How to Register a New Family Member in DEERS – The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Registration System

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The DEERS system is the centralized database for all military memebers and their families. You need to be enrolled in the DEERS system in order to receive military benefits.

While there are many acronyms to learn in the military, DEERS is one to know by heart. It is the core of the military benefit system – without it, you wouldn’t be able to shop at the commissary, make an appointment at the clinic, or even possibly access a military installation.

That awful noise when they scan your ID card? That means that you have to update your information in DEERS.

DEERS - Defense Enrollment Eligibility Registration System

The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Registration System (DEERS) is a centralized database of personal identification information for service members and their families.

DEERS verifies eligibility for benefits such as:

When to Update DEERS

Service members are automatically enrolled into DEERS when they join the military. Each dependent, however, must be enrolled separately by the service member. The service member can add a new family member into DEERS in person at any military ID card-issuing facility.

Service members are also expected to update DEERS with any change in the sponsor’s service status, change in contact information, or change in family status (marriage, divorce, birth, adoption, death). This means that every time you move you will need to update your DEERS information.

You have a few options for updating your information with the exception of adding a new family member or updating a Social Security number (which must be done in person):

It is essential to keep your information up to date in DEERS or you may risk losing military benefits or may even possibly be fined. This can sometimes be overlooked, especially when a child is born.

Newborn children must be entered into DEERS immediately and as a result, are often entered before a Social Security number has been issued to them. Parents must return to a military ID card-issuing facility with the child’s Social Security card or they risk being fined.

What to bring with you

To speed up the registration process, be sure to bring all the necessary documentation with you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the necessary documentation, call ahead to your nearest military ID card-issuing facility.

For registering a new family member into DEERS, sponsors must bring a completed DD Form 1172 as well as the following:

To add a spouse:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Spouse birth certificate
  • Spouse Social Security card
  • Spouse photo ID

To add a child:

  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Child’s Social Security card

*For a stepchild, the marriage certificate is also required

To add a child over 21 with full-time student status:

  • Letter from the school’s registrar office verifying enrollment

*Benefits can be extended until the child reaches the age of 23 if they are a full-time student.

To add a dependent parent:

  • DFAS letter of approval
  • Service member birth certificate
  • Service member valid photo ID
  • Parent photo ID
  • Parent Social Security card

To add a dependent ward

  • DFAS letter of approval
  • Court document placing the child in the sponsor’s home for at least one year
  • Dependent birth certificate
  • Dependent Social Security card

*All documents must be translated in English and certified.

If you have additional questions regarding the DEERS enrollment process, check out the TRICARE’s website or call your nearest military ID card-issuing facility. TRICARE has also put together a helpful fact sheet about registering in DEERS.

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About Alex Hopkin

Alex Hopkin is a candidate for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Florida State University. Her favorite area of personal finance is helping families plan for life events such as marriage, babies, and the dreaded PCS.

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  1. Katrina says

    In order to enroll my stepson in deeds, does my husband’s name have to be listed on the birth certificate. In the DoD manual, it only specifies that one parent has to be listed.

  2. evi says

    I was married for 18 years to a military served for 24 years. Is there any possibility to get my military ID back after my divorce?

  3. Melissa says

    My husband is retired military and we have recently gotten married. I’ve not received my new social security card with my name change (and have not updated my drivers license as of yet), can I use my SS card and drivers license with my maiden name, to be added to DEERS and receive a military ID card or do I have to wait for my new documentation/ID’s?

  4. Stephanie J. Ciulla says


    I was in the Air National Guard from 1984 to 1990. I was Honorably discharged. I am trying to find out if I am eligible for an ID card just to show I served. Mostly for any discounts at places of business that offer them. I show my DD214 at times, but I really do not want to carry that around.

    Please let me know if this is possible and how I can go about it. I read above and it says I need to be in the DEERS system, but when I click on that link it brings me back to Military Wallet of which I am a member.

    Thanks in advance!

    Stephanie J. Ciulla

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Stephanie, no, you would no longer be eligible for a military ID card. However, you may be eligible for a Veterans ID Card through the VA. Most states now also provide a veterans designation on driver’s licenses, so that may also be an option. That said, you must usually provide a DD Form 214 or other proof of active duty service to obtain the Veterans ID Card or get a veterans designation on your driver’s license. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  5. Jake says

    So I joined the Corps Reserves and failed a drug test and got separated with an OTH, which I’m fighting, is it possible for me to get another Military ID?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jake, not at this time. Military ID Cards are only issued to those who are currently serving and their dependents, military retirees and their dependents, and certain disabled veterans. You would need to fall under one of those categories to qualify for a military ID card.

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