Veterans Designation on Drivers Licenses or State ID Cards

It can be difficult for military veterans to prove they served in the military. The only federally issued military ID cards are military retiree ID cards, the Veterans Identification Card issued by the VA for eligible veterans, and other veterans on a limited basis. Veterans who are ineligible for one of these ID cards are often left without an official ID card that proves they served in the military.

veterans designation on drivers licensesSome veterans get around this by carrying around a copy of their DD form 214, but this presents a several issues: it is not a photo ID, so many places won’t accept it, it is bulky and difficult to carry in one’s wallet, and it has the veteran’s Social Security number on it, which presents an identity theft risk if it is stolen.

Thankfully, many states are taking notice of this and are including a veterans designation on drivers licenses and state issued ID cards. Some states, such as Virginia, are issuing a separate photo ID that identifies veterans.

States that Offer a Veteran Designation on Drivers Licenses and ID Cards

We have compiled a list of states that now offer a military service or veterans designation on drivers licenses and their state issued ID cards. These cards cards can often be used for military and veterans discounts, or to prove you served in the military. However, it’s important to note that these ID cards are not official military ID cards in the sense that they will allow you to enter a military post or receive military benefits. You will need to show your DD Form 214 or other official military documents to receive military benefits.

There are currently 40 states that feature a veterans designation on drivers licenses or have legislation that permit the issuance of a separate veterans ID card at the state or county level. (Note: some of the remaining states recently passed legislation but haven’t yet begun issuing the veterans IDs).





Legislation to add a military service designation on state issued ID cards is currently pending in 10 states, and 2 states/districts currently don’t have any pending legislation to add a military service or veterans designation to drivers licenses (we are counting Puerto Rico and Washington D.C in these figures).

Status of Veterans Designations on Drivers Licenses:

We have done our best to link to the pending legislation if there is any and we will do our best to update this chart as we become aware of changes. Please feel free to contact us if you are aware of any changes to the status on any of these states.

How to Get a Veterans Designation on Your Drivers License

If you live in a state that offers the military designation on state issued drivers licenses and ID cards, then you will need to bring a copy of your DD Form 214, DD Form 215, or other discharge paperwork, along with any additional paperwork required by your state (most states require a copy of your birth certificate, social security card, passport, or some other form of identification). You should be able to find a specific list by contacting your state department of motor vehicles (DMV) by phone, or by visiting their website. Related: learn how to replace your DD Form 214 or other military records.

The military service designation is new in many states, so it may not have been available when you last renewed your drivers license or ID card. Virtually every state will require you pay a replacement fee if you want to get a new card with the veterans designation before your old license has expired. Each state has different rules and costs for this, so please contact your state DMV in advance.

If you live in one of the states that doesn’t offer a veterans designation on drivers licenses, then you will need to contact your state representative and ask them to sponsor a bill to make this happen. The good news is there is a growing trend for states to offer this feature to their veterans, and there is very little expense in making this happen. So there is really no reason why states shouldn’t offer their veterans the ability to show a state recognized proof of service.




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Date published: August 21, 2012. Last updated: November 10, 2014.

Article by

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.

Comments

  1. Mario Hernandez says:

    Hi Ryan! You should add the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that issues Veterans auto tags years ago. Sometime ago we started issuing veterans identified driving licences. Thanks for your site!
    Vietnam Vet
    100% SC

    • Dale Allen says:

      Idaho already does issue Veteran and Active Duty Armed Forces License Plates, but since anyone with a Driver’s License CAN drive the car . . .

      I wrote my Idaho Senator and both district 16 Representatives earlier today to urge them to get Idaho “on the same sheet of music”. They are all three Democrats, so I don’t know what good, if any, it will do . . .

  2. just an update Kentucky just passed the law that puts veteran on your drivers license

  3. The State of Wyoming offers auto tags with veterans (active duty and Honorable prior service), including National Guard, for a $50 fee.

    • Thanks for the info, PAJ. Many states offer license plates with a veterans designation, but not all of them provide proof on an official state ID card, which is what many veterans are looking for.

  4. Ed Panszczyk says:

    Illinois Governor Quinn signed the bill on July 5, 2012

    SPONSOR:Althoff (R)
    TITLE:Veteran Identification Cards and Driver’s Licenses
    INTRODUCED:01/24/2012
    ENACTED:07/05/2012
    DISPOSITION:Enacted
    LOCATION:Chaptered
    PUBLIC ACT:739
    SUMMARY:Amends the Identification Card Act and Vehicle Code to provide that the Secretary of State must inquire as to whether an applicant for a State identification card or driver’s license is a veteran for purposes of issuing a card or license with a veteran designation; authorizes the issuance of such cards and licenses; requires confirmation of the status of an applicant as an honorably discharged veteran before the Secretary may issue such a card or license.
    STATUS:07/05/2012Signed by GOVERNOR.
    07/05/2012Public Act No. 739 [Effective Rule]

    • Thanks for the update Ed. I looked this up on the Illinois.gov site and discovered the bill has passed, but the state won’t begin issuing these ID cards until 2015. I updated the article to reflect this news.

      • Ryan

        I called about getting a drivers license designation in TN and was told that is only for active duty personnel and not veterans. You might want to check on that. Thanks.

        tf

        • TF, I researched this again and added links to the Tennessee listing. Apparently the law has been passed, but they have not yet begun adding the veterans designation to licenses. The state DMV website lists “Fall 2012″ as the start time, but no specific date was given.

  5. Doyle L Raymer says:

    When you go to get your drivers License in most states they ask you if you want to donate an organ but they dont ask you if you are veteran and if you would like a veteran desigination. I didnt even know it existed; Iam sure there are many like me.
    All states should have veteran desigination it and facilitate its availability.

  6. Dale Allen says:

    I just sent e mails to my State Representative, and the two Representatives to hopefully start the ball rolling on this in Idaho.

    Mr Bock,
    I have noticed that there are currently only 28 States that provide for their Citizens who have previously served, or are currently serving their fellow Citizens in the Military, (Service Members/Retirees/Veterans), to be able to be identified by means of their State issued Driver’s License.
    Idaho is currently NOT one of those 28, (so far, With several having pending legislation), States!!!

    I would like to propose, (Technically, have you propose for me, to the Idaho Legislature), that Idaho become one of those States that does this, on a voluntary (as desired by those Service Members/Retirees/Veterans), basis, for those who are currently serving, and those who have been HONORABLY DISCHARGED, including those whose Discharge has been upgraded to HONORABLE, and those who have retired, from all of the Armed Services, (Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine Members who served Honorably in WWII), of the United States.

    Those Veterans desiring to be so identified, would of course, be required to produce proof (DD-214, or a copy of it), of their HONORABLE DISCHARGE, at the time of issuance, or renewal of their Idaho Driver’s License, at the point of purchase. For Service Members/Retirees; proof, (A CURRENT DD Form 2A), of their current membership in one of the Armed Forces of the United States, or their retirement from same. Or for any of the three, (S.M.’s, Retirees, or Veterans), surrender of a Driver’s license from a State that already offers this service to our Nation’s Service Members/Retirees/Veterans, or documentation that the Veteran served Honorably in the Merchant Marine of the United States in WWII.

    The official seal of the particular service, near a front corner of the license card, in a readily legible size, should suffice for this purpose, absent “copyright infringement” concerns. In the event that permission for the use of the service seal/s cannot be obtained, the use of the U.S. Colors (American Flag), and the word/s VETERAN: (SERVICE), Service Member: (SERVICE), or MILITARY RETIREE:(SERVICE), should suffice to identify those who have served.
    The service of those who have put their lives on the line for all of us should be considered “payment in full” for this to appear on the Idaho driver’s license cards of those Service Members/Retirees/Veterans who desire to be readily identifiable as such, without subjecting their official discharge documents, or ID cards to unwarranted risk of theft or undue “wear and tear”.

    I am proud to have served our Nation and State in the Idaho Army National Guard, Regular Army, and Army Reserve.
    I would very much like my next Idaho Driver’s License to display that service, just as my car’s license plates display my service to our State/Community as a Radio Amateur.

    Thank you.

    Best Regards & G’day DE:
    Dale Allen
    K7DFA

    Keep smiling, It’ll drive ‘em crazy wondering what you’ve been up to !

  7. Dale Allen says:

    I meant to say my State Senator, and the two Representatives from Idaho District 16.

  8. I live in GA and it is one of the states that has Veterans Designation on the drivers license. They only issue a license with this designation on it when you present a DS 516 issued by the VA office. I went to my VA office to obtain a DS516, and because I didn’t serve in a time of conflict, they would not issue that form. Now I am not able to obtain the Veterans Designation on my Drivers License. I didn’t want the FREE license, just the Veterans Designation. The state of GA says they don’t offer that. Is that true?

  9. William Watson says:

    I would like to know, if you have VA I.D card, could you use that to get the Veteran stamp on your driver license in Texas, if , what do we need to do.

  10. West Virginia now does the Veterans Designation on the drivers license, I believe they started in late 2012.

  11. Eric Hamiter says:

    Update for Tennessee veterans (from a Dept. of Safety rep’s email to me):

    “The veteran indicator is part of the new implementation of the five year contract that will be rolled out in phases and will be available state wide once completed.
    The driver license center locations currently you can visit for the veteran indicator are located in Dickson, Gallatin, Springfield, Franklin, Tullahoma, Murfreesboro.
    The following County Clerk Offices also have this capability: Benton County Clerk, Hamilton County Clerk, Houston County Clerk, and Lake County Clerk.

    To obtain the veteran indicator on the license, you would need to visit one of the centers above. Take in your current driver license and your DD-214. You would need to have a new photo taken and pay a duplicate fee for this transaction.”

  12. Craig Siefkas says:

    There is a huge downside to recognition, as any Sailor who has seen the sign ‘Dogs and Sailors stay off the grass’ knows. See the following story for a humorous take on the downside: http://www.duffelblog.com/2013/04/citing-mental-health-threat-minnesota-requires-veteran-designation-on-drivers-licenses/

  13. Nebraska introduced legislation in 2013 to include the word “Veteran” on the driver’s license or state ID card. LB93

  14. Wyoming will begin offering this on July 1st, 2013. It will be a red V on the upper right hand side of your DL or ID card. You will have to send a request into the Wyoming Veterans Commission prior to getting or renewing your DL or ID. They will validate your status and send a notice to the DMV so you can request it during your next DL or ID renewal.

  15. I had the same problem as Barry in Georgia. If you did not serve during a time of war you are not worthy. Is this our state government or federal government ruling? We are not asking for a free liscense although we desire that too.

  16. william says:

    Has Wisconsin started veterans status on drivers licenses yet.

  17. Lavearn Ruth says:

    What about North Carolina when will they start putting veterans status on the licenses

  18. Thomas Buckley says:

    One small correction: The V.A. recalled all the cards with member’s social security numbers on them many years ago. The new cards are better looking and have only the person’s name and photo on it.

  19. Tom Record says:

    This is from the VT DMV web site:

    Veteran designation
    Military veterans are now able to request a new credential with the distinguishing mark “VETERAN” added to the front of the card (see example below). A new Driver’s License/Identification Card application is required for this service along with verification of veteran eligibility (TA-VL-24).

    Veterans may also obtain the required forms by visiting any local Vermont DMV office or the Vermont office of Veterans Affairs.

  20. Steve Poirier says:

    The link for Michigan has changed to House Bill 4037 which indicates has passed. May 2014 is when the law comes into effect.

  21. Craig Waldron says:

    In your article: Status of Veterans Designations on Drivers Licenses:
    Utah – Drivers License Designation
    The link for Utah is wrong. Here is the correct web link:
    http://publicsafety.utah.gov/dld/vetindicator.html

  22. Mike Lucas says:

    Montana offers Veterans Designation on Drivers Licenses:

    https://doj.mt.gov/driving/forms/

    Form 21-3000

  23. ALLEN OLSON says:

    Myself and some fellow vets have noticed several states need updating on your info link: e.g. Nevada is an ERROR CODE 404.

    If you can update here and let me know, will pass this on to several vet friends and TYVM for your valuable time and good work.

  24. Ryan,

    I’m not for the Veterans Designation on Drivers Licenses issue. I live in Arkansas and I read Senator Boseman’s request that All Combat Veterans need to have it stamped on the front of your drivers license to show the Police when stopped.

    I’m a Combat Vietnam Veteran and I don’t want that info on my drivers license. I don’t want the Police with their hand on their pistol and step back away from me when I show them my license.

    • Gary, I understand your point of view completely. In this case, I think the state is misguided, as this can lead to prejudicial treatment of veterans. Virtually all other states that offer a Veterans Designation do so on a voluntary basis and do not differentiate between combat veteran status or not. The goal in other states is only to show military service, which can be a nice way to prove service. Many veterans use this for military discounts, or to otherwise prove service.

      Requiring veterans to show combat service is a breach of privacy in my opinion. Has this passed as law, or is this simply a proposal?

  25. what about if you have a general under honorable conditions discharge? I have that type of discharge and didn’t know i could get it changes till after i had passed the time deadline to get it changed. how will that effect me?

  26. North Carolina started issuing drivers licenses with veterans designations about 3 months ago. I got mine. It costs $10 to have it added.

  27. Larry Brown says:

    It looks like the information you have about the California legislation is old. SB-1355 did not pass, but AB-935 was signed by the governor in September 2014 and will take effect on Veteran’s Day 2015.

  28. Nate Shaffer says:

    Outstanding, looking forward to Veteran’s Day 2015.

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