Military ID Cards

Updated: April 11, 2022

Table of Contents

    military ID cards

    U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Crystal A. Jenkins

    Military identification cards provide access to many services and benefits. These include Tricare health insurance, legal assistance, education benefits, use of commissaries and exchanges; restaurant and store discounts; and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. 

    The Department of Defense issues all eligible military members, dependents, spouses and civilian workers appropriate identification for access to military bases, facilities, federal lands in controlled areas, transportation, etc.

    The DOD issues two types of IDs. Active-duty service members, selected reserve, DOD civilian employees and eligible personnel receive the Common Access Card (CAC). Dependents, retired service members and members of the individual ready reserve receive the Uniformed Services ID (USID) card.

    U.S. Civil Service workers may also receive some form of federal ID, but that is not a military ID.

    How to Get a Military ID Card/Common Access Card (CAC)

    To obtain a military ID card, you must register in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). 

    Your initial entry into the system may occur at basic training or on your first assignment. You must fill out an official form and provide personal data to receive your ID card.

    The information for military service members, retirees and DOD civilians may be inputted to DEERS through automated data feeds.

    How to Get ID Cards for Dependents and Spouses

    Dependents and spouses can receive Uniformed Services ID (USID) cards. You must first enroll them in DEERS with DD Form 1172-2. Apply via RAPIDS ID Card Office Online or in person at a Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) site. In most cases, you’ll need to provide two forms of unexpired ID for services.

    Next Generation Uniformed Services ID Card

    The U.S. Department of Defense is transitioning to the Next Generation Uniformed Services ID (USID) card.

    Introduced July 31, 2020, the Next-Gen USID card updates security features to prevent counterfeiting and identity theft. DOD plans a gradual phase-in, with a January 2026 target to complete the transition.

    Those who hold ID cards under the legacy system cannot renew cards; they must upgrade to the Next-Gen USID. All current ID cards remain valid until their expiration dates.

    How to Replace a Military ID Card

    Locate the nearest RAPIDS site, go online or call 800-538-9522 or 505-335-9980  to schedule an appointment. Bring two forms of ID.

    Can You Photocopy Military Identification Cards?

    Photocopying U.S. government identification violates federal law (Title 18, U.S. Code, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 701) and is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. While it is acceptable to provide military or government ID to commercial establishments, they can not copy or duplicate it in any way.

    Types of Military ID Cards (CAC)

    Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification Card

    This is the card that active-duty service members and members of the selected reserves receive, and it includes the branch of service. Other recipients include members of the following branches of service:

    • National Guard and reserve members who have been on active duty for more than 30 days
    • Contracted Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • U.S. Public Health Services

    U.S. Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Sponsor Identification and Privilege Card

    The DOD issues these cards to civilian employees and contractors who need to access DOD computer systems or installations.

    U.S. Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Geneva Conventions Identification Card for Civilians Accompanying the Armed Forces

    Civilians and contractors who accompany the armed forces receive these cards.

    U.S. Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Dependent Identification and Privilege Card

    Civilian employees, contractors and personnel eligible for benefits and privileges receive these cards.

    Military ID Color Coding

    Common Access Cards have a color-coded bar across the person’s name. A blue bar signifies a non-U.S. citizen, and a green bar signifies contractors. Everyone else has a white bar.

    Types of Next Generation USID Cards

    Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification Card

    • Individual Ready Reserves members
    • Inactive National Guard members
    • Non-Common Access Card (CAC)-eligible civilian noncombatant personnel deployed with military operations overseas. 

    U.S. Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Sponsor Identification and Privilege Card

    • Medal of Honor recipients
    • 100% disabled veterans (DAV)
    • Former members in receipt of retired pay
    • Retired members entitled to retired pay
    • Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) members
    • Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL) members
    • Retired National Guard and reserves members 
    • Tricare Transitional Assistance Management Program  (TAMP) health care members
    • Full-time paid United Service Organizations (USO) personnel when serving outside the continental United States (OCONUS)
    • United Seaman’s Service (USS) personnel OCONUS
    • Officers and crews of Military Sea Command (MSC) vessels deployed to foreign countries
    • Select employer support of the Guard and reserve (ESGR) personnel

    U.S. Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Dependent Identification and Privilege Card

    Authorized for dependents of:

    • Active-duty service members of regular components
    • Reserve component service members on active duty for more than 30 days
    • Retirees
    • Medal of Honor recipients
    • Former members in receipt of retired pay
    • Tricare Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) health care members
    • 100% disabled veterans
    • Ship’s officers and crew members of National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) vessels
    • Reserve members not on active duty or in receipt of retired pay
    • Former members not in receipt of retired pay
    • Reserve service members who die after receipt of Notice of Eligibility (NOE)

    Surviving dependents of active-duty and retired service members, Medal of Honor recipients and other DOD policy-described benefits-eligible categories may also use this card.

    Next-Gen USID Card Color Coding

    Next Generation USID cards are color coded white or blue. White cards are for current and former uniformed service members, dependents and other remaining personnel. Blue cards are for non-U.S. citizen sponsors and their dependents.

    How Do Veterans Get Military ID Cards?

    The DOD issues Uniformed Services ID (USID) cards to facilitate benefits and entitlements. Only veterans who qualify under specific criteria (listed below) can receive these cards. 

    To qualify for military ID cards, veterans must be one of the following:

    • Retired service members
    • Entitled to receive retainer pay
    • Have a 100% disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs or be considered 100% unemployable due to a service-connected injury

    Veterans who need to prove military service to take advantage of government benefits and discounts from restaurants and stores have other options. See the following articles for more information:

    Current USID Card Types 

    The current, expiring USID cards have four colors⁠ — tan, red, blue and green⁠ — based on the recipients’ eligibility.

    Card Color: Tan
    Military ID Cards

    DD Form 1173

    • Dependents of:
      • 100% disabled veterans (DAV)
      • Active-duty service members
      • Former members in receipt of retired pay
      • Medal of Honor recipients
      • Reserve component service members on active duty for more than 30 days
      • Retirees
      • Ships’ officers and crew members of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vessels
      • Tricare Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) health care members
    • Surviving dependents of active-duty and retired military members, Medal of Honor recipients and 100% disabled veterans (DAV)
    • Accompanying family members of authorized civilian personnel overseas 
    • Eligible dependents of foreign military
    • Other benefits-eligible categories as described in DOD policy

    DD Form 2765

    • 100% disabled veterans (DAV)
    • Area executives, center directors and assistant directors of United Service Organizations (USO) when serving OCONUS
    • Former members in receipt of retired pay
    • Medal of Honor recipients
    • Officers and crews of Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessels deployed to foreign countries
    • Other benefits-eligible categories as described in DOD policy
    • Select Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) personnel
    • Tricare Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) health care member
    • United Seaman’s Service (USS) personnel serving outside the United States

    Card Color: Red

    DD Form 2 (Reserve Retired)

    • Reserves and National Guard retirees younger than 60 years old

    DD Form 1173-1 – (Guard and Reserve Family Member)

    • Dependents of:
      • Former members not in receipt of retired pay
      • Reserve members not on active duty or in receipt of retired pay
      • Reserve service members who die after receipt of NOE
    • Other benefits-eligible categories as described in DOD policy

    Card Color: Blue

    DD Form 2 (Retired)

    • Retired members entitled to retired pay
    • Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) members
    • Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL) members

    Card Color: Green

    DD Form 2 (Reserve)


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    Written by MilitaryBenefits