JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- Copying photo identification cards may seem like a common and acceptable practice, but if it is your military photo ID you should be wary. Generally, you should not allow your military ID to be copied because it is prohibited by law under 18 U.S.C. § 701. However, you can allow a state or federal agency to copy your military ID in some circumstances.
Government agencies may make copies of federal government ID cards for authorized purposes. These agencies are authorized to do so by law and pursuant to their duty to protect information in accordance with government regulation. Examples of authorized purposes for government agencies include verification of TriCare eligibility, official use by police, verification of eligibility for Veteran's Administration benefits or services, or verification of military or dependent status for tax purposes.
However, you should never allow a commercial establishment to make a photocopy of your government ID or duplicate it in any way. You may show a business your military ID, but if asked for a copy you should only allow them to copy your driver's license or another non- federal government ID. If a business still insists on making a copy of your military ID, valid options are asking your chain of command for a letter stating your military service or simply taking your business elsewhere.
Consequences for unauthorized use of federal government ID cards, including making and possessing unauthorized copies of ID cards, are fines and/or imprisonment for not more than six months. Federal government ID cards grant access and contain information that would be valuable to criminal elements and terrorist organizations. Protecting ID cards from counterfeiting is therefore extremely important to the security of the military and of the nation.
This publication is part of the Legal Assistance Office Preventative Law Series published each month. For other recent publications go to 149 FW website and Facebook. For legal assistance, please contact the Legal Assistance Office at 925-8208 during drill weekends. During the week, members may contact the Headquarters - Austin Legal Assistance Office at DSN 954-1178/1169.
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