How to Get or Renew a Military ID Card for Spouses and Dependents

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military member accompanied by his family, wife and children, his dependents

In the dynamic life of military families, having a military ID card is not just a symbol but a key to accessing a myriad of benefits and privileges. Whether you are a newlywed spouse or a dependent navigating the complexities of military life, understanding the intricacies of obtaining or renewing a military ID is crucial. This comprehensive guide aims to walk you through the entire process, covering eligibility criteria, and specific scenarios, and offering detailed insights for a seamless experience.

Eligibility for a Military ID Card

Understanding the eligibility criteria is the first step in the process of obtaining or renewing a military ID. The Department of Defense (DoD) has established guidelines to determine who qualifies for this essential document.


Married spouses of active-duty, reserve, or retired service members are eligible for a military ID. In the case of divorced spouses, eligibility may extend under certain conditions, such as meeting the 20/20/20 rule (20 years of marriage, 20 years of service, and 20 years of overlap).


Children, stepchildren, adopted children, and certain other dependents such as parents and parents-in-law, siblings, and certain custodial relationships of eligible service members can receive a military ID.

Age limit considerations

The age limits and considerations for dependents in the context of military benefits, including eligibility for a military ID, can vary based on specific circumstances and regulations.

  1. Age Limits for Dependent Children: Under 21 Years Old: In general, dependent children are eligible for military benefits, including a military ID, until they reach the age of 21.
  2. Under 23 Years Old (Full-Time Students): If a dependent child is a full-time student at an accredited institution, the age limit may be extended until they reach 23 years old. This extension typically applies as long as the child remains a full-time student and is dependent on the military sponsor for at least 50% of their financial support.
  3. Indefinite for Certain Dependents: Certain dependents with special needs or disabilities may remain eligible for military benefits beyond the typical age limits. This eligibility is often on a case-by-case basis and may require additional documentation.

Special Needs and Extended Eligibility:

  1. Medical and Special Needs Dependents: Dependents with medical or special needs may be eligible for extended benefits and support. The military recognizes the unique challenges faced by families with special needs, and eligibility considerations may extend beyond the typical age limits.
  2. Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP): The Exceptional Family Member Program is designed to support military families with special medical or educational needs. Enrollment in EFMP helps ensure that families are stationed at locations where necessary medical and educational resources are available.
  3. Extended Eligibility for Certain Disabilities: In some cases, dependents with certain disabilities may remain eligible for military benefits, including a military ID, beyond the usual age limits. This eligibility is often determined based on the nature and severity of the disability.

It’s important for military families with dependents who have special needs to work closely with the military medical system and relevant support services to understand the specific benefits and eligibility criteria applicable to their situation.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding age limits and special needs considerations for military dependents, individuals should contact their local military installation’s Family Support Center, Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) office, or the Military Personnel Flight (MPF). These offices can provide personalized guidance based on the individual circumstances of the military family. Additionally, military family support organizations and advocacy groups may offer valuable resources and assistance.

Surviving Spouses

Widows or widowers of military service members may be eligible for a military ID, provided they meet specific criteria outlined by the DoD.

Process for Obtaining or Renewing a Military ID Card

The process for obtaining or renewing a military ID involves several steps and may vary depending on the specific circumstances. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Before initiating the process, ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining or renewing a military ID card. Eligibility is typically based on military service, dependency status, or specific circumstances.
  2. Locate the Nearest RAPIDS Site: RAPIDS (Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System) sites are the designated locations for ID card issuance. Locate the nearest RAPIDS site by checking the Department of Defense’s RAPIDS Site Locator online or contacting your local military installation.
  3. Schedule an Appointment (if required): While some RAPIDS sites operate on a walk-in basis, others may require appointments. Check the specific requirements of the RAPIDS site you plan to visit and schedule an appointment if necessary.
  4. Gather Required Documents: Collect the necessary documents to support your application or renewal. Common documents include a valid government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport), for dependents, provide marriage certificates, birth certificates, or other relevant documentation, and the service members may need their military orders or other service-related documents.
  5. Complete DD Form 1172-2: The DD Form 1172-2, Application for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment, is a crucial document. Complete it accurately, providing all required information about the service member, dependents, and any status changes.
  6. Visit the RAPIDS Site: On the scheduled date, visit the RAPIDS site with all required documents, including completed DD Form 1172-2. Arrive a bit earlier to account for any potential wait times.
  7. ID Card Issuance or Renewal: At the RAPIDS site, the personnel will review your documents, process your application, and issue a new military ID card or renew your existing one.
  8. Biometric Data Capture: As part of the process, expect biometric data capture, which may include fingerprints and photographs. This enhances the security of the ID card.
  9. Verify Information: Before leaving the RAPIDS site, carefully verify all information on the ID card. Ensure names, ranks, and other details are accurate.

Specific Scenarios

Military life is dynamic, and certain situations may require additional considerations or documentation. Here are specific scenarios to be aware of:

Deployment or Remote Location

In the special scenario where a military service member is deployed or stationed in a remote location, obtaining or renewing a military ID for spouses and dependents may require additional documentation and considerations. The process may vary, and it’s crucial to be well-prepared to ensure a smooth experience. Here’s a guide on the required documentation for this specific scenario:

  1. Military Orders: One of the key documents needed in the case of deployment or remote location is the service member’s military orders. These orders provide official confirmation of the military member’s assignment, deployment, or stationing in a specific location. The orders typically include information about the duration of the assignment and the location.
  2. Special Power of Attorney (if applicable): In situations where the service member is unable to accompany the spouse or dependents to the ID card office due to deployment or remote assignment, a Special Power of Attorney may be required. This legal document grants someone else the authority to act on behalf of the military member for specific matters, such as obtaining or renewing a military ID.
  3. Copy of Marriage Certificate and Other Supporting Documents: As with the standard process, bring supporting documents, including a copy of the marriage certificate and any other required documentation, to establish the relationship between the military member and the dependent.

Renewal Process

The renewal process is akin to the initial application. Start the renewal process well before the expiration date to avoid any lapses in benefits. Some ID card offices allow for early renewal, so check with your local office for specific guidelines.

Lost or Stolen ID

If a military ID is lost or stolen, prompt reporting is crucial. Report the loss to the nearest military ID card office as soon as possible. They will guide you through the steps to obtain a replacement, which typically involves providing additional proof of identity.

Dependent Children Aging Out

Dependent children may age out of eligibility at a certain point. However, certain circumstances, such as pursuing higher education or having special needs, may allow for extended eligibility. Stay informed about the rules that apply to your specific situation.

In conclusion, obtaining or renewing a military ID for spouses and dependents is a pivotal aspect of military life. The privileges and benefits associated with this identification card are invaluable, ranging from healthcare access to commissary and exchange privileges. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide and staying informed about specific scenarios, military families can navigate the process with confidence. Always consult with the local ID card office or Military Personnel Flight for the most accurate and up-to-date information tailored to your circumstances. As you embark on this journey, remember that your military ID is not just a card; it’s a key to the support and resources that make military life more manageable and fulfilling.