March 24, 2023

What is DEERS

DEERS stands for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS serves as the database of information on uniformed services members, also known as sponsors, U.S.-sponsored foreign military, DoD and uniformed services civilians, other personnel as directed by the DoD, and their dependent family members.

What is a DEERS ID Card

There are three main types of ID cards that can be issued by the Department of Defense:

  1. Common Access Card

ID card issued to active duty military personnel, some Reserve members, Department of Defense civilians, and eligible contractors. Common Access Cards are not only used as a form of identification, but are also used to grant access to Department of Defense computer networks and physical access to entry-controlled installations, buildings, and areas.

  1. Uniformed Service Card

ID card issued to Individual Ready Reserves and inactive National Guard members, retirees and former service members who are eligible to receive retired pay and benefits, eligible family members of current and retired uniformed service members, and others as determined eligible by Department of Defense policy.

  1. Department of Defense Civilian Retiree Card

ID card issued to eligible civilians who have retired from any Department of Defense component or agency.

ID Cards for Dependent Children

Children under the age of 10 are eligible to receive their own ID card if one of the following situations exists:

  • The child is under the care of a temporary guardian who doesn’t live near the parent’s duty station and the Department of Defense medical facility maintaining the child’s medical records.
  • The child is an eligible family member of a dual-military couple or a single parent.
  • The child appears to be older than 10 years old, even if they are not
  • On a case-by-case basis for unique circumstances as determined by the local issuing office.

When and Why You Would Need a DEERS ID Card

  • To enter any DoD installation with controlled access
  • To take advantage of Commissary and Exchange shopping privileges
  • To prove you are eligible to use Morale, Welfare, and Recreation and other base facilities and activities such as the fitness center, library, Post Office, Arts and Crafts Center…etc.
  • To show proof of Tricare insurance at military medical treatment facilities as well as at off base medical providers

How to Get a DEERS ID Card

To get a DEERS ID card, you must visit a DEERS office in person.

Sponsor- Service Member, DoD Civilian, or Contractor

As a military member or DoD civilian or contractor, you will be enrolled in DEERS when you begin your service commitment or new job. At the same appointment, you will be issued your Common Access Card. 2 valid forms of ID are required for initial issuance.


To add a spouse to DEERS, the sponsor needs to bring the following documents for their spouse: original state certified marriage certificate, birth certificate, and social security card.


To add a child to DEERS, the sponsor must bring: the child’s birth certificate and social security card. In addition; if male sponsor is not married to child’s mother he must provide court ordered proof of paternity or copy of state file acknowledgment of paternity form and final adoption documents are required for adopted children.

The DoD has 3 categories of dependent children, all of whom are eligible for DEERS ID cards but may require different types of documentation to be entered into DEERS:

  • Legitimate Child
  • Adopted Child
  • Stepchild

Full Time College Students (Dependent Children)

All college students who wish to maintain their DEERS ID card must bring a letter from their school registrar’s office stating that they are enrolled full time in an accredited college in pursuit of an Associate Degree or higher. Dependent children who are actively enrolled in college are eligible to have their benefits extended to the age of 23.

For all dependent ID cards, the sponsor must be physically present to sign the DD Form 1172. If the sponsor is not available, the dependent must have a previously signed 1172 (within 90 days of signature) signed by their sponsor and the Verifying Official or Site Security Manager or possess a Power of Attorney.


Retired members of the Armed Services who need to renew or replace their ID card must bring 2 forms of ID as well as their DD Form 214, Retired Pay Orders, or Retirement Orders.

There are also special categories of people who are eligible for ID cards who must have their application verified by the sponsor’s branch of service:

  • Incapacitated individuals over age 21;
  • All dependent parents;
  • Illegitimate child of a male sponsor, whose paternity has not been judicially determined;
  • Illegitimate child of spouse of sponsor; and
  • Unremarried and unmarried former spouses applying for initial issuance of an ID card.

Acceptable Forms of Identification

When you go to your local DEERS office to obtain an ID card, you are required to bring 2 forms of ID. There are 2 kinds of identification that meet this requirement:

Primary ID Sources

  • US Military ID Card
  • US Military Dependent ID Card
  • US Driver’s License or State-Issued ID Card, with Photo
  • US Passport or US Passport Card
  • Foreign Passport
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form (I-551)
  • Employment Authorization Document, with Photo
  • Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Card

Secondary ID Sources

The secondary source of identification can be a form of ID from the list above, provided it is not the same type. But, the forms of ID may be used in conjunction with one of the forms from the list above.

  • US Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate w/ Official Seal – must be an original or certified copy
  • ID Card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency or entity with photograph
  • Voter’s Registration Card
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • U.S. Citizen IF Card (Form I-197)
  • Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
  • Certification of Birth Abroad or Certification of Report of Birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Temporary Resident Card (Form I-688)
  • Employment Authorization Card (Form I-688A)
  • Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
  • Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
  • Employment Authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Employment Authorization Document issued by DHS with photograph (Form I-688B)
  • Foreign ID with photograph
  • Driver’s License issued by a Canadian government entity
  • Native American Tribal document

ID Card Expiration

The earliest an ID card can be renewed before expiring is 90 days prior to expiration date for both common access card and dependent ID cards, with the following exceptions:

  • Card is damaged
  • Sponsor gets promoted
  • Significant change in appearance
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