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Reproduction of military ID card is prohibited in most cases

Were Here to Help
Email   Print   Share By Master Sgt. Christopher Bricker, Assistant Inspector General
October 8, 2009 | News
Have you ever thought about why off-post “commercial establishments” will ask for a copy of your military identification card when making a major purchase? You could assume it is to ascertain whether you are in the military and have a steady income. However, there could be other reasons they want a copy. Most Soldiers who go off post to purchase a vehicle, a home or any other high-dollar item usually hear a familiar statement: “all we need is a copy of your military ID card for processing.” Most Soldiers either are, in a rush to leave and surrender their ID card for photocopying or want their new item and, without hesitation, produce their military ID card and hand it over to the sales representative to make a photographic copy.

Many military members, family member and DoD employees are unaware this is prohibited by law under TITLE 18 U.S.C. § 701: U.S. Code – Section 701: Official badges, identification cards, other insignia.

“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.”

This law is part of the U.S. Code is and currently published by the U.S. government and reflects the law passed by Congress as of Jan. 8, 2008. The Web site for this can be found at

The federal statute is clear about the prohibition. Many institutions don’t know the law and ask for a photo copy of a military ID card because that is the way they have always done it. You cannot be denied service by failing to provide a photocopy of your military ID card. We are aware of reality and many establishments will put up a fight. The biggest hurdle is those establishments who have always photocopied military ID cards, don’t know the law and refuse to listen. A driver’s license will suffice along with “showing” a military ID card or a written statement of verification of military service which can be provided by your chain of command. If the establishment still demands a copy, simply take your business elsewhere. Certain military/government agencies that require a photocopy of a military ID card (i.e. TRICARE / Veterans Administration) do so “FOR OFFICAL USE ONLY” and therefore should not be grouped into “commercial establishments.” Although the law is not agency-specific about the photocopying of ID cards, one could make a logical assumption that the photocopy would be safeguarded in accordance with government regulations. Asking for military/government identification is totally permissible by commercial establishments, however many DoD personnel are unaware of the prohibition on duplication of government identification. There are no safeguards in place to ensure a government identification card won’t be counterfeited or “cloned” based on a photocopy by a commercial establishment. Criminal elements and terrorist organizations place U.S. government identification as a high value logistic item when planning acts against the U.S. military. Military/DoD members should provide a state drivers license or other form of photo identification to be photocopied if an establishment insists on a photocopy of identification.

For further information contact you servicing legal office or you’re supporting IG office. As always, Be Right and Go Forward, in the IG office we are here to help.
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