Military Base Access for Civilians & How to Host Guests (2022 Edition)
Are you a military member wanting to host family or friends in your on-base housing or a civilian trying to figure out how on Earth you can get on base? No matter your reasons for researching how to get military base access for civilians, we have answers.
Getting military base access for civilians, whether for the short-term or long-term, can seem like a confusing and overwhelming task. Don’t worry! Our job is to give you the information you need to go in with confidence.
If you are a current military member or milspouse living on base you can skip to this section here.
If you are a civilian, keep on reading! Your info is up first.
Can I Visit a Military Base?
The short answer is YES!
Most people can visit a military base with no issue. However, it’s not like visiting grandma where you can just pull up and walk in. You must bring all required documents and be willing to submit to a background check.
Usually, you’ll need to have a sponsor, too. However, this won’t be an issue if you’re visiting a Service Member.
Something to keep in mind: Requirements for how to visit someone on a military base can be different depending on what base you’re trying to access, why you’re requesting access, and for how long you need access.
How to Get a Military Base Pass
The first step to getting on base is to do your due diligence. Accessing a base isn’t a last minute decision to be made on your way home from the mall on a random Sunday outing.
Most bases make things easy by providing a website or dedicated page for their Visitor’s Center. Always go here first and search for the specific installation’s information on how they operate. You can always call the general number listed in our website’s phone directory to access someone from the Visitor’s Center.
They’ll tell you how to get a military base pass for your installation and how to actually get on base.
If You Have a Sponsor You’re Riding With
Many bases require non-military or military family members to have a sponsor to get on base. In this case, the sponsor (who needs to be a Service Member) must fill out a sponsorship form.
If you are riding onto base in the car of your sponsor, you only need your driver’s license or another valid photo ID to pass through the gate. Keep in mind that some bases only allow the Service Member to sponsor one guest in their vehicle at a time. Others only limit the number to the amount of seats in your vehicle. Check with the Visitor’s Center to see if your base has restrictions.
If You’re Visiting Base in Your Own Vehicle
You’ll need more documents if you’re looking to drive onto base in your own vehicle than you would if you were riding in with a Service Member. Your sponsor can request a base pass for you ahead of time and meet you at the gate to make the process smoother. Once you have the base pass confirmed, you can make your visit to the base on any of the approved dates listed on your pass. The Visitor’s Center will be able to tell you where exactly to go, how to get there, and what documents to bring with you.
If you do not have a pass by the time you need to visit base, your sponsor has to accompany you to the Visitor’s Center. Here you can fully register for an access pass, register your vehicle, and make any other arrangements with the base for future base visits.
If You Don’t Have a Sponsor
If you do not have a sponsor to request a base pass for you, you will still need to present a valid ID when you pull up to the gate. Then, you will need to immediately go to the Visitor’s Center. Usually, you can find your base’s Visitor’s Center close to the main gate.
Most commonly, you’ll want to have the following on-hand before pulling up to the appropriate gate alone:
- Valid ID
- Vehicle Registration (to be presented to Visitor’s Center for vehicle base registration)
- Proof of Insurance (to be presented to Visitor’s Center for vehicle base registration)
Some people cannot access military bases. If you or your sponsor applies for a base pass on your behalf and you are denied, this is called barment. It can occur for any number of reasons. Any of the following can cause you to be denied access to a base:
- If you have been forcibly removed from a military base in the past and asked not to return.
- If you are a convicted felon currently on parole.
- If you attempt to enter a base without proper authorization.
- If you have a history of gang affiliation.
- If you are a registered sex offender.
- If you have been barred from another U.S. Military base.
REAL ID Act
In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which goes into effect October 2021. For civilians, this means that there is a stricter set of requirements as to what can be presented as a valid ID when attempting to obtain access to a military base. According to the REAL ID Act, your ID must comply with the following rules to grant you access to a military base after October 2021:
- ID must have your full legal name.
- ID must have your date of birth.
- ID must have your gender.
- ID must have an identifiable number (i.e. driver’s license number).
- ID must include a photo of you.
- ID must include your primary residence.
- ID must include your signature.
- ID must have “physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.”
- ID must be machine-readable.
As of fall 2020, all 50 states now comply with REAL ID Act regulations concerning driver’s licenses and other state-issued IDs, like passports.
If you’re unsure of whether or not your ID complies, there’s a simple giveaway (for driver’s licenses, at least). If you see a gold icon (examples include a circle, rectangle, and even a bear) with a star shape inside it on your license, that means your ID is REAL ID compliant. Non-compliant IDs will usually have some indication, too, like the phrase “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.”
If you believe that your ID is non-compliant, visit your DMV to get an updated version that is compliant.
Hosting Guests Where You Live on Base
If you’ve been itching to host guests in your on-base housing, you might have asked yourself, “Can civilians get on military bases?” Yes, they can!
Though we all know military members throw the best parties, you might want to invite non-military members to visit you from time to time. If that’s the case, there is usually a strict set of protocols that you’ll both need to follow to get military base access for civilians.
1. Fill out a sponsorship form for them and request a base access pass.
- This may include you gathering information from them such as their date of birth, driver’s license number, birth city, and social security number.
- You need to fill out a sponsorship form and request a pass for each individual person you want to invite on base.
2. Wait for approval.
- Don’t assume you will get approval just because you requested a pass. If they try to get on base without authorization, they could be barred.
3. Share the base access pass with them.
- Each person should have their own pass.
4. Meet your guests at the gate.
- Escort your guests to the Visitor’s Center to register their vehicle (if applicable) and fill out any outstanding paperwork.
These steps will vary from installation to installation. There may be specific gates that your guests need to enter through, and there may be additional steps they need to take to gain access. If this is the case, make sure they’re brushed up and in the know before they start making their way to base. Give them detailed instructions of the roads on base and make sure they have all the required documentation (valid ID, car insurance, and car registration) before attempting to gain military base access.
Looking for things to do at home while you’re hosting guests on-base? Check out our list of things to do under your base’s community section. Or if you want to just veg inside, head over to our trending blog 21 of the Best Military Movies to Binge-Watch Now (2021 Edition).
Now that you know how to host or visit someone on a military base, you’re home free! Don’t let the rules, regulations, and steps stop you from having fun on base. We know they can seem daunting at first. However, after your second or third time visiting base or getting military base access for civilians you want to host, you’ll forget all about any anxiety you had before! After all, these rules are put in place to protect the Military men and women who live and work on your local installation.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.