New Defense Department ID Cards Are Finally Compatible With TSA Security

Traveler inserts her driver’s license into a credential authentication technology unit.
A traveler inserts her driver’s license into a credential authentication technology (CAT) unit at BWI Airport. (TSA photo)

There's good news for military personnel with new Common Access Cards, as well as retirees and military family members who received the Defense Department's next-generation identification card during the past two years: The IDs now work at Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints at all U.S. airports.

For the past two years, those with the new cards have needed to produce an alternate form of identification at many airports, since the IDs' barcodes were incompatible with the TSA's scanning system.

The problem was resolved in June, according to DoD spokeswoman Lisa Lawrence.

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"DOD and TSA worked to identify the source of the problem," Lawrence told in an email Wednesday. "TSA has implemented a software update and completed the distribution to the field to correct the problem in early June 2022."

While the problem has largely been an inconvenience, since many people also travel with a driver's license, passport or other form of ID, it has become more of an imperative as a May 3, 2023, deadline approaches for everyone who flies domestically in the U.S. or visits a government facility.

As of that date, travelers and visitors will need to have a REAL ID card from their state or a DoD ID card, which is acceptable as a REAL ID.

A REAL ID meets minimum security standards for identification and production, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Defense Department updated the new IDs, known as USID, for active-duty family members, military retirees and their dependents, reservists and Medal of Honor recipients in 2020, the first upgrade to the cards since 1993.

The new USID cards look similar to Common Access Cards, but don't have a built-in chip. They do have durable lamination, full-color photos and enhanced security features, making them less likely to be misused or counterfeited.

The cards are being phased in as the older versions expire; the DoD said earlier this month that retirees and family members who hold old cards that lack an expiration date have four years to get the new version.

Any old cards with expiration dates must be replaced within 90 days of elapsing or they are subject to confiscation at installation gates.

Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Charlie Dietz said those with cards with no expiration dates may replace them "at their convenience." The DoD recommends holders go to the ID Card Office Online, find a site that issues the new cards, and book an appointment.

-- Pentagon Bureau Chief and Deputy Managing Editor Travis Tritten contributed to this report. He can be reached at

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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