Don’t punish drivers for delays they can’t avoid, and compensate them for the additional effort. That helps establish a better rapport between delivery drivers and on-base personnel and families, ensuring that those services continue to support your area.
Food Delivery on Military Bases for Delivery Drivers
Can You Deliver Food on Military Bases?
The first thing to understand whether you are a customer or a delivery driver? There are NO across-the-board, standardized rules for access to a military base or federal installation with one exception (see below). The rules can and do change often based on a wide range of variables including mission requirements, threat levels, and any number of local issues.
You will need to learn the rules of access for each individual base you need to deliver or have items delivered to. And don’t assume all the differences have to do with differences in the branch of service–two Air Force bases in the same area may have radically different access rules.
What is the one set-in-stone rule for accessing a military base? If you don’t have a military ID, you will need special permission to enter the base on foot or by car unless you are a federal employee or otherwise are granted official access.
Delivery drivers and customers have multiple options for dealing with the delivery situation. The simplest option is simply for the customer to arrange to meet the driver outside the front gate of the base, collect the order and pay without the driver ever having to pass the gate.
Some bases that don’t permit access to delivery drivers may actually codify this practice by having a designated place to park to drop off deliveries or people. Others may require a bit more planning.
Drivers and customers who anticipate regular deliveries to a military base should contact the Pass and ID office, visitor center, or main gate to request information about base access for deliveries. In many cases you may find that the delivery option requires the driver to avail themselves of visitor parking at the designated gate or the main gate.
Many DoorDash drivers and others complain about the difficulty in accessing the base to make timely deliveries; it pays to know in advance of a delivery what is required whether that’s “meet me at the main gate” or another option.
Security Forces Guard The Front Gate
Some military bases–a small number comparatively speaking–don’t have any gate guards. Certain facilities may be accessible by Common Access Card or other entry control methods. In these cases only those who have the swipe cards or other means of access can physically enter the area.
But for most situations, you can expect to drive to a front gate of a military base and be met with an armed Security Forces member who is charged with making sure only authorized personnel enter the base.
For Uber Eats drivers, DoorDash or GrubHub delivery vehicles, the guards at the front gate are people you want to get to know since they will decide (in part) whether you get to enter the base or not. Security Forces are your friends, not your adversaries. And these guards have specific procedures they are required to follow to control entry.
If you are denied entry it’s not because of a decision the guards make individually, but rather what their regulations require them to do. You won’t be able to bend the rules; any gate guard who offers to help you bend the rules (rather than meeting the requirements for entry) will likely not be working the front gate very long.
How To Gain Access To A Military Base To Deliver Food, Groceries, Etc.
With the understanding that such policies vary from base to base, here are some general guidelines for delivering food on a military base.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to call the base’s Visitor Center, Welcome Center, or even the base operator (ask to be connected to the office responsible for approving commercial vehicle access to the base such as Pass and ID, Security Forces office, etc.) and ask what the procedures for commercial vehicle access to the base is currently.
Some bases will permit a delivery driver to access family housing area on base but not “working areas” such as the flightline, maintenance depots, etc. Others may have a designated delivery procedure worked out for drivers in advance. You’ll want to know what the rules for access are and under what circumstances.
Here’s an excerpt from the regulations at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia:
“All commercial vehicles and their contents will be inspected each time they enter the installation. Commercial vehicles include, but are not limited to: taxis, limousines, delivery cars/vans (such as pizza delivery or courier services)..”
These guidelines include a requirement to classify large and small commercial vehicles; depending on your classification you may only be permitted to access the base via certain gates and at certain hours.
Remember, not all bases permit such access by commercial vehicles; controlled access areas such as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) may not permit any outsider access whatsoever. Some bases have high security procedures for reasons not apparent to civilians; you simply may not be allowed to enter some bases if you don’t have military ID, orders, or some other form of authorization to be there from the government.
DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates Customers
This section applies to customers of any delivery service, and is not exclusive to the companies mentioned so far; when ordering from any of these it is crucial to remember that the customer service experience you get with a delivery to a military base will NOT be identical to those where there are no access issues.
Military customers should be mindful about tipping well, about providing APPROPRIATE feedback for the delivery drivers, etc. Complaining that your order took longer because you had to go to the front gate to collect the delivery is a lousy thing to do to your driver who is at the mercy of base regulations and forced to take longer with your order as a result.
Drivers complain frequently about the treatment they get at the front gate–sometimes out of ignorance of the procedures and how long it can take to make it to the front gate at peak entry and exit times.
But they also complain about a lack of understanding from their military customers when there are delays or other issues with delivery. On-base customers should remember that they have it easy when it comes to accessing the base because they are trusted and have ID cards.
Delivery drivers are viewed as third-party outsiders by your front gate security forces guards and must be dealt with accordingly. Cut your driver some slack and give tips and feedback accordingly.