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Dog Tags in Different Countries

Dog Tags in Different Countries

The global need for dog tags arose due to the critical issue of identifying soldiers during wartime. As a practical solution to this problem, various countries adopted their own unique style of dog tags, each inscribed with different sets of information.


austria military dog tag

Dog tags used by the Austrian army are long and rectangular with oval ends. The tags have the blood group and the Rh factor of the soldier stamped on it. It also has the ID number written on it underneath. The Austrian dog tag has holes in it so that it can be broken into two pieces.


Australia military dog tags

The Australian army issues two dog tags. One is circular in shape and the other one is octagonal shaped and bigger in size. Both the tags have the same information printed on them. In the case of casualty, the circular dog tag is removed from the body.

The information mentioned on these dog tags includes the service number allotted to the soldier. initials of the first name, the last name, religion and the blood group.


canada military dog tag

The Canadian army dog tags are called identity discs. They are designed in a way that they can be broken into two pieces. If the soldier dies, the lower half of the tag is returned to the National Defense Headquarters along with other personal documents.

The information written on the Canadian dog tags is the serial number of the soldier, the initial and surname, religion along with the blood group. The text ‘Do not remove’ is also written at the end.


china military dog tag

The Chinese army issues two rectangular dog tags which have information stamped on them. The information they carry include the full name, gender, date of birth, ID number, and blood type.


Denmark military dog tag

Dog tags issued by the Danish military are long and breakable in two halves. Both halves have the same information printed on them. Tags have the name, surname and the identity number on them. When a soldier dies, the lower half is kept and the upper half is returned with the body.


Finland military dog tag

A ‘tunneslevy’, the Finnish term for identification plate, is also designed to be broken into two when the soldier dies. It is made up of stainless steel and only has the identification number written on it. The tag also has a small tower stamped on the top half which has letters SF. On rare occasions, the letters FI are written on it. SF is the initial for Suomi Finland.


France military dog tag

The dog tags issued by the French army are rectangle and circular. They have the first name and the family name of the soldier, along with the identification number of the soldier written on it. Like other European country’s dog tags, the French dog tags also have holes in it. The holes were to break the tag into two halves when the soldier dies. Both the halves have the same information presented on it.


The German armed forces are called ‘Bundeswehr’. Bundeswehr is the name given to the unified forces of Germany and their civil administration authorities. The dog tags issued by the German authorities are oval shaped and have spaces between them so it can be broken into two at the time of soldier’s demise. There is information about the soldier written on both the sides of the tags. When broken into two, both the upper and lower parts of the tag contain identical information.

The information on both the sides of the tags is different from each other. On the front side, there are initials DEU for Deutschland imprinted. Historically, during World War II, the older tags had the initials GE for Germany . Then, there is space for specifying the gender of the soldier. Moreover, the religious affiliations of the soldiers are also mentioned. The letters used are ‘K’ or ‘RK’ is used for Roman Catholic, ‘O’ is used for Christian Orthodox, ‘JD’ for Jewish, ‘ISL’ for Islamic, and ‘E’ or ‘EV’ for Protestants. The religion space is left blank if there is no preference. The last space is for the service number designated to the soldier. It has the date of birth, followed by the last name initial, and then the five-digit number, according to the soldier’s administrative district.

The information on the back side is the blood group and the Rh factor of the soldier. There is also space for vaccination status and the year the soldier was immunized in.


The Hungarian army only issues tags to soldiers deployed outside the country. The tags are made out of steel and are designed diagonally. It is also perforated diagonally. When the soldier is killed during battle, it can be broken into two. The authorities keep one half as part of the records of the soldier, and the rest is attached to the body.

The information written on the tags are the words HUNGARIA, along with the identification number assigned to the soldier. In most cases, the blood group is also mentioned in it.


Israel dog tags

Historically, the Israeli army issued circular aluminum tags in pairs. The soldier wore them around their necks in a thread.

Now, Israeli Defense Forces issue three dog tags to every soldier. One is to be worn around the neck and the other two are kept in the boots of the soldier at all times. The tags are rectangular shaped and can be broken into two halves when required. The information they contain is the identity number, the first name and the surname of the soldier.


Japan dog tags

The unified military forces of Japan are called the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). The tags issued by the JSDF are somewhat similar to the tags issued the US forces. There are two rectangular shaped tags with oval ends with information presented on them. The information is marked through laser etching on all the tags.

The information on the tags is the first name and the second name of the soldier. After that, there is the identification number allotted to the soldier, followed by the blood type. On the tag, there is also the marking according to the particular force the soldier belongs to. The tags of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense force has the marking ‘JAPAN GSDF’ on them. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s markings are  ‘JAPAN MSDF’. Japan Air Self-Defense Force has ‘JAPAN ASDF’ engraved on their dog tags. The information engraved on the tags remains the same across the forces. However, the order of it changes a little.


rantai askar malaysia

In Malaysia, the armed forces issue two similar, oval shaped dog tags to the soldiers. In addition to the tags, soldiers may also wear a tag on the wrists and wear a pendant around the neck that signals the religion of the respective soldier. On the tag, a NRIC number is written. The male members have a number that ends in an odd number and the female members have numbers that end with an even number. Then there is a service number, followed by full name of the soldier, the blood type, religion and the branch the soldier serves in.

The funeral services of the soldier are arranged with respect to the soldier’s religion.

The Netherland

Netherlands military dog tags

Like other countries, the tags issued by Netherland’s army are also broken into two halves, in case of a casualty. The lower half is kept in the records of the Dutch army and the upper half is kept with the body and returned.

The information on the tag consists of the first name and the last name. It is followed by the service number. In the Dutch army, the service number of the army and the navy are different. The service numbers of the army are the date of birth followed by three digits. In the navy, service numbers are allotted as six random digits. After the service number, the religion, nationality and the blood group of the soldiers are mentioned. Both the halves are identical when broken.


Polish military dog tag

The Poland army first issued the dog tags in the year 1920. At that time, the tags were called ‘kapsel legitymacyjny’ that translated to ‘identification cap’ in English. They were made up of tin in rectangular frame with a cap that could fit into it. The details of the soldiers were written on a small paper that acted as the ID card and was placed inside the frame. In case of a casualty, the frame remained with the body and other components were returned to the authorities.

The modification to these tags came in the year 1928 when the new design was proposed. The new design was similar to other tags that are perforated from the middle to be broken when the soldier dies. The tag had the same information on both the halves of the tags. The new designs were oval with a notch at both ends, made up of steel or aluminum alloy. The design was adopted in 1931 by the army. The same design, with few modifications and refinements, is still being used today.

The information printed on the tag was the name, surname, the ID number assigned to the soldier, and the blood type of the soldier. The tags had a polish emblem of the white eagle on them, along with the words ‘Siły Zbrojne RP’, which means the Polish army.

Russian Federation

Russian dog tags

The Russian Federation army uses simple oval-shaped dog tags for their soldiers. The metallic dog tags are inscribed with ‘Armed Forces of Russia’ in Russian language. Moreover, the alphanumeric number assigned to individuals is written under it.


Singapore dog tags

The dog tags issued by the Singaporean armed forces have information that is inscribed in them. The forces issue two tags to every soldier. One is oval with two holes, one at each end, and the other one is a round tag with a single hole in it. Both the tags are worn together by the soldier around their neck. The circular tag is attached to the main loop.

The Singaporean military tags have the NRIC number of the soldier followed by the blood type, religion and any drug allergies that are important to be noted.

South Korea

The South Korean army issues two rectangular shaped tags that are oval at the ends. The tags are to be worn around the neck at all times the soldier is on duty. It has information printed in the Korean language.

The information it contains is the branch of the armed forces the soldier belongs to. There is army, navy, marines, and the air force. It is followed by a ten-digit numerical number that is assigned to every soldier. The first two digits are the year of joining the force and the rest are the number allotted to the soldier. After that, the name and blood type are mentioned on the tags.


Swiss army dog tags

The military tags issued by the Swiss armed forces are an oval shaped metallic plate. The information presented on the tags is the social insurance number of the soldier. The surname and the first name, followed by the date of birth of the soldier are written after that. On the backside, the letters CH are engraved. CH stands for Confoederatio Helvetica. Moreover, Switzerland’s famous Red Cross is also engraved next to it.

United Kingdom

united kingdom dog tag

During World War I and II, the armed forces in Britain used to issue two dog tags. One was an octagonal tag and the other one was a red circular shaped tag. The tags were hand-stamped with the information presented on it. It had the surname, religion, and the service number on it. The old tags were discontinued in 1960 with oval-shaped steel tags replacing them.

Now, in the United Kingdom, the dog tags issued by Britain’s armed forces are metallic and circular in shape. They are issued in pairs, each with a different length of chain with it. The longer chain is for wearing it around the neck and the smaller chain is to be kept in the boots. The information engraved on them is the blood type, service number, last name and the initial of the first name of the soldier. The gender is abbreviated with either M or F. There is also a section for religion. If the soldier belongs to the Royal Air Force, then RAF is mentioned on the tags.


United States

United states dog tags

The military dog tags issued in the United States are rectangular and ovals at the end. The text is both embossed and debussed, depending on the facility they were issued at. The armed forces are issued identical pairs of tags and when the soldier dies, one is kept and the other is returned with the body. The information on tags provided across the forces is similar, with a few changes of order in them. They have the last name of the soldier, followed by the first name and the middle initial. After that, the social security number is mentioned. The social security number is continued with the code for the respective force the soldier belongs to. The tags from US Air Force will have ‘AF’ written along with the branch name. US Marine Corps have USMC inscribed on them followed by the size for the gas mark the soldier requires. US Navy has ‘USN’ written on them after the social security number. The US Army tags have the department issued ID number written on them, instead of social security number. The US Coast Guard tags are followed by ‘USCG’ after the social security number. Moreover, the tags also have the blood type mentioned and the religion of the soldier.