MANCHESTER - 24th July | LONDON - 31st October
veteranUK soldier

The UK veteran ID card: what you need to know

Let’s take a look at the details of this scheme, the advantages it can offer for armed forces veterans and how you can apply.

What is the veteran ID card?

The veteran ID card is proof that you served in the UK armed forces. It’s an initiative that was first announced by the government in 2019 to support veterans and help them maintain a “tangible link to their career in the forces”.

Tobias Ellwood, who was minister for defence people and veterans at the time, said the ID cards recognise the “commitment and dedication” of British armed forces veterans and aim to provide stronger links to ex-military personnel and the “incredible community around them”.

The government also said this scheme will complement the NHS’ commitment to offering specialist care and health support to individuals who have spent time serving in the military.

You’re eligible to apply for a veteran ID card if you served in the regulars or reserves in the:

  • Royal Navy
  • Army
  • Royal Air Force
  • Royal Marines

If you served in another group within the UK armed forces, you may still be able to receive an ID card. You can check this when making your application, either online or when requesting a form through the post.

The HM Armed Forces Veteran Card exists alongside the MOD Form 90 military ID, which ex-forces personnel are allowed to keep to maintain their emotional connection with the service.

What are the benefits of a veteran ID card?

A key motivation behind the introduction of the new ID card to show veteran status was to make it easier for ex-military personnel to prove that they served in the British armed forces.

This should speed up the process of applying for the support to which you’re entitled as a service leaver, whether that’s from the NHS, your local authority or charities such as the Royal British Legion.

Holding an ID card to prove that you served makes it easier to apply for schemes such as the Veterans Railcard. This entitles you to up to a third off the cost of most rail fares across England, Wales and Scotland.

You will also be required to verify your veteran status if you want to apply for a Defence Discount Service card, which can help you get money off purchases from more than 12,000 shops and restaurants, both on the high street and online.

Other situations where you could benefit from being able to quickly prove that you served in HM armed forces include:

  • Accessing offers during special events, such as free travel on public transport to and from commemorative occasions on Remembrance Sunday weekend
  • Seeking National Insurance contributions relief for your employer in your first civilian role after service
  • Gaining exemption from a local connection test when applying for social housing

Being able to conduct quicker checks to identify veterans is also expected to benefit local authorities, charities, health services and the government organisation Veterans UK, which oversees pensions and compensation payments for armed forces personnel.

What do you need to apply for a veteran ID card?

All ex-forces personnel who left the military on or after December 17th 2018 should automatically receive an ID card certifying their veteran status.

Armed forces veterans whose period of service ended before this date will need to submit an application to obtain their card.

The quickest and easiest way to do this is online, which you can do if you’re applying for yourself. Anyone submitting an application on behalf of someone else will need to do so by post.

To apply online, you must have a GOV.UK One Login to prove your identity. If you don’t already have one, you can create one using an email address and a photo ID, such as a UK passport or driving licence.

Once logged in to the online portal, you’ll need the following information to complete your application:

  • Your service number for the last period in which you served
  • The approximate dates that you started and ended your period of service
  • A recent passport-style digital photo that shows your head and shoulders
  • Your National Insurance number

You don’t need to pay anything to submit your veteran card application.

If you’re unable to apply online, contact Veterans UK to request a form that you can return by post.

How long will it take for my veteran ID card to arrive?

Once your application has been submitted and accepted, you should receive your HM Armed Forces Veteran Card within eight weeks.

In the event that you don’t receive it or if you’re having problems applying, get in touch with the Veterans UK helpline on 0808 1914 218. You can also email

If you have a background in military service and are considering your prospects in terms of a civilian career, you can learn more about the options available to you at the forthcoming Veteran UK event in Manchester or London.

This one-day careers fair is free to attend and will be taking place at the Manchester Central Convention Complex on July 24th and the QEII Centre in London on October 31st.

Come along to network with companies interested in hiring candidates with your sort of experience, meet potential employers face-to-face and plan the next stage in your professional life.

You can find registration details here.

Photo credits

© Crown copyright 2023

© Crown copyright 2022