Replacement Dog Tags

Replacing Dog Tags –What You Need to Know Before Buying

I frequently receive inquiries from veterans who wish to replace their lost identification tags (also known as dog tags), or from family members who wish to get replacement dog tags for their loved ones, either as a gift, or to remember their service. These are all great reasons to get a new set of dog tags.

If you are still serving in the military, you can get a set of dog tags issued to you. Otherwise, you will need to purchase dog tags from a third party vendor. This guide will show you what you need to know about purchasing replacement dog tags.

The Purpose of Dog Tags

In life, and in death, people want to be identified and remembered. Soldiers have used variations of dog tags and similar means of identification for hundreds of years. They were first used by US service members in the Civil War, when soldiers would scratch their names and hometowns on the backs of their belt buckles or other gear. Informal identification badges soon became popular, and soldiers used a variety of pins, tags, medallions, or other objects in which they engraved their names, hometown, battles they fought in, and other information.

Dog tags weren’t standardized by the US Army until the early 1900’s, when the War Department authorized identification tags in War Department General Order No. 204. It was in WWI that soldiers were first issued two identification tags. The tags included various information, often including the member’s name, rank, serial number, company, regiment, or corps. It was in WWII that dog tags earned their nickname, due to resembling dog registration tags required by many municipalities (the official name for dog tags is actually identification tags; the term dog tag is not officially recognized, though it is more widely used).

Through the years, the purpose has remained the same, while other features have changed, including their shape, size, the information on them, and the material they are made from. Information that has been included in dog tags through the years could include serial numbers, next of kin contact information, immunizations, and more. Today’s dog tags are made from material that is durable, but that will not rust or corrode from normal wear and tear.

Information Found on Today’s Dog Tag

Today, dog tags issued by the US military include the service member’s Name, Branch of Service (all except Army), Serial Number (often Social Security Number, or DoD ID Number), Blood Type, and Religious Preference (if any). This information is the most essential information needed on the battlefield.

Note: as of early2016, the Army is the only branch that has gone away from the Social Security Number on dog tags. They started using the DoD ID Number in Nov. 2015.

The information on dog tags should be protected because having the name and Social Security number is enough for many people to steal the service member’s identity. Identity theft is a big problem, not just for service members, but for everyone.

Why the History Lesson?

It’s important to understand the purpose of dog tags and the information they contain before ordering a replacement set of dog tags. If you are currently serving in the military and need a replacement set, you can get them issued at no cost. Contact your personnel unit and they can issue them to you or tell you where you can get a set issued. These should only be used in the line of duty. Don’t hang them from the mirror on your car or display them at home. There is no need, and displaying your personal information is not only unnecessary, but potentially harmful.

Dog Tag Styles

The last are of consideration is the style of the dog tags. Styles and methods have changed through the years. Many stores are able to make dog tags in a variety of styles, including those used through the major military eras. In many cases, websites make it easy to order a dog tag based on the era served, including WWII, Korea War, Vietnam era, and the current style. Be sure to specify the style you want when you place your order.

Where to Order Dog Tags 

(Third Party Venders)