The Real ID Act and Military Base Access
May 7, 2025 Deadline
UPDATE: On May 7, 2025, U.S. travelers must be REAL ID compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently finalized an update to its DoD-Wide installation security policy and is in the process of no longer accepting noncompliant marked cards across all of its facilities and installations. However, DoD will continue to accept state-issued noncompliant unmarked "legacy" cards until the May 7, 2025 deadline.
IDs for Base Access
The 2005 law known as the Real ID Act, requires states to meet minimum security requirements for state-issued ID cards such as driver's licenses, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Although the agency's extension for the affected states has expired, Pentagon officials have granted extra time for DoD-operated locations. The reason behind the Real ID Act is to stop the production of fake ID's.
At this time there is no update to how military bases are handling this legislation. As of now a state issued driver's license should suffice when entering the depots at San Diego and Parris Island. However, we recommend calling ahead of time, leaving enough time to acquire a new state issued ID or a passport. Beyond MCRD is another issue; this March we had a staff member that was not allowed to use her Missouri State ID to gain access to a military facility.
As of now not every state is compliant with the law and those who are not compliant have filed extensions. The extension will last until October 1, 2021. For more information on the Real ID Act you can visit the Official website of the Department of Homeland Security.
How to Get on Base
One of the most common questions we are asked is about how to gain access to the base. Many people believe that as long as they are with their Marine, or as long as they explain to the gate guard why they are trying to get on base they will be allowed to enter. While this may occur from time to time, this is not the official policy. Keep in mind that the official policy for each installation may differ, but the overall theme remains the same.
The easiest way to gain access to the base is to have a Department of Defense (DoD) I.D. Government officials obviously understand that not everyone will have one of these I.D.'s, so they put policies in place that will allow civilians access to the base. The policies include procedures and the items needed to get on base. Generally, the items that may be needed to gain access are:
- Federal I.D., state issued I.D., or driver's license. (Expired I.D.'s will not be accepted.)
- Passport (Expired passports will not be accepted.)
- Vehicle registration (if renting, the car rental agreement will suffice)
- Proof of vehicle insurance
Even when being escorted by your Marine, the base may require civilians to come to the visitor's center, which are usually located near the front gate. While at the visitor's center the Marine's guests may have to fill out some paperwork and even possibly have their I.D. scanned and put on file. The Marine will be held responsible for the actions of their guest while aboard the installation.
The Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS)
The Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) is an identification authentication and force protection tool that is fully operational on military bases throughout the world.
Written by David Ogden, Sgt. USMC '11-'16.
David was a Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps from 2011-2016. He is a combat veteran. He has worked at Marine Parents as a writer since he left the Marine Corps. He is currently in college and writes for the organization full-time. Click here to read more about the author.