How to Enroll Your Newborn in DEERS

Written by: Tom Jackson

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Welcoming a newborn to your family is one of the happiest events you experience as a parent. From that day forward, you want the best life and health for your new child. And signing up your infant son or daughter for the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is one of the best decisions you can make while they’re so young.

DEERS enables them to receive many military benefits until they become adults. But how soon should you enroll them in DEERS, and what are the right steps to maximize coverage for their entire childhood?

Why Should You Enroll Your Newborn in DEERS?

One of the major benefits of military service is that your healthcare benefits extend to your children under the TRICARE program. To extend the benefits, you must enroll your child in DEERS within a specific time. Once enrolled, children get quality medical insurance coverage until they turn 21 (or older, in some cases).

With everything you’re doing — and already have done — for the country, you deserve the financial protection and peace of mind that TRICARE provides if your children get sick. It comes in handy when they need regular pediatric checkups in their first year of life. Registering your kids with DEERS takes care of that with one of the best medical insurance policies anywhere — more affordable and better than almost every civilian policy on the market.

The quality of the insurance comes into play as your children grow and become more active. As a parent responsible for paying for your kids’ well-being, your out-of-pocket medical expenses will be minimal throughout their childhood. Get the most important military benefits for the children of active and retired service members as soon as you can. If you wait, your kids can get their TRICARE coverage denied and have medical claims rejected.

Established by the U.S. government, TRICARE covers medical expenses for active-duty and retired members of the military and their families. Children that are eligible for DEERS-linked TRICARE coverage include:

  • Your biological newborn, even if you’re a single parent, divorced, etc.
  • Adopted children
  • Stepchildren


TRICARE blends the military health system with a large network of non-military healthcare providers, including doctors, minute clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. It is a fee-for-service insurance plan that covers nearly 10 million current and former servicemen and women across the globe.

Fees, copays and out-of-pocket costs under TRICARE vary from person to person. TRICARE has an annual enrollment period in November and December, the only time you can register for it unless you have a qualifying life event (marriage, divorce, newborn, etc.).

As a new military parent, you may be concerned that you haven’t got all the paperwork ready to sign up your child for DEERS right away. The good news is that your newborn is automatically eligible for TRICARE Prime insurance for the first two months after birth. During the 60-day window, your child will be able to access TRICARE benefits, provided that you’re already covered.

However, your infant will lose TRICARE Prime eligibility if you haven’t updated the paternity in the DEERS database after 60 days. From then on, your child will be covered under TRICARE Standard, a lower-tier plan. It’s still important to enroll your child in DEERS and TRICARE Prime before their first birthday. After 365 days, the Standard plan will expire and you might face a medical coverage gap for your little one.

DEERS Enrollment for Newborns

Your family status changes when you become a new parent. Updating your information accordingly in DEERS is the first step toward guaranteeing maximum TRICARE coverage for your newborn. To avoid any coverage gaps, it’s best to complete the registration process within 90 days if you live in the states or 120 days if you’re based overseas.

To enroll your child in DEERS:

  • Provide proof of your child’s “live birth” in person or by mail to your DEERS office. You can do this with a copy of the child’s birth certificate.
  • Apply for your newborn’s Social Security number (SSN) online at by visiting the Social Security Administration’s website. (You can call the Social Security Administration office at 800-772-1213 to get started.)
  • Get your newborn’s temporary identification number pending issuance of a SSN.
  • Update your child’s SSN with DEERS.

Required Documents for Newborn DEERS Enrollment

All branches of the military require certain documents to be updated in DEERS to show the arrival of your child or changes in the marital status of the child’s military parent. Required paperwork must show:

  • An original “live birth” certificate in person or mail a certified copy of the same along with a notarized DD Form 1172-2, If your child was born in the United States.
  • A Consular Report of Birth Abroad through DS Form FS-240, if your child was born overseas.
  • Your child’s original Social Security card, which must be provided within 90 days of birth.
  • Your marriage certificate if you’re recently married and your spouse isn’t in DEERS.
  • Two valid IDs for yourself, including a photo ID, if you’re the child’s sponsor.

Other Benefits of DEERS

Besides medical coverage through TRICARE, U.S. military communities enjoy perks usually unavailable to civilians. If you’re a service member, getting a dependent ID for your spouse or newborn lets them share your many military benefits.

And it often starts with DEERS registration. That allows the U.S. Department of Defense to identify the loved ones in your life and get them access to multiple on- and off-base privileges. Perks include:

  • Discount/tax-free shopping: If your family is registered in DEERS, immediate family members don’t have to wait for holidays or clearance promotions to purchase items at a discount. Having a dependent ID gives them access to on-base commissaries and stores offering tax-free shopping and exclusive discounts year-round. From groceries to electronics, your loved ones can save significant money on most consumer products.
  • Life insurance: Immediate family members are primary beneficiaries of your life insurance policy. This coverage protects your spouse and kids from financial peril if you pass away. This is a major reason to enroll your dependents in DEERS.
  • Education: Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, military members and their spouses can access a government-sponsored education for up to 15 years after retirement or release from active service. DEERS-registered children can use these benefits until they turn 26.
  • Welfare and recreation: By showing a dependent ID, spouses and children of military personnel can enjoy fun activities on base. Bowling alleys, movie theaters and morale-boosting events are some of the attractions exclusively available to DEERS members.
  • Military-sponsored visas: When you’re permanently deployed abroad, you may want your family to visit or even live with you away from home. You can get your wife and kids military-backed visas if they’re enrolled in DEERS. With enrollment, your spouse might work legally in your country of deployment.  

FAQs About Enrolling Newborns in DEERS

What documentation is required for parents who are not married?

A single military mother or father can enroll a newborn in DEERS by supplying their child’s live birth certificate. But a single civilian mom of a child with a military father requires more documentation to verify the child’s paternity. One option is for the father (sponsor) to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity and use the document to enroll their child.

If a military father doesn’t acknowledge paternity of the child, the mother can seek a court order to establish paternity. She would have to present the order and the child’s birth certificate to a local DEERS office. In any scenario in which the paternity of a child is contested, the military requires more than a DNA report to certify a child’s identity and parents.

Who can add a newborn to DEERS?

Any eligible parent or legal guardian can add a child to DEERS as long as they have the right paperwork. The privilege of DEERS automatically goes to a child’s sponsor (military father or mother). Someone who has a Power of Attorney (POA) can also enroll a newborn in DEERS. A POA allows someone to act on behalf of the sponsor. However, non-sponsor single moms or dads can’t enroll their eligible children in DEERS by themselves. They can request the DEERS office to have the child’s military parent start the process.

Is my newborn automatically covered by TRICARE Prime?

TRICARE Prime automatically covers your newborn’s medical expenses for the first two months of life. But coverage only applies to families already covered by TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Prime Remote. If you’re not covered by either of the two medical policies, remember that DEERS enrollment isn’t automatic. You must register your newborn in the military database, or any TRICARE coverage will expire when your child turns 1.

About The Author

Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson focuses on writing about debt solutions for consumers struggling to make ends meet. His background includes time as a columnist for newspapers in Washington D.C., Tampa and Sacramento, Calif., where he reported and commented on everything from city and state budgets to the marketing of local businesses and how the business of professional sports impacts a city. Along the way, he has racked up state and national awards for writing, editing and design. Tom’s blogging on the 2016 election won a pair of top honors from the Florida Press Club. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife of 40 years, college-age son, and Spencer, a yappy Shetland sheepdog.


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