The state of Illinois offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the past, or are current active military members.
Reduced fee license plate
While Illinois does not offer a veteran-specific vehicle registration benefit, they do offer a discount on license plate fees to those 65 and older, or totally disabled persons 16 and older, including military veterans. The discount is offered through the state’s Benefit Access Program, and allows aged or disabled citizens to purchase a new plate or renewal tag for $24. You must be an Illinois resident at time of application, and meet the following income requirements:
- One-person household: $27,610
- Two-person household: $36,635
- Three-person household: $45,657
You must have been determined totally and permanently disabled by one of the following:
- The Social Security Administration
- The Veterans Administration
- Civil Service
- Railroad Retirement
Or have a:
- Class 2 disability card from the Illinois Secretary of State
- Completed Attachment A Physician’s Statement
You can file an application for the Benefit Access Program here.
Driver’s license veteran designation
Illinois veterans are eligible for a veteran designation on a driver license or state ID card. In order to qualify, you must submit a Consent to Release of Information along with a DD 214 or NAF 13038, or a copy of your driver license or ID card to a local veteran service officer:
Fax: (217) 782-4161
Mailing address: Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, PO Box 19432 (Attn: DL Cert), 833 S. Spring St., Springfield, IL 62794-9432
Once the IDVA certifies your discharge document and mails it back to you, you may apply at the SOS for a new, renewal, or updated license. There is no additional fee for the designation if you’re renewing or getting a new license/ID card, however if you wish to update before your renewal date, there is a $5 fee for a license and $10 fee for an ID card.
Military honor plates
Illinois offers a wide variety of distinguished military honor license plates commemorating the different military branches, service medals, specific campaigns, and individual battles. Eligibility for each of these plates requires certain criteria be met, including proof of current or past military service (honorable discharge), proof of having participated in a specific battle, or discharge papers or U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs documentation of the award received.
Standard registration fees apply to most military plates, however there are certain plates which are free of charge for vehicles that are already titled and for renewals, such as Ex-Prisoner of War, and Congressional Medal of Honor. You can find a full listing of plates here. Click on each plate individually to determine whether it is eligible for the reduced Benefit Access Program fee.
Military skills test waiver
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created a provision for the purpose of allowing SDLAs (State Driver Licensing Agencies) to let veterans and military personnel with commercial driving experience in the course of their service to skip the CDL skills test. In order to qualify for this forbearance, you must apply within 12 months of discharge from a military position which required you to operate a commercial vehicle. In addition, you must have had two years of such experience, and meet certain other criteria, such as a lack of specific types of motor vehicle offenses.
You can find the federal government’s standard waiver form here. Some states provide their own form so check with your local driver license agency for information. You must still take the written CDL test.
Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012
This act gives states the authority to issue a CDL to active service personnel, including members of the Reserves, National Guard, Coast Guard, or Coast Guard Auxiliary, even if Illinois is not their home state, as long as their temporary or permanent base is in the state.
Driver license renewal while deployed
Illinois offers driver license expiration deferment for up to 120 days after discharge or reassignment, for those stationed outside of the state during expiration, as well as their spouse and children. You can get a Military Deferral Certificate by mailing a copy of your driver license and the front and back of your military ID card to:
Secretary of State
License and Medical Review Unit
2701 S. Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62723
Service members should follow standard vehicle registration procedures. You may be eligible to renew online – there are instructions for doing so here
Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration
Illinois honors out-of-state driver’s licenses and vehicle registration for non-resident military stationed within the state.
Active or veteran military personnel can read more at the state’s motor vehicle division website here.