What is a tribal ID card, and why would I need it?

Tribal identification (ID) cards are issued by tribes as proof of your enrollment and membership in the tribe.

A federally-recognized, tribal-issued ID card is also a valid form of government-issued photo identification in many places, though some places may be unaware of this. For example, a tribal ID card is valid at federal buildings, airports, and banks.[3379] It is also proof of eligibility for certain services such as the federal Indian Health Service; it allows you to opt out of Covered California (meaning, you can get an exemption from the tax penalty under “Obamacare”);[3380] and it can be used to prove your identification for the California LifeLine cell phone program (learn more about the program on PG. 501).[3381]

Note, however, that a tribal ID card is not valid proof of identity for every purpose , so you may want to check before relying exclusively on a tribal ID for any purpose.

  1. 3379

    See e.g., Transportation Security Administration, Identification, https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.

  2. 3380

    See Covered California, “Tax Penalty Details and Exemptions,” http://www.coveredca.com/individuals-and-families/getting-covered/tax-penalty-details-and-exemptions/; Covered California for American Indians, http://hbex.coveredca.com/tribal-consultation/PDFs/Covered%20California%20for%20American%20Indians__PPT%20Final.pdf.

  3. 3381

    See California LifeLine Program, “Checking Your Identity,” https://www.californialifeline.com/en/id_check.