So Long Visitor Passes and DoD Car Decals


Fort Benning announced this week that they are no longer requiring visitors to get passes before entering post or those with military IDs who want to skip the visitor center to get DoD car decals.

Security guards will instead use a hand held scanner to input visitors’ license plates, which will be checked against some sort of database, while those with a military ID can just cruise on post, this story reports.

And that will be that.

Um – what?

In my experience, many military families choose to live on base largely because it feels secure. Sure, it’s also extremely convenient, and sometimes more economic. But in this family, living on base means that I am not worried about stuff getting stolen from my patio or locking my car at night. Maybe I should be – but I’m not.

But now, even though I know they are technically still scanning folks at the gate, I’m feeling a little less secure – and a little annoyed that we give up all of our BAH for a measure that is no longer in practice.

What do you think? Take our poll!


A base spokesperson said in this story that no longer requiring vehicles to have decals eliminates a risk for folks traveling off post. The decals, she said, can make them a target.

While that never crossed my mind before, the benefits of the decal may still out weigh the problems. For example, to get a decal a owner must show proof of insurance. And it’s a wonderful thing to know if someone in the military hits you they are covered.

This story also claims that Navy and Air Force bases have already gotten rid of the car decal. Since I’m neither Navy or Air Force, those of you who are should jump in here. Is that even remotely true?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

43 Comments on "So Long Visitor Passes and DoD Car Decals"

  1. I want to know how come no one asked US, those of us who not only work on base but live here too. Seems each branch is constantly doing a survey about one thing or another, but I know *this* Marine wife was never asked!

    • I'm a military spouse who barely visits the base in Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. I don't live on base but just recently I've been told that I CAN'T even get on base with a visitors pass. I usually get a visitors pass when I do go on base, but they are saying that I have to get a decal or I can't enter the base. I find that to be totally insane. Nothing against people who want decals on their vehicle but I shouldn't be restricted from the base because I don't!!!!!!!

  2. When I was in Monterey (two years ago), the Navy still required a decal at the Naval Postgraduate School. We're at an Army post now, so I don't know if the Navy has since gotten rid of them.

    I've always thought it was odd that there isn't one security standard for accessing bases. At our base here, all you have to do to get on base is show a valid driver's license – no checking the license plates, offering proof of insurance or anything like that. It's very different from the Presidio in Monterey, where they would actually scan my ID and look for the car decal.

  3. As of this past January, when I last got new decals, the Navy still required them. It was a big pain in the rear, though, since the nearest Pass and Tag office was out of the little number stickers for the expiration date. Of course, no one there mentioned that wee deficiency until after we reached the front of the line. We had to drive to another base and stand in line all over again, which was just how we wanted to spend our morning. I'd be thrilled not to have to go through that again.

  4. When I went to answer the poll, I found myself hoping for one more option: yes, eliminate decals and scan military IDs to allow authorized people on base, but still require those without military ID to sign in at the visitors' center and obtain a pass. I think that would be the best of both worlds.

    • That's exactly how it is on our base. It works fine, and we feel safe. Except sometimes the gate guards get a little careless and don't ask for ID cards from those in rear seats.

  5. I was at a Navy base this weekend to get a new sticker for my new vehicle and they aren't giving out stickers anymore — they only gave us a slip of paper to put in the windshield.

  6. Umm, what are card readers? We're Army and have never been anywhere such a card reader existed. But in reality, anyone can get a visitors permit, just show ID, insurance and registration. Ive never seen them call in a registration or check any kind of database anyway, so even if you're "Wanted" you can still get a permit. And here on our post, the VC closes on the weekends and at night so the gate guards just wave you through. Security of our installations in todays military is all an illusion. We all need to take precautions to protect ourselves on and off post at all times. And I think running license plates is a great idea, to me it seems more secure than current measures. But how about having a separate lane for those people so the rest of us can go about our business with our military IDs?

  7. Over 4 yrs ago the AF stopped requiring decals, but the Army still did. Since I go to both a base and a post regularly, I ended up getting Army decals. All the gate guards have checked my ID regardless.

  8. Hopefully the Navy is smarter than the Air Force and the Army. These Joint bases are a joke and the security sucks. Just a little more watering down of the Military. DoD police are a joke as well, they fit right in with the TSA. If you are too lazy to get a sticker on your car then maybe you should live on base and don 't drive.

  9. I renewed my sticker a few months ago at a Navy Base in ca. I also found out no more stickers are to be given past 2013 at the same Base. 100% ID checks are great!! My concern is how are personnel held accountable with the new policy? In the past, if you repeatedly violated the traffic code, you couldn't drive your POV on base.

  10. Stickers are required for Naval Base Kitsap (Bangor and Bremerton). Huzzy just went in today to get stickers for his motorcycle since he didn't want the hassle of getting them on Monday before work.

  11. We’re AF and haven’t had decals in forever, but our ID is checked to enter base. NAS Pensacola never required us to get a pass or decal, just our ID but we did still see decals on most cars as of last year. On all AF bases we have ever been to, visitors have to get a pass and be signed in by an ID card holder.

  12. Stickers always made me feel vulnerable, if a terrorist wanted to kill a soldier or their family member, all they had to do was look for a car with a decal. It was never a bright idea. That decal was justa big bulls-eye if you ask me. I prefer having them check my ID and to issue a pass for visitors who are coming on base. We get security without making oursleves a target.

  13. We are Army at Bragg and I have never registered my vehicle. They scan the IDs of military and search the cars, check vehicle registration and ID on anyone who does not have a military ID. I don't have any idea why someone would feel safer because they were required to register their vehicle, or why this change would allow drug dealers or others easier access.

  14. Marti Rowdy Heath | June 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm |

    Has the whole gov. gone brain dead? LET ANYONE on base and AFTER they start blowing up things or shooting people down, we'll detain them????? Another example of this gov. laying down and letting the terrorists take over this country. After 9/11, my grown son commented that he wished he was living back on base, because that was the only place he would feel totally safe. We are headed toward total destruction of this country and this gov. is making sure WE are defenseless and that their friends will not be harmed in the takeover.

  15. Matt hardy | June 19, 2011 at 11:37 pm |

    Im a dependent and i go to the af base out here all the time go pick up random things from the exchange. And for as long as i can remember. There has been a Lane for those with military ids and those without. They used to have those without ids check in at the vc but never issued passes. And nowadays. They rarely even check my id. I hold it up. He glances at it Nd waves me right on…. Its been that way for at least 5 or so years and this is at one of the largest af bases on the west coast… And i dont have a decal because i dont live on base nor in base housing. So security i my expirience has
    Never been very stingent….

  16. are you kidding me? you felt safe on post? half the army is full of criminals. you can take the person out of the hood but you will never take the hood out of the person! i am a purple heart 11 year military vet. i got hurt in Iraq on the last time over. So I am retired now.

    I have always felt the decals were STUPID! it doesnt make anything safer. do you know how easy it is to copy an insurance card??? how easy it is to fake one in order to get your decal? TOOOOO EASY. they dont call and check to see if you have insurance. give me a break. and as far as thefts, it wasnt the people coming on base that stole stuff. it was the damn soldiers. you dont know how many times i got a call at 3 in the morning because someones soldier screwed up.

    it is a commanders job to ensure anyone in his unit that drives carries insurance. not the base. at ft hood, all you had to have was a card in your window and a little arm lifted up to let you in once it sensed the proximate sensor. its call the phantom warrior pass. google it. it saved so much time. i hardly ever had my id card in my possession. was i wrong, yes but i lived on post and so i felt it was stupid to have to carry my id card on me when all i had was PTs on. its a pain.

    Guess what the only terrorist attack we had on Ft hood came from a ID card, Base tabs, having A-hole.

    So yes i say scan the id cards. but nothing more, nothing less.

  17. I refused for 20 of my 25 years to put a decal on any of my vehicles. They made me a target for numerous unwanted attention of many types whenever I was not on a post or base.

    Restricted base access is a relief to many but the decals are a thing of the past…

  18. Does anyone remember the days on most Army installations where there were no checkpoints? The posts were open to anyone. Registration decals were more of a formality. Then 9/11 happened.

    I think I like 100% ID check better than the decal/pass. Any fool can "borrow" a car with a decal – it's the ID that really matters.

  19. SGM Pompili | June 20, 2011 at 11:14 am |

    The ID card should be sufficient…..folks that express thier opinions by calling others morons are not too bright themselves.

  20. The bases around us still require stickers…all Navy or joint Army/Navy bases.

  21. Former SP augmentee | June 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    It's easier to hop the fence into base housing than it is to enter through the gate. Park in an isolated spot at about 3 a.m., climb the fence, B&E a house without a car in it's space and drop the TVs to a partner on the other side of the fence–Sheppard '88. Or how about the guy the cops caught that same summer: he strolled through base housing in the afternoon stealing car stereos and T-tops. The cop noticed him because the guy was having trouble carrying all of the loot (another fence hopper). Then there was the father-in-law (visitor's pass) who killed a Marine in self-defense at the NCO club. Then the angry dependent husband who planted a bomb in his wife's hangar. The first sergeant maimed by a package bomb. The dependent adolescent who sponsored gang members onto base. I have more examples. A visitor's pass doesn't stop bad guys. Checking a license plate or driver's license against a criminal data base is more effective.

  22. Kathaleen Berhiet | June 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    And yes, it's an AF base.

  23. Speaking from a gate guards point of view, the whole thing is a crock. All military bases require is a liscense, registration and proof of insurance (not opsec, common knowledge). Think about that.

    So the ID scanner is good, but you still have civilians that need access for various reasons. BK/KFC employees are not issued a CAC card.

  24. You can drive onto any Naval installation with a CAC card and a rental agreement on a rental car. Your military ID should be sufficient for to drive any vehicle onto any military installation because it is not the car we are trying to keep out, it is the people without the CAC cards. Visitors should always be required to get a pass to enter any installation. The idea that the program is good because it forces everyone to get insurance to get the decals is micromanaging, that is the civilian law enforcement's job to deal with.

    We already have the military too involved in our civilian lives such as riding motorcycles for example. We lose a lot more service members in car accidents and to smoking, yet no restrictions on either of those. Get rid of the decal, make our Sailors handle their civilian responsibilities for ensuring they are insured and save some money by getting rid of all those civilians sitting around issuing decals so we dont have to PTS all of our good enlisted folks.

  25. And when it all blows up in their face they will no doubt say:
    "I guess we were wrong" but at what cost?
    They could not even protect the personnel at Ft. Hood, so how will the protect
    an installation wide open??

  26. Nathean hit it on the nose……….. get a live folks

  27. Amanda……. you are weird

  28. proud mustang's wife | June 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    Four weeks ago I was required to obtain a new decal for our new vehicle. My husband is in the Navy, and the only way I've been allowed on-base was to obtain the decal.

  29. It's been said several time but I'm going to add my experience anyway. When we were first stationed at Buckley in 2007, obviously we're AIR FORCE, they required decals as well as an ID. 2008 they told us they were discontinuing them because they made us targets. I do know it was a lot easier to get on 29 Palms having a sticker, but even with that I had to do the guest pass thing. We're at Tinker AFB now and they do check everybody ID's. I neverminded the stickers, but I can see how they single you out, ans you also run the risk of some random wack job stealing your car, or even someone buying ur car without taking the stickers off. So no the Air Force does not use decals anymore. And while it's probably true living on base is not as safe as we think I would personally prefer my kids to play on base, every street has 10 moms looking out their windows at any given time.

  30. As an AF wife, most of the AF bases did away with stickers about five or six years ago when we were stationed in Florida. It really bothered me at first, especially when the only ID checked at the gate was that of the driver when entering base between 8am-6pm. We are now at McGuire AFB (or Joint Base – McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst) and every passenger has to show military ID which is then scanned and verifies the biometric data strip on the back of each card. I actually feel a lot safer with this method since they aren't just waving people through simply because they have a base sticker on their car (which are easily peeled off and stolen). I do wish, though, that they would put guards back at the entrances to base housing. I miss that extra sense of security.

  31. Nomadgirl70 | July 11, 2011 at 9:30 am |

    We in the Army still have to have tags/stickers for our vehicles, but I know know the road at the Air Force Base they do not. They aren't just allowing anyone to come on post, you still have to have a purpose. I think moving to the no tags required is a sound move. The reason, Force Protection. Unfortunately we are not in in age where we can freely display our military/government affiliation. We want to blend int, not stick out. As for living on post, it is an old misconception that living on post/base is somehow safer. Soldiers are human, soldiers kids are human and therefore as humans there are going to be the rotten apples in the bunch. We have pretty much lived in government, now privatized housing in the past 19 years and can tell you, post wide on half a dozen different instillation's we have seen our fair share of neighborhood thefts, child molesters, neglect cases, domestic violence case etc. And while the lower enlisted areas seem to have a higher number of these cases, it does happen in the officer housing areas as well. While there is a stronger since of security while living on post we should never drop our guard and act as if we living in a bubble and immune to it.

  32. While the Air Force doesn't require decals, we still have a 100% ID check at the gate. I wish the Army would catch up and stop making things more difficult for joint bases. Air Force families who have not had a decal in years are forced to get one.

  33. I live on a Navy base in Sugar Grove and they still require DoD decals. Visitors to the base must open all car doors and other compartments as well as get the underside of their cars looked at by mirror. I like the security measures.

  34. Im a little late to the party but we don’t require military id’s to stop at the vc. Visitors are all required to have passes and while a pain in the butt, I like that. But I don’t think you should have to stop at vc if you have a military id. They scan everything here anyway. I still feel safe on my nuke base without everyone getting a sticker.

  35. All the bases in my area of Florida have done away with window decals. You are stopped and have an ID check. TO ME this make more sense because the stickers could have been forged and used for terrorism, but of course I suppose they could also do that with I.D's

  36. I just visited an Air Force Base, and they have scanners. I visited a Navy base and they don't have guard shacks at some entrances and at others, they do. (Pensacola) Cherry Point has never checked our ID's, I'm not sure if it's because of the Marine Corps tags on our vehicle , but, either way, it makes me nervous.
    I have mixed emotions about this. Wasn't it a decal that allowed the crazies to access the base in NJ and scheme to plant explosives under the cover of being a construction contractor? How do we as Military dependants know that whomever is accessing our "home" is there with good intentions? How do the guards or the MP's at the gates know for sure that there aren't people entering the base who intend to do harm?. I say if your entering a Military base, you should have both, sticker and I.D. and if you get searched, well, that just means that the guards and the MP's are doing their job to keep us all safe. I think things are becoming way to relaxed when it comes to our Military Bases and it's just not the way we need to conduct ourselves after 9-11……………

  37. Since both Army and Air Force bases are located in my area, I first found out about the change of policy at an Air Force base. They let me in with just a decal and an military ID, but then I had to go to the visitors center where they digitally scanned my fingerprints and either attached that info. to my ID or put a notice on my ID that allowed me to have the "good beep."

    The discussion here on Spouse Buzz is much more reasonable so far than on where too many people are freaking out about drug dealers having access to Army posts. If the Army does the same thing and links military ID's to fingerprints, this shouldn't be a problem. But I agree with you, as long as they still check ID's.

  38. I really appreciate your candid response. :) I completely agree with you. It can be really confusing going from one base to another and facing different rules and regulations. In our area (Tacoma – Everett) we have most branches represented here and it's not always clear what is expected at each base, and the guards often are not that accomodating, especially for those from other branches visiting a different base. They're short tempered at times when we're already either vulnerable or just ignorant (but open to being POLITELY corrected) :)

  39. I agree. straight across unless high security is needed for certain Military issues/depts. I think visitors should get a pass, return it coming out. a scanner of driver license, insurance and car should be enough for identity unless suspicious. If that pass is not returned, then disqualify entrance for 3-6 months first time and s on.

  40. We had a contractor steal a guy's combat boots in basic training at Lackland. Right from the barracks while we were at chow.

    What I don't understand is the use of contractors as gate guards. Used to be that Air Force bases had Security Forces at the gates. Now it's all these contractors!?

    (Especially at Fort Hood, which used to be an open Army post, which meant anyone could drive on and off and the gate was nothing but an entrance with no guards. After 9/11 they hired contractors.)

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