apply for a veterans id card
General Military Questions

How To Get A Veteran ID Card: 4 Ways To Apply

Are you shopping and need a veteran ID card for a military discount?

Often, retailers and other businesses like restaurants and hotels require some form of proof of military service.

As a result, presenting a veteran ID card (VIC) is usually your best option.

Here are 4 ways to apply for a new veteran ID card.

Related ArticleHow To Spot A Fake Military ID Card: 5 Things To Check

4 Ways to Get a Veteran ID Card

how to get a veterans id card

Are you seeking a new veteran ID card?

Fortunately, there are several ways to apply for a new form of military identification.

Those that are retiring or separating from the U.S. Armed Forces should have some proof of military service.

It not only verifies your time in duty but also helps secure military benefits and discounts.

In general, there are several forms of acceptable military ID, including:

  • Veteran ID Card (VIC)
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Department of Defense (DoD) Card
  • State-Issued Veteran’s Designation Driver’s License / ID

The type of military identification depends on your personal needs.

For example, some forms are only available to military retirees and provide access to military installations.

Meanwhile, others are available from state and federal agencies for anyone that has previously served in the Armed Forces.

Often, the best type of identification for receiving military discounts is a veteran ID card (VIC).

A VIC card is a digital form of a photo ID that veterans may use on discounts at restaurants, airlines, hotels, car rentals, and more.*

Here are the 4 easiest ways to apply:

*NOTE: Veteran ID cards are now fully digital as of September 2022. However, old forms of the ID card (physical copies) are still acceptable to earn discounts.

#1. Veterans Affairs (VIC) Card

veterans affairs card

How do you get a veteran ID card?

The first (and smoothest) method is to apply for a digital copy directly through Veterans Affairs.

The veteran ID card (VIC) is a digital version which avoids you having to haul your discharge papers everywhere you travel or shop.

Moreover, a digital version is safer and more secure for preventing identity theft.

In general, most retailers and businesses only require a veteran ID card to verify a military discount.

Accordingly, it’s the easiest and most practical method for confirming military service.

The VIC card is different from the Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) which is also available through the VA.

Those that have served on active duty, as a Reservist, or in the National Guard qualify for the veteran ID card.

Additionally, you must have been honorably discharged from the military (or have a “general discharge”).

Please note that a VIC card will not gain you entry to military bases and is not an acceptable form of ID when applying for military benefits.

Furthermore, you will need your discharge papers (DD Form 214) when applying for the VIC card online.

Steps to Receive Veteran ID Card (VIC)

Here are the steps necessary to apply for a VIC card online:

  1. Visit the official website of Veterans Affairs.
  2. Sign-in or create a new VA account.
  3. Complete the application.
  4. Take photo or yourself (from the shoulders up with no hat and white background).
  5. Submit the application for review and wait for updates.

You will need a copy of your social security number and current/valid government-issued ID.

Moreover, you’ll also need to reference Form DD 214 for dates of service and other relevant information.

Lastly, the image of yourself should be fairly recent since it’s the one Veterans Affairs will use for your digital ID.

In general, Veterans Affairs verifies your information and makes an eligibility decision within 1-3 weeks.

You will receive emails from the VA regarding updates on the status of your veteran ID card application.

Those that receive email requests needing more information should update through AccessVA to avoid further processing delays.

Once the application is finalized you’ll receive a final email with the digital ID attached.

Do you need help with a veteran ID card application? Contact the VA directly at [email protected].

#2. Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC)

Veterans Health Identification Card VHIC

In general, the best type of military identification to use for discounts is a VIC card.

However, in the event that you do not have one, a Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) will also do.

Traditionally, Veterans Affairs provides this identification when you apply for health benefits.

Often, the VHIC card is the best source for checking into medical appointments and dealing with Veterans Affairs.

Moreover, it can also double as proof of service for military discounts.

Before you get too far, however, you’ll need to make sure you qualify for a VHIC card because there are numerous requirements.

Steps to Receive VHIC Card

First, confirm that you are enrolled in VA health care.

If not, you’ll need to apply for military health care services before getting too far.

Secondly, once you are enrolled, it’s time for your first medical visit.

Therefore, you can apply for a new VHIC card online or at a VA medical center.

  1. Sign-in or create a new AccessVA account.
  2. Upload valid ID (driver’s license, passport, etc).
  3. Upload digital color photo of yourself that was taken in last 6 months (against white background).
  4. Submit the online application.

Otherwise, you’ll have to visit the nearest VA medical center in-person.

You’ll want to speak with an enrollment coordinator to complete the application.

Please note that you’ll also want to make sure to bring a current form of ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.) for in-person visits.

#3. Veterans Designation State-Issued Driver’s License

Veterans Designation State-Issued Driver's License is a type of veterans id card

There are several states that allow veterans to also display military service on a standard ID / driver’s license.

Accordingly, make sure to check with local guidelines and restrictions.

The state department of motor vehicles can instruct you on the necessary steps, if applicable.

In most states (including Washington, D.C.) veterans have the option of determining if they want veteran status displayed on a license.

Therefore, you must present applicable proof of military service if you would like this designation put on the ID.

In certain situations, a veteran designation on your license is acceptable proof of service for military discounts.

Those that reside in a state that offers this type of service may want to inquire about getting the additional fees waived.

For example, in certain states the fee is waived for veterans that were awarded the Purple Heart.

Nonetheless, you’ll have to renew the ID periodically (like any driver’s license) for it to remain valid.

#4. Veterans ID State Card

veterans state id card

The final option is to consider a veterans ID state card.

You may discover that your state does not offer veteran designation directly on a license yet has some alternative form of military ID.

Often, these services are available from the state department motor vehicles.

Consequently, make sure to check with your local DMV for any type of military identification unique to the state.

Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) is also transitioning into a next-gen digital card system for military verification.

Thus, in the future is may become a more acceptable form of proof of military service, as well.

Finally, multiple veterans service organizations feature their own versions of military ID cards.

For example, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion have their own type of ID cards.

And, while they are not technically government-issued IDs, they may be used in certain situations.

Discharge papers such as DD Form 214 are generally not acceptable proof of military service unless accompanied with a photo ID.


The Veterans Identification Act of 2015 was created to provide an easier way for veterans to confirm service.

Moreover, it also protects veterans and military retirees information by converting the ID from a physical to digital copy.

As a result, veterans should apply for a veteran ID card if they have not done so already.

The veteran ID card is a fantastic way to verify military service, especially for discounts at hundreds of restaurants and stores.

Rob V.
How To Get A VA ID Card

How To Get A VA ID Card

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Do you need a new veteran ID card? The VIC card is the easiest and most secure way to confirm proof of service for military discounts.
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