Veteran designation gets an update on new California Driver Licenses

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently announced changes to state driver licenses in adherence with federal mandates.

Veteran Designation - CA DLStarting Jan. 22, the DMV will roll out a new REAL ID compliant driver license, which not only sports a new look, but also can be used by travelers at airport security. Your current California driver license can be used at airport security through October 1, 2020, but after that, passengers will need to use a REAL ID compliant card or two forms of identification to pass through security.

Features of the new REAL ID license include:

  • A golden bear with a white star has been inserted in the upper right corner of the ID – all REAL ID licenses must have this white star to show they are compliant.
  • The card includes a Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) or barcode that officers can scan electronically – a feature that was present in prior generations of the card.
  • Added graphics include a forty-niner miner, golden poppies (California state flower) orchards, and a large image of the state of California running down the middle of the card.
  • Visible only under ultraviolet “UV” light will be images of the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit tower.


New and current DL cardsVETERAN DESIGNATION

For veterans, there’s a slight difference to the service designation on the new cards.

Two new stripes – red and blue – outline the veteran designation and the text is bigger than previous cards.

The new REAL ID driver license cards will still double as a veteran ID card, and when adding that designation you may discover some unknown benefits due to you in the process.

Beyond a free meal offered on Veterans Day, a visit to your local County Veteran Service Office (CVSO) could lead to assistance with preparing claims for disability, pension, compensation, education benefits, medical care and death benefits, such as burial allowances.

So before you head out to get a new REAL ID card, apply for the designation and start earning benefits today.

To apply, follow these steps:

  • Begin by taking your DD-214 to a CVSO to obtain a Veteran Status Verification Form. To find a local CVSO, call 844-737-8838 or check our web listing. While you’re there, be sure to ask about other benefits you might be eligible for.
  • Make an appointment to visit the DMV by scheduling online or calling 1-800-777-0133. You must bring the completed and stamped Veteran Status Verification Form and driver license application to your appointment at a DMV field office.
  • Pay your one-time $5 designation fee, in addition to any other application fees associated with a renewal, duplicate or original driver license and/or ID card.

In the two years since Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed legislation authorizing a veteran designation on California driver licenses and identification cards, more than 64,000 veterans have applied and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued more than 55,000.

Learn more about the READ ID cards at


  1. Robert Julian · · Reply

    All be advised, a document, from (via the TSA website), states that CA driver licenses can only be used for airport security until 10/10/2018 (not 10/1/2020 as stated in this Calvert Connect).


    1. Steven Wilson · · Reply

      Hi Robert. The date you are referring to is for DMV use only, and does not affect travelers. The 2020 date listed is correct for travelers. Thank you for the question.


  2. Not every veteran, who were honorably discharged, get a DD214. Many receive a DD-256. I don’t know why these veterans are treated as second class veterans in the eyes of CVSO. It’s not like a Private has a say when they are called up for war. Many serve during peace time.


  3. sean Stephns · · Reply

    The DD256 form is only for discharge from inactive reserves.
    If you got a DD256 then you must have gotten a DD214 for your time during basic training.


    1. Unfortunately, you don’t get a dd-214 for basic training. Trust me, i have been researching this for years. Here’s what bugs me. The DMV delegated the responsibility to prove you are a veteran to the CSVO and it is this veteran group that made up the requirements. I got a VA loan just fine – glad the CSVO was not in charge of that either. In Illinois, the state legislature had to pass a law to correct this so if I move to that state and go to their Veteran’s office, they would issue me that document. Look it up.


  4. Joseph Hopelian · · Reply

    According to CVSO, you are not a “real veteran” if you served as a national guard or reservist until you show “active duty” on your DD 214 outside of basic training. It is truly a slap in the face to have faithfully served on active guard for 6 years and inactive for another 2 years. To be not just willing, but to have actually volunteered for every single mission that arose between 1989 and 1997, including Desert Storm where my base mission was west coast patrol for the continental US so we did not deploy over sea, but did report to base for extended service during this time. This is absolutely a slap in the face to all Guard and Reserve members who took the same oath and are getting snubbed.


    1. Joseph Hopelian · · Reply

      it is almost as if CalVet wants to degrade people who chose Guard or Reserve over Active Duty.


    2. Cathy Kenny · · Reply

      Joseph – Thank you for your many years of service in the Guard. In this case, CalVet uses the eligibility definition established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Active duty for training purposes only (ADT) does not qualify. However, if you were deployed on federal orders, that should be sufficient. Here is the USDVA definition for eligibility: “If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well. Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet the basic eligibility requirement.”


      1. I can understand that basic training for guard/reserves will not qualify for VA Health but the DMV License is to determine if you are a Veteran so the Cal Vet organization selected an unfair definition to meet DMV’s requirements. This is why the legislature in Illinois had to step in. Cal Vet can change the definition and the DMV would not care – they just want the document from CalVets.


      2. Cathy Kenny · ·

        I understand your concern. I will raise this issue internally.


      3. Thank you for looking into it. It is not only Illinois but New Jersey and Michigan clearly states that DD-215 are acceptable documentation.


      4. Joseph Hopelian · ·

        Well that is an unfair standard considering that on the same website I do qualify as a “Veteran” for the purposes of a home loan based on the completion of the 6 years active enlistment in the guard.

        Selected Reserve or National Guard:

        If you are not otherwise eligible and you have completed a total of six credible years* in the Selected Reserve or National Guard (member of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and two-week active duty for training) and one of the following: •Were discharged with an honorable discharge
        •Were placed on the retired list
        •Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable service
        •Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve

        *Individuals who completed less than six years may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.


  5. Joseph Hopelian · · Reply

    In case you do actually bring this up internally, here is the link to the page on the Federal Veterans Affairs website that does in fact recognize Select Guard and Reserve Members as Veterans. (scroll down half way to see their requirements) It seems very convenient for some people who want to look down on Guard and Reserve members as being (as stated above by another) second class citizens. I understand more stringent requirements for receiving some sort of monetary valued benefits, but the drivers license has none of that. It simply recognizes the heart of a volunteer who was willing to put themselves into whatever situation was needed whenever called upon in order to serve. The swearing in oath is exactly the same for Guard, Reserve and Active Duty. So is the uniform and the requirements to be honored to wear it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] a Drivers License with a veterans designation, […]


  7. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve
    put in writing this website. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts
    from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated
    me to get my own blog now 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As of January 2020, VA VHIC card will allow access to military base Exchange and Commissary facilities. See,

    But even without the VHIC card, Vets can use online Exchanges, links at end of the page above.


  9. Laura J. White · · Reply

    If my veteran status is already indicated on my current driver’s license will that transfer automatically to suffice to my real id also? Was that paperwork retained by the DMV, or do I need to obtain additional paperwork from the CVSO again?


  10. william ashton · · Reply

    went to the DMV dor the Real ID and Veterans logo- made appointments and brought my DD214- the clerk said this is not what you need, you need form D00001 from to Veterans office- Veterans office has no idea what that is.— the Veterans assistance process is faulty. It truly is difficult to accept how we are treated.


    1. William, the DMV will not accept your dd214. You have to make an appointment with CalVet and show them your dd214. In return, they will give you a form on the spot to take to the DMV.


      1. M.H., thanks. Yes I believe CalVet is involved because service documentation differs for reservists, and so CalVet is fully informed on the different forms involved, depending on how the veteran served. Besides, clerks at DMV are not sophisticated enough on DOD forms that they would be able to understand a DD214, or ANY DDxyz form. The form DMV gets from CalVet is very simple: “yes this guy is a Vet”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: