ALT FAQ

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Alternate Logon Token (ALT) Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains frequently asked questions and answers about using the Alternate Logon Token (ALT).

  1. How can I request a ne​w ALT Car​d?​
  2. Does m​y ALT ​card PIN expire?
  3. When does my ALT​ card certificate expire?
  4. What should I do if my ALT Card Certificate has expired?​
  5. How do I download my ALT certificate?
  6. Will I be notified via email when my ALT card is approved for pick up?
  7. Will I be notified via email when my ALT card certificate needs to be renewed?
  8. What should I do if my ALT is locked?
  9. What should I do if my ALT card is not working?
  10. What should I do if my ALT card is lost/stolen/broken?
  11. Do Mac users have to renew PIV card and ALT certificates on a PC?
  12. I renewed my PIV card certificate, what do I need to do with my ALT card certificate?
  13. I received a new PIV card (or RLA badge), how is my ALT card affected?
  14. What happens to my ALT card certificate if my PIV card certificate is renewed prior to its expiration?
  15. Can I request an ALT card with my primary NIH credentials (credentials to login to computers and email) if I have an active PIV card from another HHS Operating Division (OpDiv)? 
  16. What if I leave my IC or longer need an ALT card? 
  17. When does my ALT card need to be renewed versus recycled?
  18. What happens when my ALT card is recycled?
  19. What happens when my ALT card certificate is renewed?
  20. How does my IC request additional ALT card stock?
  21. How can I get additional Information and Assistance?

 


  • 1.​ H​ow can I request a new ALT Car​d​​

  • Due to the implementation of the NIH PAM Service, a service to centrally secure, manage and monitor privileged accounts at NIH, new Secondary (AA) accounts will no longer automatically be sponsored for a new ALT Card using Active Directory Manager (ADM). To obtain an ALT Card, the Secondary (AA) account holder must complete the following steps to request a new ALT Card:

  • 1. Submit a Service Desk Ticket to the CIT_OITSM_IAMS_A​LTCARD assignment group
  • 2. In the detailed description, state Request a new ALT Card and include your HHSID number (a 10-digit number on the back of your PIV ​card under "Personal Identifier") and the ​account name associated with your ALT Card (e.g. aadoej@nih.gov)​​

  • You can also call NIH IT Service Desk to submit a request on your behalf. Please see contact information​ below:

  • 301-496-4357 (local)​
  • 866-319-4357 (toll free)
  • 301-496-8294 (TTY)

  • Note: In order to receive an ALT Card, individuals must also have an active HHS ID Badge (PIV or RLA).

    ​ ​

    2. Does my ALT card PIN expire?

    ​​No, but please read below regarding ALT card certificate expiration.

    ​​​

    3.  When does my ALT card certificate expire?

    ​​If you are a federal contractor, your ALT card certificate is set to expire one year from the most recent issuance date OR on the date that your PIV card expires, whichever date comes first.

    If you are a federal employee, your ALT card certificate is set to expire 3 years from the most recent issuance date OR on the date that your PIV card expires, whichever date comes first.

    Note: Your ALT card certificate expiration date cannot currently exceed the expiration date on your PIV card.

    4.  What should I do if my ALT Card Certificate has expired?

    If you received an email notice that your ALT card certificate was queued for a renewal, but you failed to renew your ALT certificate prior to expiration, you must go to a Lifecycle Work Station (LWS) to renew your ALT card certificate. (You do not need to go to the NIH Badging Office.) You cannot use the Access Card Utility (ACU)  on your PC to renew your ALT card certificate if the certificate has expired.

    If you did not receive an email notice that your ALT card certificate was queued for a renewal prior to it expiring, please complete the following steps to have your ALT card queued for a renewal:

    1. Send a request to your ALT card Distributor to create a Service Desk Ticket
    2. Request that the ticket is classified as Existing Account Change or Modification
    3. In the Detailed Description, state Queue ALT card for a renewal and include your HHSID number (a 10-digit number on the back of your PIV card under “Personal Identifier") and the account name associated with your ALT card (e.g., aadoej@nih.gov).

    5. How do I download my ALT certificate?

    After you have obtained an ALT card from your IC's ALT Distributor, the Access Card Utility (ACU) (Windows only) is the recommended method to download the certificate onto your ALT card.  Refer to the knowledge base article on using the ACU for ALT (Alternate Logon Token) Cards for instructions.  If you cannot use the ACU, you may download your ALT card certificate at a Lifecycle Work Station (LWS).

     

    Individuals who are in a remote location ​may be mailed a blank ALT card and download the certificate using the ACU (mentioned above).

     

    Note: An individual is required to have a Windows computer, the ACU software (which requires ActivClient software), and access to the NIH VPN to be able to download the certificate.


     

    ​​6. ​Will I be notified via email when my ALT card is approved for pick up?

    Yes, you will receive an email notification from HHSIdentity (donotreply@hhs.gov) when your ALT card is ready to pick up.This email will also provide instructions to download your certificates. Here's the sample email:

    Dear XXXX,

    You have been approved for an Alternate Logon Token (ALT).  The ALT is a smartcard used to authenticate to your NIH Secondary account.  Please visit an ALT Distributor in your IC (refer to: https://ocio.nih.gov/Smartcard/Pages/ALTdistributors.aspx) to pick up your ALT and download your ALT certificate.  If your ALT token is not collected and certificates are not downloaded within 30 days, your NIH Secondary account will be disabled and scheduled for deletion.

    For instructions on how to download your ALT certificate using the Access Card Utility (ACU) for Windows, refer to this page in the NIH IT Knowledge Base (login required): https://myitsm.nih.gov/kb_view.do?sysparm_article=KB0012366.

    For additional information about ALT, refer to: https://ocio.nih.gov/Smartcard/Pages/ALT.aspx.

    7​. Will I be notified via email when my ALT card certificate needs to be renewed?

    Yes, you will receive an email notification from HHSIdentity (donotreply@hhs.gov) 42 days prior to their certificate expiration. Subsequent email notifications will be sent every 7 days prior to certificate expiration. This email will also provide instructions on renewing certificates. Here's the sample email:

    Dear XXXX,

     You are now approved to renew the digital certificate on your Alternate Logon Token (ALT).  Please follow the steps below to do so before Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 10:59 PM EST, when your current ALT certificate expires.  Please note that if you also have a pending renewal on your primary PIV card, you must renew your PIV before renewing your ALT certificates.

     As a reminder, the ALT is a smart card issued to NIH Secondary (AA) account holders, used to log into their Secondary account.

    For identification purposes, the following serial number should be printed on the back of your ALT card: 00000000000

     To renew your ALT certificate, please follow the step-by-step instructions on the NIH Smart Card website: https://ocio.nih.gov/smartcard/pages/acuinfo.aspx.

     For more information on the Alternate Logon Token (ALT), please visit: https://ocio.nih.gov/Smartcard/Pages/ALT.aspx

     If you no longer need your Secondary account, please follow these instructions on the NIH Smart Card website to return your ALT card and have your Secondary accounts deleted: https://ocio.nih.gov/Smartcard/Pages/ALT.aspx#leave  

    If you are unable to resolve your problem, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk for further assistance.

    8. What should I do if my ALT is locked?

    If you enter your PIN incorrectly 10 times in a row, your ALT card will be locked.  You must go to a Lifecycle Work Station (LWS) to reset your PIN.

      

    9. What should​ I do if my ALT card is not working?

    First, examine your ALT card certificate. Using Internet Explorer (IE) on Windows:

    1. Tools -> Internet Options -> Content -> Certificates -> Personal
    2. Select your ALT card certificate, which has a “–A#" (where # is a digit) after your name.  Be sure to select the certificate with the latest expiration date; make sure the expiration date has not passed.
    3. Select Details, then scroll down and select “Subject Alternative Name"; check to make sure the Principal Name shows your account name, e.g., aadoej@nih.gov.

    If everything appears correct, follow the normal smart card Trouble Shooting procedures.

    10. What should I do if my ALT card is lost/stolen/broken?

    You will need to submit a NIH IT Service Desk ticket reporting that your ALT card is lost/stolen/broken. The Service Desk ticket must include your HHSID number (a 10-digit number on the back of your PIV card under “Personal Identifier”) and the account name associated with your ALT card (e.g., aadoej@nih.gov).  You will receive an email when your new ALT card is ready to be issued, and then you must visit your ALT Distributor to pick up a new ALT card.

     

    11. Do Mac users have to renew PIV card and ALT certificates on a PC?

    No.  Though Access Card Utility (ACU)  cannot be used on a Mac (it only works on Windows computers), Mac users can visit a Lifecycle Work Station (LWS) to renew their PIV and/or ALT certificates.

     

    12. I renewed my PIV card certificate, what do I need to do with my ALT card certificate?

    No action is needed. Your ALT card is not impacted when you renew the certificate on your PIV card. However, if your PIV card is renewed, you will need to renew the ALT card.

     

    13. I received a new PIV card (or RLA badge), how is my ALT card affected?

    If you receive a new PIV card (e.g., your PIV card expired, or you had to replace a lost, stolen, broken PIV card), your ALT card will be automatically terminated (due to your ALT card certificate being linked to your PIV card certificate).

     

    14. What happens to my ALT card certificate if my PIV card certificate is renewed prior to its expiration?

    If your PIV card certificate is renewed prior to its expiration, you will need to renew your ALT card certificate after receiving your new PIV card. This will ensure that your ALT card expiration date is extended to correspond with your new PIV card expiration date.

    15. Can I request an ALT card with my primary NIH credentials (credentials to login to computers and email) if I have an active PIV card from another HHS Operating Division (OpDiv)? 

    Yes, you can request an ALT card with your NIH Primary credentials (credentials to login to computers and email) to access NIH systems. See below the steps to request ALT card with Primary Credentials:

    1. Send a request to your ALT card Distributor to create a Service Desk Ticket
    2. Request that the ticket is classified as New Account
    3. In the Detailed Description, state Request ALT card with Primary Credentials and include your HHSID number (a 10-digit number on the back of your PIV card under “Personal Identifier") and the account name associated with your ALT card (e.g., doej@nih.gov).

    16. What if I leave my IC or longer need an ALT card?

    When you leave NIH or you no longer need your Secondary (AA) account, you must return your ALT card to your IC’s ALT Distributor.

    If you transfer to another IC, you must return your ALT card to your old IC’s ALT Distributor even if you will need a Secondary (AA) account.  You must reapply for a Secondary (AA) account in your new IC, and your new IC will provide you with a new ALT card.

    17. When does my ALT card need to be renewed versus recycled?

    Your ALT card needs to be renewed under the following scenarios:

    • If the ALT certificates have expired or are about to be expired;
    • If you receive a new PIV card

      If the existing certificate on your ALT card needs to be cleared or your ALT card does not work, then your ALT card needs to be recycled.

    18. What happens when my ALT card is recycled?

    When your ALT card is recycled, your ALT card certificate is removed from the card.  This allows the blank ALT card to be given to someone else.

    If your ALT card was accidentally recycled, you will need to submit a NIH IT Service Desk ticket to have your account re-queued for a new ALT card. The Service Desk ticket should include your HHSID number (a 10-digit number on the back of your PIV card under “Personal Identifier”) and the account name associated with your ALT card (e.g., aadoej@nih.gov).  You may re-use the recycled ALT card and download your ALT card certificate using the Access Card Utility (ACU) or LWS once your request is processed.

    19. What happens when my ALT card certificate is renewed?

    If you are a contractor, your ALT card is renewed for 1 year, or the date the certificates on your PIV card expire, whichever comes first.  If you are a federal employee, your ALT card is renewed for 3 years, or the date the certificates on your PIV card expire, whichever comes first.

    When your ALT card certificate is renewed, the expiration date for your ALT card certificate is updated to match the PIV card certificate expiration date.

    Note: Your ALT card certificate expiration date cannot exceed the PIV card expiration date.

    20. How does my IC request additional ALT card stock?

    Your IC's ALT card Coordinator must reach out to Facility Access Control (FacilityAccessControl@mail.nih.gov).  In the request, please include the amount of card stock needed, the reason for your request, and attach your IC's ALT tracking spreadsheet.  If you are an individual that needs an ALT card, please reach out to one of your IC's ALT Distributors.

    For more information, please visit the link: https://auth.ocio.nih.gov/Smartcard/Documents/ALT_Coordinator_Distributor_Guidance.pdf

    21. How can I get additional Information and Assistance?

    You can get additional information by visiting the link: https://ocio.nih.gov/Smartcard/Pages/ALT.aspx

    For questions or user support, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk.