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. 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.


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