Military Base Visitor Background Check (Don’t Step on Base Before This)

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Background Checks | May 16, 2024

Military base visitor background check searching with a blue magnifying glass above a man who wonders how long a military base visitor background check will take as a military soldier standing to the right waits with hands on hips for background check online to clear on the computer screen in the middle.

Free Military Base Visitor Background Pre-Check
Military base visitor background pre-check searches all criminal and public records on file to show everything visible during a Military base visitor background check.

When someone is visiting a military base, for whatever reason, before they step past the barrier, they should prepare for a military base visitor background check.

Currently, the United States has approximately 5,000 military bases within its borders and 600 bases abroad. And, all those bases need not only military personnel to operate them, but also civilian contractors, workers, and other people to help them operate.

But, to operate these sensitive areas safely, a military base visitor must undergo an approval process that involves a detailed background check. This process was updated in recent years, and now all non Department of Defense (DoD) personnel must undergo a swift background check, which is very similar to the National firearm purchase background check process.

This is true for a one-day visitor and those who will be visiting or working on the base for an extended period of time.1

Knowing what’s involved can make the process much easier.

In fact, don’t step on base until you know what a military base visitor background check entails, because the list of checks is lengthy and there are many offenses that can disqualify a person from obtaining access to a military base, regardless of the reason.

As a precaution, running a background check on yourself first can help identify any offenses that can disqualify you from unrestricted military base access.

This guide outlines what will be checked and what will cause a red flag on a background check.

Military Base Access for Civilians (How To Get a Visitor Pass for a Military Base)

To go to any branch military base for a short, one-time visit there are specific requirements for identification:

  • Real ID (issued by the state, which contains a gold star seal) OR Second form of identification (such as a concealed carry permit)
  • CAC (common access card issued by the DoD)
  • Armed Forces ID (Either a DD form 2 or DD form 1173)
  • DEP Card (Delayed Entry/Enlistment Program/Participation)
  • Defense Commissary Agent ID
  • Local State, Federal, or Law enforcement ID
  • Gold Star Family ID
  • INS Form I-551 for Foreign Passports or I-94
  • Extended Pass by 733 SFS

All forms of identification (a REAL ID will have it) must include an expiration date and photo, and anyone over the age of 16 must have one.

It’s also important to note that contractors can’t escort anyone on base.

What Is a Military Base Visitor Pass Background Check? (Identity Matching Engine for Security and Analysis-IMESA)

To gain access to a military base, the Identity Matching Engine for Security and Analysis (IMESA) works a lot like the national instant background check system but also taps into the National Criminal Information Center Interstate Identification Index.

The idea is to prevent anyone who has committed certain criminal acts from gaining access to military bases.

All guests and uncleared contractors who want unescorted access to a military base and military facilities are identified and investigated by the National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification Index (NCIC III). This is a requirement of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 124 and Army Regulation 190-13. (NCIC III).5

NCIC III9 is the military base visitor background check for Non-Common Access Card or Non-DoD (Department of Defense) cardholders entering Army installations.

After passing this extensive background check, the person will be given an Access Badge. This recognition is only valid for access to the installation and must be presented to Installation Security personnel. It is not to be used for any other purpose than identification.1

How Long Does a Military Base Visitor Background Check Take?

In general, the background check system for military bases is nearly ‘instant.’ A person can expect to wait anywhere up to 10 minutes unless there are problems with the information entered.

What’s Included in a Background Check for Military Base Access?

Military base visitor background checks are among the most stringent because so many military positions involve sensitive info relevant to national security.

The military base visitor background check process is very detailed, especially if the role in question requires federal special permission (such as a security clearance background check).

Even if the position is entry-level and does not require a security clearance, the military will conduct a background check to ensure that the candidate is trustworthy, reliable, of good behavior and personality, and loyal to the United States.

Components of the Military Background Inspection

Often these military background checks consist of several components. The extent of the background investigation may differ depending on the position, as with any employer.

  • All military applicants or recruits will be required to complete a questionnaire detailing their background. Questions may range from criminal history to previous drug use. Refusal to answer any questions on this form will result in the elimination of job consideration.
  • Most military background screenings include a personal interview section where candidates can explain their questionnaire answers.
  • All federal employees, including military personnel, must be fingerprinted and inspected using the FBI criminal database, according to executive orders.
  • Depending on the job, additional background checks, including criminal history investigations, may be required. A drug test, for example, may be required as part of the background check process.

Information That’s Looked Into (Military Background Check Questions)

The most comprehensive military background checks are for positions requiring security clearances.6These screenings are time-consuming and involve numerous layers. These inspections include a criminal background check, which involves searching records with local law enforcement agencies in areas where an applicant or visitor has lived, worked, or gone to school in the previous decade.

An extensive interview segment is also included in security clearance background checks. The background check subject is not only interviewed personally, but the military also interviews the subject’s friends, spouse, employers, neighbors, educators, employers, and professional references.1

The following information is searched:

  • SSN Validation
  • Criminal Records
  • Financial Profile
  • Personal Information
  • Education & Employment Record
  • Driving Record (MVR Report)
  • Prior Service Profile (Military Background Check reports)

Once granted, security clearances typically last five to fifteen years, depending on the sensitivity of the classified information.

There are a number of levels of security clearance, and all of them have specific forms and processes involved.

What Prevents Access to Military Base Visitors?

There are specific crimes that prevent people from entering a military base. Typically, violation of protection orders, treason, sedition, and violence at airports are just a few of the crimes listed.

Moreover, if a person has two felonies at any time during their life, they will be prohibited from access.

Anyone who has an outstanding warrant will also be prohibited from entry.

How Far Back Does a Military Base Background Check Go?

Is it true that the military conducts a military base visitor background check? Yes. And the length of time that the check can go back depends on the level of security required for the person. A visitor pass typically checks the past five years.

For example, for someone who needs high-level security, the background check process can take months and include personal interviews. It can examine a person’s entire life.

For lower-level security approval, the background check will likely examine all adult records, but also may examine juvenile ones as well, depending on the situation.

But, regardless, the following areas will be examined on any military base background check. Here’s what they will look for on the check.2

SSN Verification

Needless to say, any military job will require a person to provide their social security number as well as their previous history as a US citizen. If the person fails this step, they will be disqualified from continuing with their Application.

Criminal History

The United States military makes every effort to hire men and women of the highest character. To that end, they search a person’s past records7 for convictions and non-convictions, emphasizing certain types of behavior over others.

Arrests, warrants, dismissed charges, and other occurrences that did not lead to a conviction are examples of non-convictions. It may or may not be a problem depending on the access desired and the age of their non-conviction.

Unless the person has a sealed or expunged non-conviction, one should be truthful about their criminal records.

Financial Data

A person’s financial and credit history can reveal a lot about their personality. They may be at a disadvantage if they have a history of bankruptcies and a low credit score when applying for confidential military positions. Moreover, indicators that one is smart with their money will help.

Another issue that may come up is their previous compliance with local and federal tax laws. If they are discovered to have previously evaded taxes, or if their US Army background check reveals assets they cannot explain, they may face difficulties with their application, and the government may also question them.

Education and Employment History

Speaking with a person’s previous employers and reviewing their educational history is another way to assess their desire to succeed, character, and history.

The army will typically stop at confirming the indicated credentials, but in some cases, they may go above and beyond by attempting to speak with important people from the person’s academic past.

Military Documents

Prior service is one of the few things that make appealing during a military background investigation unless the person was dishonorably discharged or has other discharges that aren’t exemplary.

Even better if they attained a respectable rank, worked for extended periods of time, have a family history of service, earned medals, or have prior campaign awards.

It is advantageous if they can obtain a personal reference from previous superior officers under whom they worked. Also, unless applying for an extremely high-ranking position, keep in mind that they must grant permission for this information to be made public during their application.

Businesses and Licenses

A specialist (or other) license can reflect well on a person’s character. Being a certified litigator or private detective, for example, demonstrates that they have the dedication, commitment, and self-discipline to serve the law.

The longer they have worked under their license, the better they will appear during the background investigation. This also applies to medical licenses.

Other licenses, such as gun permits and pilot licenses, can also enhance one’s appearance. For example, if they’ve had a gun license for a long time without incident, the army will know they can be trusted with weapons.

Personal Information

The army will almost always look at a person’s private information to get a sense of their previous behavior and overall character.

This begins with a search of their marriage records. If they are married to someone who has been found guilty of a crime or who is otherwise morally reprehensible or compromised, that is a strike against them.

So would be their own questionable actions, such as cheating or spouse abuse.

The same can be said for known associates and family. If they have regular dealings with someone of extremely dubious character, it may jeopardize their chances of getting the job.

How To Get a Visitor Pass for a Military Base (Military Base Access Requirements)

Visitors to military bases must have a REAL ID from their state or another form of identification,8 such as a U.S. passport or a Veteran’s health ID card, in addition to their driver’s license. Some military facilities mandate everyone in a vehicle to have an ID, whereas others only inspect the vehicle driver for a valid ID.

One must have a valid driver’s license, registration, and vehicle insurance information if they intend to drive on a military base.

The Division of Motor Vehicles issues a REAL ID, which looks like a driver’s license but has a gold star in the top right corner. The star implies that an individual has met the identification standards established by the Federal REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005 in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

A REAL ID will also allow a person to enter nuclear power plants and fly commercially.

If a person does not satisfy these military ID demands, they will be denied entry or must be escorted by a sponsor who does. All states are currently or will be REAL ID compliant by October 21, 2021, allowing anyone access to federal facilities and military bases.

If a person does not have a valid REAL ID or another state-issued ID and an escort, they must go to the guest center of the installation. Specific information for each military base can be found online under visitors’ information. No visitor may bring any weapons, contraband, or other questionable items from the vehicle into their possession, including alcohol.

A military base visitor background check can vary in degrees, but knowing what’s on the check beforehand can help eliminate some of the trepidation.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Military Base Visitor Background Check

Can You Visit a Military Base With a Misdemeanor?

The US government recently increased the number of checks performed on people who are a base in order to make these facilities safer for everybody. Nevertheless, if a person has been found guilty of a misdemeanor in the past, they may not be barred from entering a military base.

Will a Military Conviction Show Up on a Background Check?

Yes, a special forces felony conviction will be revealed in a military base visitor background check.

Are Military Bases Open to the Public?

Due to varying missions, training, events, and visitors, US military bases are a flurry of daily activity. While some events are free and open to the public, others require advanced planning.

What Disqualifies You From Getting on a Military Base?

Any person who has been prosecuted for a felony crime at any period.10 Anyone who has been convicted of a narcotics or drug charge within the last three years, or twice within the last five years. Anyone who has been prosecuted for a weapons-related offense once in the last three years or twice in the last ten years.

What Does the Military Look For in a Background Check?

Every applicant undergoes an FBI-style background check. Military personnel will ask applicants a set of questions regarding their backgrounds, such as whether they have used illegal drugs.3

Do Civilians Need To Show Id When Entering a Military Base?

All personnel 16 years of age and older attempting to enter the military base must show legitimate proof of identity: this is applicable to both military and civilian personnel.

Can Civilians Visit Military Bases?

Civilians can gain access to military bases if they are a husband or wife or completely reliant of a member of the military, or if they are financially supported by a service member. However, the policies differ from outpost to outpost.3

Denied Access To Military Base?

Any of the following can result in a person being denied access to a base: If they have previously been forcibly ejected from a military installation and asked not to come back. If they are currently on parole for a felony conviction. If they try to enter a base without authorization.

Who Is Not Allowed on Military Bases?

Anyone with more than two felonies on record, and civilians who pose a risk to the armed services on base will most likely be barred entry.3

Do Military Bases Check for Warrants?

Yes. All military base visitor background checks look for outstanding warrants and if they exist, that person will not be admitted, and will likely be held. When members of the defense community enter military installations, they are instantly inspected against the FBI’s criminal database and taken aside if the system detects a felony, an arrest, or an outstanding warrant.


1Can a Felon Get on a Military Base? (2022, 14 March). Felony Record Hub. <,access%20to%20the%20military%20base.>

2Military Background Check: What a US Army Background Check Shows? (2021, 26 September). Addictive Tips. <>

3Can I Get a Military ID With a Felony Conviction? (2020, 19 November). Military.Com. <>

4Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12: Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors. (2022). Retrieved June 04, 2022, from <>

5The Army Physical Security Program. (2022). The Army Physical Security Program. Retrieved June 04, 2022, from <>

6Military Operations: Background Screenings of Contractor Employees. (2022). Military Operations: Background Screenings of Contractor Employees. Retrieved June 04, 2022, from <>

7 Background Checks: What You Need To Know. (2022). Retrieved June 04, 2022, from <>

8News Releases. (2022). Retrieved June 04, 2022, from <>

9Interstate Identification Index (III) National Fingerprint File (NFF). (2022). Retrieved June 04, 2022, from < print-file-nff>

10Security / Base Clearance. (2017). Imagine Andrews Public Charter School. Retrieved June 04, 2022, from < d%20of%20a,in%20the%20past%2010%20years.>

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