What You Need to Use Your Smart Card

To use your smart card (e.g.,PIV card) to log in to your computer, send/read secure email or digitally sign documents, you will need the following:

Your PIV Card (HHS ID Badge)

You will need to have your PIV card (HHS ID Badge) to log in. Visit the DPSAC website at http://idbadge.nih.gov for information about your PIV care (HHS ID Badge).

A Smart Card Reader

A smart card reader is the device that enables your computer to connect to the computer chip on your smart card. Your reader might be built into your computer, or it might be a separate device plugged into a USB port. When you insert your smart card into the reader, the photo should be facing up and the end with the gold computer chip should be inserted into the reader.

If you do not have a smart card reader or need assistance in using your reader, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk.

Smart Card Software

Smart card software is middleware that enables computer applications to talk to and access the information on your smart card's computer chip. Some operating systems (e.g., Windows 7, Mac OS 10.6.3 - but not 10.7) already have this capability built-in.

If you need assistance to determine if you have, or need to obtain smart card middleware, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk.

Your PIN for your PIV Card (HHS ID Badge)

Your PIN is a six to eight digit number that you created when you first received your PIV card (HHS ID Badge).

If you do not remember your PIN, you will need to reset your PIN.

Active (not expired) digital certificates

To work, your digital certificates must be current (i.e., have not expired). Note that your digital certificates expire earlier than the expiration date printed on your PIV card.  To check the expiration date of your certificates:

  1. Insert your HHS ID Badge (PIV) into your Smart Card reader and open a session of Internet Explorer (IE).
  2. Under the Tools menu, select Internet Options, then in the options window, select the Content tab, then select Certificates.
  3. On the Personal tab, you will be able to view your digital certificates and their expiration date.

If you have multiple sets of certificates, with different expiration dates, please follow the Instructions for removing old certificates.

If your certificates have expired, you will need to renew your digital certificates.

Information and Assistance

For additional information, search the NIH IT Knowledge Base for tutorials, instruction sheets and user guides or refer to the appropriate How-To Guide.

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