Managing Your Common Access Card (CAC)

Once you have your CAC, you'll need to handle it with care because you'll be using it often. The information on this page should help you with the most common scenarios.

Using Your Card

Your CAC will offer a variety of functions depending on your component/Command. While each component/Command can tailor the functions of the card to meet its specific needs, the CAC is primarily for authentication. While specific information related to food service, training, dental, medical, physical/logical access is not stored on the card, the credential can be used to enable such systems.

Keeping Your CAC Secure

You will need a personal identification number (PIN) to access information stored on a CAC. Only those authorized personnel who are granted access to the applications and secret keys can modify or delete the data added on the chip, and then only with your PIN.

To protect the information on your CAC, you should never tell anyone your PIN or write it down where it can be easily found. Your PIN should be kept secure at all times, just like your Social Security Number. Even if you enter the incorrect PIN three times consecutively, the card is designed to lock you out so you cannot access your information.

Any person willfully altering, damaging, lending, counterfeiting, or using these cards in any unauthorized manner is subject to fine or imprisonment or both. Unauthorized or fraudulent use of ID cards would exist if you used the card to obtain benefits and privileges to which you are not entitled. Examples of authorized photocopying include photocopying of DoD ID cards to facilitate medical care processing, check cashing, voting, tax matters, compliance with appendix 501 of title 50, U.S.C. (also known as "The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act"), or administering other military-related benefits to eligible beneficiaries.

Maintaining Your Card

You can safely keep your CAC in a wallet or purse. You cannot, however, amend, modify, or overprint your CAC. No stickers or other adhesive materials are to be placed on either side of an ID card as well. You can also photocopy a CAC without damaging it, but any person willfully altering, damaging, lending, counterfeiting, or using these cards in any unauthorized manner is subject to fine or imprisonment or both.

Replacing Your Card

If you lose your card, you shall be required to present documentation from the local security office or CAC sponsor confirming that the CAC has been reported lost or stolen. This documentation must be scanned and stored in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

Changing Your PIN

If you forget your PIN, go to the nearest issuance site, where you will be given the opportunity to prove that you are the owner of the CAC by matching your fingerprint against the fingerprint that was stored on DEERS when you were issued the card. If your fingerprint matches successfully, you can select a new PIN. Currently, there is no capability to reset your PIN remotely.

Renewing Your Card

If your CAC expires and you are eligible for a new CAC, you should go to the nearest RAPIDS site and obtain your new CAC. For your convenience, CACs can be brought in for renewal up to 30 days in advance of the expiration date.

Returning Your Card

All ID cards are property of the U.S. Government and shall be returned upon separation, resignation, firing, termination of contract or affiliation with the DoD, or upon any other event in which the individual no longer requires the use of an ID card.

To prevent any unauthorized use, ID cards that are expired, invalidated, stolen, lost, or otherwise suspected of potential or actual unauthorized use shall be revoked in DEERS, and the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates on the CACs will be immediately revoked.