Can you scan a military ID?

Silhouettes of military personnel walking in front of water

Last updated on April 4th, 2024 at 10:10 am

Can you scan a military ID? The short answer is no, but there are exceptions to this rule. As the name suggests, military IDs and Common Access Cards(CAC) are a formats of identification that current servicemen and women, veterans, reservists, and dependents can get. A military ID card or CAC allows a person to prove their status in relation to the Dept. of Defense, thus gaining access to certain places including military bases, stores, and medical facilities. 

Military ID cards and CAC often contain sensitive information that can often be used in identity fraud. As such, laws have been put in place to limit exposure by making it illegal to photocopy them.

While many individuals have access to a military ID, or might work at an establishment that gets  a lot of military IDs, it is crucial to know that it is actually illegal to photocopy a military ID. This means not enabling any form of image capture if your visitor management system is regularly scanning military ID cards.

Military ID and CAC sample card

What information is stored in the barcode of a military ID or CAC?

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Personnel category
  • Benefits information
  • Organization affiliation
  • Pay grade

Does the barcode of a military ID or CAC contain the Social Security Number?

No. As of June 2011, the Social Security Number that had previously been embedded in the barcode of the military ID or CAC was replaced by the individuals DoD identification number. This move was done in an effort to help reduce identity fraud since the SSN is so often used in such attempts.

What the law states

Per Title 18, US Code, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 701, the law states:

Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card or other insignia of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof, or photographs, prints, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

Photocopying vs. Scanning

Scanning and parsing the data on the 2D barcode of a military ID using an ID scanner may be allowed under Title 18. However, capturing any image or likeness of the military ID card is strictly forbidden. Furthermore, VeriScan software does not have a parsable field for SSN, so there would be no ability using our software to extract the servicemember’s social security number from the ID, other than through visual inspection and manual entry. 

Exceptions to the rule

Medical establishments are exempt from this law. The only reason they remain exempt is due to insurance purposes. Most insurance companies require proof of identification for insurance claims to be filed, so doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other medical entities remain exempt for the time being.

Other government agencies that need to photocopy a military ID for official government business also remain exempt from this law. 

So, in most cases the answer to whether a business can scan a military ID will be no. Now, it is important to note that businesses are allowed to look at your military ID to verify age, but should they need to make a photocopy, you reserve the right to tell them no. If they are insistent, give them your state driver’s license, or some other form of identification.

Penalties for falsifying a military ID or CAC

For military personnel found guilty of counterfeiting a military ID or CAC, the maximum punishment is a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of allowances and pay, and 3 years of confinement. For lesser charges, the person can be punished with a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of allowances and pay, and 6 months of confinement.

For more information on ID Laws at both a state and federal level, be sure to look into our ID Laws portal which receives regular updates.