By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity
If you’ve ever been on a Defense Department installation, you know the drill – you need to have a Common Access Card, a sponsor, or some other form of federally approved ID to get on base.
If you don’t have that access, though, it can be a little confusing and stressful. We wrote a blog about this subject before, and people are still checking it out frequently, asking questions. Since it’s been a few years, I thought it was time to update that post. I won’t reiterate its content here – you can read that by clicking above – but we do hope it answers more of your questions!
Know the Details of the REAL ID Act
The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 as a product of changes made after Sept. 11, causing Congress to tighten up the issuance process and documentation needed to access federally secured locations or transportation. Cards that are REAL ID-compliant have specific security features that prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication.
A lot of states and U.S. territories meet the REAL ID Act’s standards. Others have received extensions, some are under review, and several have been deemed noncompliant, which means those driver’s licenses and ID cards won’t get you access to DoD installations or other federal facilities.
A few states have been noncompliant for a while, while others have been deemed newly noncompliant – which means their IDs won’t be usable at DoD facility after Jan. 30, 2017. If you’re from one of those noncompliant states, you may have to use a passport instead.
Confused? I’m not surprised, so I’ll make it easy for you – click here to find out where your state stands.
If you’re from Minnesota or Washington state, you might be able to use an “enhanced” ID, if you have one. To find out if your license is “enhanced,” check the front of your ID. REAL ID-compliant cards will say “enhanced driver’s license” or “enhanced identification card.” They will also bear a small image of the American flag.
If you’ve got additional questions about the REAL ID Act, read some FAQs here.
If You Need to Get an ID Card
If you think you have a right to gain regular access to a DoD installation, you’ll likely need some sort of DoD identification card. If you’re not sure what kind you need or how to get it, check out this page to figure out which forms you need and what sort of proof of identity it’ll require.
Not sure where to get that ID once you have the forms? You can go to any RAPIDS site near you.
Questions We’ve Gotten
What is the policy for military veterans’ access to military installations?
If you’re a vet, you should be able to get an ID card by presenting DD Form 214 (your certificate of release or discharge from active duty), your retired pay orders, a notice of eligibility or your retirement orders.
I am the surviving spouse of a military retiree. My spouse ID was lost right after my spouse passed away. How do I get a new one so I can access base?
If you’re the spouse of a military retiree, you can go to any RAPIDS site and present your birth certificate and your marriage certificate.
Can someone with a military ID issued through the Army get onto an Air Force base with that same ID?
As long as you have a valid military ID or CAC card, you should be able to use it at various installations.
When someone works for the DoD, are they able to live in on-base housing?
Priority to occupy homes is given to service members assigned to the installation. However, if there is not enough demand for housing from military personnel and occupancy rates drop below a certain level, the developer can rent to other personnel using the “tenant waterfall” to choose priority.
For example, the waterfall could be: (1) other military members not assigned to the installation or unaccompanied service members; (2) federal civil service employees; (3) retired military; (4) guard and reserve military; (5) retired federal civil service employees; (6) DoD contractors/permanent employees, and then (6) the general public.
I might get work on a military base, but I’m on probation with the law. Is that a problem?
Any sort of derogatory information discovered through a background check means you will likely be denied access to the base. However, you may apply for a waiver. Your organization/government sponsor can elect to sponsor you through this process. If the waiver is granted, you will be eligible to access the installation.
Can I take my mom on Tinker Air Force Base with her using her Vermont driver’s license?
As long as you have a CAC card or any other kind of sponsoring ID card, you’re allowed to escort her onto the base in your vehicle. Since Vermont is Real ID-compliant, her Vermont driver’s license is acceptable.
Former reservist with no ID. Can I get access to the base?
It depends on which base you’re trying to access. I suggest contacting your installation’s DEERS office to see if you’re eligible for an ID. If not, they’ll be able to tell you how to proceed to get a day pass or find a sponsor.
I am recently married and we need to get me on base to fill out paperwork; however, a couple months ago I lost my photo ID and have yet to get a new one because of my last name changing. How will I be able to get on base with my husband, who is active duty in the Army?
If you’re the spouse of an active-duty service member, you can go to any RAPIDS site to get an ID. You’ll have to present your birth certificate and marriage certificate.
Hopefully this page answers any questions you might, or at least points you in the right direction. Good luck!
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