Veteran ID card (Picture: MOD).
Example of a Veterans ID card (Picture: MOD).

UK Veteran ID cards: All the gen about them

Veteran ID card (Picture: MOD).
Example of a Veterans ID card (Picture: MOD).

In 2019, ministers pledged to give every veteran an ID card to enable them quicker access to health, housing, and charity services.

As of November 2022, data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that only 56,000 ID cards have been handed out since 2018, despite there being more than 1.8 million veterans in England and Wales.

That could, Labour says, mean all of those entitled to a card would, in theory, be waiting 125 years to receive it.

It comes after Minister for Veterans' Affairs Johnny Mercer told The Telegraph newspaper that the scheme would be delivered by summer 2023.

However, a Government spokesperson reassured veterans of a new digital feature to help them. and explained: "The rollout of veteran ID cards is accelerating.

"From next year, veterans will be able to access our new digital service which will enable them to quickly and easily verify their status online, playing a vital role in making sure those who need targeted support get fast access to a range of government services, from health to housing, as well as charity services.

"We have invested more than £1m into the service and look forward to delivering real change to the lives of our veterans."

What is the Veterans ID for?

Until plans for the Veterans ID card were made, there was no way for veterans to easily prove the fact that they had served. Previously, personnel were required to hand back their ID card (MOD 90) upon being discharged.

The new Veteran ID card is to have two functions: to provide a memento of service, to maintain a tangible link to the Armed Forces, and to allow Veterans to easily verify their service to the NHS, their local authority, and charities, enabling them to access support and services where needed.

How will it be phased in?

Delivery of the new UK Veteran ID Card will be rolled out in two tranches:

Phase 1: The Veterans ID Card has already been provided to all Service Leavers as part of the discharge process with effect from 18th February 2019, and retrospectively to those who left on or after 17 December 2018.

Phase 2: Applications from the wider veteran community will receive their cards.

Can older veterans apply?

The application process has yet to be agreed and will be made available by the end of 2019. However, veterans who have already left the Armed Forces can register for the Defence Discount Service card, if they haven’t already.

While the Veteran ID card will act as proof of service and Veteran status, the Defence Discount card is recognised online and in high street shops to obtain Armed Forces discounts on a wide range of offers from things such as holidays, cars, days out, fashion, gifts, insurance, phones and many other items.

It is free to sign up to the website and use the online discounts.

To get your card, you can apply for it here and also find the list of companies that accept the discount card.

Defence Discount Services

From 2019, personnel leaving the Armed Forces are also able to keep their military ID card, known as the 'MOD Form 90', in the hope that it will allow them to maintain their emotional connection with their service. 

Corners of their MOD form 90 will be cut off to indicate the card is no longer valid – although this has raised some concerns about maintaining security at bases and other secure locations. 

Anyone interested in advice or details regarding the Veterans ID card should contact Veterans UKwhich is a 24-hour service that directs ex-forces personnel to a range of support available to them.

Services include housing and financial advice and career guidance.

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