Trying to get a base visitor's pass? If you're using a Washington State, Minnesota, Illinois, New Mexico or Missouri driver's license or state ID card alone as your identification, you're out of luck. According to Defense Department officials, those licenses will soon no longer be accepted as proof of ID -- and in some places they are already being rejected.
So what's going on? We've got the low-down.
Who does this impact?Anyone who wants to get a visitor's or contractor's pass and would normally present an ID from one of those states is impacted. That includes service members and military spouses who are getting a pass because they've misplaced their ID. (Let's be honest -- it happens). For example I, Amy, have a Washington State driver's license. If I was to misplace my ID and try get a visitor's pass so that I could go the ID office or anywhere else, I would not be able to use my driver's license as my only form of ID. I would either have to drum up a friend with a military ID to bring me on base, or I would have to present a different, acceptable form of ID.
What does this mean?If you want to get a visitor's pass (or plan to have someone visiting you get one) or contractor's pass, and have a card from one of those states, you're going to need to present a different form of ID. If you're simply renewing a pass you already have -- same story.
What if they aren't getting a pass and just riding in the car with a DoD ID card holder?The only time those licenses aren't accepted is when getting a pass. If they are in the car with a DoD ID card holder (like a spouse ID, a CAC card, Reserve ID, etc.), the gate guard should still accept them, officials told me.
Why is this happening?A 2005 law required states to step-up their state-issued ID security game, for example making IDs less prone to fraud and giving them a readable chip or magnetic stripe. Some states complied right away. Others, not so much. A handful of states, including California, have been granted extensions as they work to get their rears in gear. And then there's Washington, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and New Mexico -- no extensions and now up the proverbial creek.
(This is a sad day for me, by the way. My Washington State driver's license has "military" printed on it instead of an expiration date, meaning as long as I hold a valid military ID, it never expires and I never have to renew it. I'm locked in time in that photo at 25-years-old. It wasn't the best hair day, but if you can be 25, who cares? I just don't want to give it up. ... ever.)
My base hasn't said a word about this. How do I know it's true here?Right now Pentagon officials have told me that this new rule is going to impact every base -- yet we have seen only a few bases actually issue guidance about it. That means we don't know what the roll-out will be like everywhere. For example, Joint Base Lewis-McChord officials told me they are still figuring out what to do.
It's also possible that, like with the change for airline passengers, public outcry could cause officials to backpedal and decide to give an exemption for military bases.
For now, however, know that this is the plan: if, like me, your state-issued ID is from one of these states, you're out of luck in the pass office.
What kind of IDs do work?According to several bases that have announced how this is going to work, you can use a passport or a variety of other types of IDs instead of your state driver's license to get a visitor's pass (get ready, this list is kind of long): Federal Identification Cards (PIC); Transportation Worker Identification Card; United States Passport or United States Passport Card - Permanent Resident Card/Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551); Foreign passport with a temporary (I-551) stamp or temporary (I-551) printed notation on a machine readable immigrant visa; an employment authorization document that contains a photograph (Form I-766); ID card issued by Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies (must contain photo, name, DOB, gender, height, eye color & address); U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Legacy Cards; U.S. Coast Guard New Merchant Mariner Credential; Native American Tribal Document.
Additionally, two bases -- White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri -- which are both in states with problematic IDs, have said they will still accept the questionable driver's licenses as long as you can also present one of these supporting forms of ID: original U.S. social security card; U.S. Military or draft record; Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the State Department; U.S. Citizen ID Card; ID card for use of Resident Citizen in the U.S.
Are there any exceptions?Individual bases might grant one-time exceptions while they spread the word about this change. For example, officials at Fort Leonard Wood said they will allow a one-time exception until January 28. You're going to have to check with your local base to see if this is true.
What if I have an enhanced driver's license from one of those states?Although the Department of Homeland Security has said enhanced driver's licenses (EDL) from those states are still accepted and in the clear, they also said it's up to the "individual agencies" as to whether or not they will accept them. The Defense Department has not said whether or not they are going to allow the EDL.
Update: DoD officials just told me EDLs are good to go.