Update – May, 2018: The VA has begun issuing ID Cards. I applied for mine in early 2018 and received it in May, 2018. I have heard from several other veterans who have received their ID cards. The VA has stated it can take up to 60 days to receive your ID card, so please be patient with the process.
We have updated this page to provide instructions for applying for the VA ID Card. You can apply here, or scroll down for a tutorial on how to apply.
This guide will discuss the new Veterans ID Card, who is eligible to apply for the VIC, provide a tutorial to show you how to apply for the new VIC, and provide additional methods for proving your military service if you are still waiting to apply for the VIC or have not yet received it.
About the New Veterans Identification Cards (VIC)
The House and Senate unanimously passed the Veterans Identification Card Act in 2015. President Obama signed the act into law on July 20, 2015. The Veterans Identification Card Act authorized the VA to begin issuing a national Veterans Identification Card (VIC) to all veterans with an honorable discharge, something many veterans have been requesting for years.
The bill authorized the VA to issue ID cards as soon as early 2016, but the process took much more time to develop and implement. The VA was given limited guidance on how to implement the ID Cards. While this seems like a fairly simple process on the surface, there is a lot that needed to be established behind the scenes.
The VA had to establish the processes to verify military service, design an ID card, ensure they have the procedures, materials, and personnel in place. Delays pushed back the initial issue date until November 2017. Even then, unexpected issues caused multiple delays, and many veterans had to submit their email to a waiting list before being able to apply for their VIC.
Veterans ID Card – A Solution Many Veterans Have Been Seeking
Prior to this law passing, there weren’t many easy options for military veterans to prove their service. The military only issues ID cards for current servicemembers, retirees, and certain veterans with a 100% disability rating.
There are, however, several ID card options veterans can use to prove their military service. These include a VA Health Identification Card used for health care (if eligible), or a state-issued drivers license with a Veterans Designation (most, but not all states currently offer this).
Many veterans who were not eligible for the above ID cards had a difficult time proving their military service, and often carried a DD Form 214, which contains personal information that should be kept secure (such as the veteran’s SSN, birthday, etc.). Best practices for avoiding identity theft recommend leaving your SSN and other personally identifying information in a locked and secure place to avoid potential loss.
New VA Veterans ID Card – Eligibility & Purpose
Eligibility. Veterans must have an honorable discharge to be eligible for this ID Card. Learn more about how to get your discharge rating upgraded.
Veterans ID Card for Identification Use & Proof of Service Only. The new ID cards will only be valid for proving military service. The new cards cannot be used for benefits through the VA, to access military installations, or to receive other military or veterans benefits. These ID Cards will include a photo of the veteran, their name, and a non-Social Security identification number.
Do I Need the new Veteran ID card?
The Veterans ID Card is only to be used for proving your military service. It isn’t to be used for benefits or other purposes. So many military members, retirees, or other veterans may not need to apply for a VIC if they have another official ID card that proves their military service.
The VA states veterans do not need to request the VIC if you have one of the following forms of military ID, Veteran ID Cards, or other official proof of service:
- Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC), or
- Department of Defense Identification Card—either a Common Access Card (CAC) or a Uniformed Services ID Card, or
- State-issued ID with a Veteran designation (such as a driver’s license of state ID card) or a state-issued Veteran ID Card.
You don’t need a VIC if you have one of the above, but you can still apply for it if you’d like. If you don’t have one of these cards, you should request a Veteran ID Card.
The VA is Now Accepting Applications and Issuing ID Cards
The VA began accepting applications for the Veterans Identification Cards at the end of November 2017. Shortly afterward, the VA announced they were unable to process ID card requests due to the overwhelming response.
Veterans were instructed to submit their email address on a waining list to be notified when the VA would be able to resume processing applications. I received a notification in January, 2018 that the VA was again processing applications. You can apply for the ID card at the VA website.
Waiting list: Due to the high volume of requests, many veterans were instructed to place their name on a waiting list. As of January 2018, the VA is again issuing ID cards. However, there may still be a waiting list as the VA works through the backlog of applications. Keep in mind it can also take up to 60 days to receive your ID card once you submit your application and it has been approved. Please note there is a very high volume of applications and there may be delays before cards are issued.
When will I receive the Veterans ID Card? Veterans who apply for a card should receive it within 60 days and can check delivery status of their cards at vets.gov. My Veterans ID Card took almost 3 months to be issued.
How to Apply for the new VA Veterans ID Card:
The VA has announced the application process will be online at this website. Due to high traffic volumes, the VA requires veterans to add their email address to a waiting list. The VA will contact veterans when they are eligible to apply for the ID Card.
Many veterans have reported waiting several weeks before being able to apply for the VIC. I recently received the email and completed the application process. I took screenshots, which I’ll show in this article to guide you through the application process.
Applying for your Veterans ID Card:
- You will need a copy of a state or federal ID card and a photo of yourself (specifications below)
- You will need to create an account or sign in at – https://www.vets.gov/
- You will need to verify your identity
- Submit your VIC request
Applying for the VIC – Copy of Official ID Card and Photo of Self
Here are the requirements for your state or federal ID card, and a photo of yourself. The ID card is used to verify your identity against the veteran database (verified by ID.me) and the photo will be the photo used on your actual Veteran ID Card, so make sure it’s a photo you don’t mind showing everyone for years!
What You Need to Apply for the Veterans ID Card:
- A copy of a state or federal issued ID (driver’s license, state issued identification card, or Passport).
- A photo of yourself
- File size limit for each image is 3MB.
The photo of yourself must meet the following specifications (similar to a passport photo, so if you have one of those, you can use that).
- Be of the same person.
- Color photo, 2 x 2 inches in size. Sized such that the top of the head and the neck or sides of the face are not cropped (this is the typical size of a passport photo).
- Be taken within the last 6 months. It must be full front view of face with a neutral expression and both eyes open.
- Provide visibility of the face, head and shoulders without cropping any portion of the head or shoulders.
- Not contain sunglasses, hats or head coverings (unless the individual submits a letter that it is traditional religious attire).
- Have full visibility of the face with no shadows or obscured hairline.
- Not have visible headphones or wireless hands-free devices.
- Be taken on plain white paper or an off-white background.
You should be able to get an image fairly easily if you have a decent cell phone. Have someone take your photo (or take a selfie) and crop the image to size. Otherwise you can go to Costco, Wal-Mart, or some other location to get a passport photo taken.
Create or Log in to Your Vets.gov Account
Once you have your required documentation on hand, you will need to log into your vets.gov account, or create one. I had to create an account, which took about 3 minutes. Creating an account requires verifying your veteran status, which is done through ID.me, which has a contract with the VA to match your details to the various military databases.
Here are the instructions provided by the VA:
- Visit https://www.vets.gov/ and click the “Sign in” link in the upper right corner.
- Sign in with an existing account by selecting “Sign in with DS Logon” or “Sign in with ID.me”. If you don’t have an existing account, select “Create an ID.me account”.
- In the top right corner of the screen, select “Account” under your name and then select “Apply for a Veteran ID Card”
- If you do not see the “Apply for a Veteran ID Card” link in your profile, you can go directly to https://www.vets.gov/veteran-id-card to view detailed information.
Verify Your Identity
You may need to verify your identity on the vets.gov website if you do not already have a premium account, or if you signed in with your DS Logon credentials. There should be a link to click, which will verify your identity with ID.me.
This usually only takes a click on the page, then the website verifies your veteran status with the database. You may need to contact VA if you run into issues.
I was also asked to link my cell phone number for dual factor authentication, which provides two methods or verification when logging into a site. This is added security, which I’m happy to do.
Request Your VIC
After you have done these steps, you should be taken to the VIC application page. This is where you will enter your information and upload your copy of your ID card and photo of yourself. Some of the information, such as your name and address, may already be populated on the application form. Verify this is correct, then move to the next section.
Upload images of your ID card and Photo:
Make sure you have your copies as described above. The following screenshot shows where the images are uploaded. Click the “Upload ID” button (#1 on image below), and navigate to the file on your computer. Make sure you click “Upload (#2 on image below) to upload the image to the VA website. Repeat the process for your photo of yourself (step 3 & 4), then click “Preview Card.”
You should then see a preview of what your Veteran ID Card (VIC) will look like. Here is the preview of my card:
One last step: Once you preview your VA ID Card, you need to submit your application to request your VIC. Simply click the Request Card button, and your application will be submitted. You should receive a message stating your VIC application is now pending review. Here is the final button to click:
Initial estimates put the wait time around 60 days to receive your VIC. I’ll let you know if that is an accurate estimate once I receive mine.
Keep reading if you haven’t been able to access the application or if you need a more immediate proof of military service.
Other Ways Veterans Can Prove Their Service
There are several methods for proving your military service if you have not been able to obtain the new Veterans ID Card. Here are the most common methods and availability:
- Military ID Card: Current servicemembers and retirees can use their issued military ID card. Schedule an appointment through RAPIDS for a new military ID card.
- Veterans Health Identification Card: Available through the VA for eligible veterans.
- State Issued Drivers License or ID Card: Available through most states.
- VA Proof of Service Letter: Available through the VA’s eBenefits Logon Service. See instructions below.
- Veterans Organization Membership Card: Many Veterans Service Organizations give members ID cards that certify their military service.
- More methods to prove military service.
Click on the links in the section above for more information for each of these methods. See below for instructions for obtaining a VA Proof of Service Letter:
VA Proof of Service Letter Instructions
Here is an example of a VA Proof of Service Letter. Follow the guide below to generate and print your own Proof of Service Letter.
You can print a VA Proof of Service Letter from the VA eBenefits website by first logging into your account on the eBenefits site, then using the following instructions
- At the top of the page under the eBenefits logo, hover your mouse over the “Manage” tab. In the dropdown that appears below it, click on “Documents and Records.”
- In the left column on the following page, click on “VA Letters.”
- At the bottom of the following page, click on “Veteran Proof of Service.”
Step One: Documents & Records
Step Two: Access Your VA Letters
Step Three: Download Proof of Service Letter
Step Four: Clicking the Veteran Proof of Service Letter link will open a new tab or automatically download a PDF (depending on your browser settings). You can print this letter, then cut out the card. An image of my letter is copied above with my personal information redacted.
We will update this article in the future when more details become available.