ASK THE DMV: FAQs for Active-Duty Military, Veterans, and Military Family and Friends

The DMV salutes active-duty military and veterans. With Veteran’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to get informed about veteran ID designation, handling IDs for armed forces away from home, and the benefits of a REAL ID for extended family and friends of active military personnel. 

Below are DMV-provided responses to frequently asked questions to help our active-duty military, veterans and military friends and family get ahead at the DMV.

Question: How do I add the veteran designation to my DL/ID? 

Answer: Eligible veterans can add the word “VETERAN” to the front of their DL/ID card to indicate that they have served in the United States military. Having this designation on your DL/ID can play a critical role in enabling access to certain privileges, benefits, or compensation associated with being a veteran without having to carry a certificate of release or discharge from active duty.

To apply for the veteran designation on your DL/ID card, you will need to:

  1. Complete a Driver’s License & Identification Card Application (DL 44/eDL 44) form.
  2. Visit a County Veteran Service Office (CVSO) to obtain a Veteran Status Verification Form (VSD-001). (This form is not available from DMV.)
  3. Bring the completed VSD-001 to a DMV field office.
  4. Pay the nonrefundable application fee.
  5. Pay an additional $5 fee to add the veteran designation to your DL/ID card (applicants who qualify for a reduced fee, or no fee driver license or identification card may waive the $5 fee).
    Note: SB 837 will take effect on January 1, 2023, and will eliminate the one-time $5 fee to add a veteran designation to a driver’s license or identification card. 

Visit to get started.

Question: Can my friends and extended family visit me at a military base without a REAL ID?

Answer: Starting May 3, 2023, everyone will need a federally approved form of identification, such as a REAL ID or passport, to enter military bases and other federal facilities. Military IDs will meet this requirement, but civilians who wish to visit bases will need to ensure they have federally compliant identification, such as a REAL ID. 

You can start your REAL ID application online now to beat the rush as the enforcement date draws closer. After completing your online application and uploading your documents, visit your local DMV office with your documents to finish the application process. Visit to get started. 

Question: How is licensing handled for U.S. Armed Forces and Foreign Service personnel away from home? 

Answer: If you are out of state on active military service in the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Foreign Service, you and your spouse’s California DLs will continue to be valid beyond the normal expiration date. DMV will send you an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces (DL 236) card to carry with your DL. The DL 236 card shows CVC §12817, which authorizes the extension of your and your spouse’s DLs. 

It is important to update your driving record to prevent it from being purged. If your DL has expired and you are out of state, call (916) 657-7790 to update your driving record.

For more information or answers to questions specifically for veterans, active military, and their family members, please visit our website here. 

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