Military family members, retirees and their family members and certain others will get new ID cards as they renew or replace their IDs over the next five years.
It will be similar to the common access card used by military personnel and DoD personnel, without the chip. The change applies to well over 5 million people with ID cards who are non-CAC holders, with the largest populations affected being military retirees, and dependents of active duty and retirees. But unless your ID card is about to expire, there’s no need to rush to get the new card, especially during this era of pandemic when officials don’t want ID card offices flooded with people.
You have time — the transition to the Next Generation Uniformed Services Identification Card is expected to be completed in January, 2026, according to Michael Sorrento, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, in a briefing. In the meantime, the old cards will continue to work.
And the new-card capability isn’t yet available at all Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification Card System sites, known as RAPIDS sites, because not all sites have the new equipment that is required to produce them. About 20 sites can currently issue the new cards, but Sorrento said all RAPIDS sites worldwide will have the new equipment by the end of the year.
Sorrento said the new ID card has the same technology, and the same kind of lamination as the CAC has, making it much more durable. The new cards have enhanced security features to reduce the likelihood that the cards could be compromised, he said.
This is the first time since 1993 that changes have been made to the card. The future looks bright, too, as officials work on some enhanced features. For example, the cardholder might be able to go online and order an ID card through a proper vetting process, and have it mailed, without having to visit the RAPIDS office.
And as new benefits become available, they can add those in to the cards’ features more easily, Sorrento said.
Officials believe at some point, an ID card won’t be needed, with future digital IDs and such. The underlying technology of this ID card supports all the improvements planned for the future, providing the foundation for greater capabilities for the cardholders for a long time to come, Sorrento said.
If you need to replace your card, because it’s expiring, for example, you should make an appointment at your RAPIDS site. Visit www.cac.mil, which has links to information, locations and phone numbers for RAPIDS sites.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.