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Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card


A Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card is a smart card issued by the U.S. federal government, used for granting security access and verifying employees’ or contractors’ identities. The PIV Card contains personal and biometric information, including a photograph, fingerprint data, and a digital signature. This facilitates secure access to federal facilities and information technology systems, enhancing overall security and reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Key Takeaways

  1. Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card is a secure and reliable form of identification issued to eligible VA beneficiaries, providing access to federal facilities and information systems.
  2. The PIV Card establishes a strong link between an individual’s identity and the card itself, using biometric data and cryptographic features, ensuring the security and protection of personal information.
  3. VA benefit recipients are required to complete a background check and follow strict procedures for obtaining, activating, and maintaining their PIV Card to maintain secure access to benefits and services.


The Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card is a crucial element in the VA benefits system as it serves to enhance security, identity verification, and access control for eligible individuals within the Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and systems.

By utilizing secure technology, such as smart cards and biometric data, the PIV Card ensures that the holder is accurately identified and only granted access to resources and services they are authorized to use.

This not only safeguards sensitive personal information of veterans but also plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the system by addressing potential threats such as identity theft, unauthorized access, and misuse of resources.

Overall, the PIV Card is essential for delivering a secure environment, enhancing trust, and improving the quality of services provided to the veteran community.


The Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card serves as a crucial tool for ensuring the security and integrity of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) information systems. With today’s growing concerns surrounding data privacy and unauthorized access, the PIV card’s primary purpose is to provide strong authentication and facilitate secure access to VA facilities, systems, and resources.

This is particularly essential in protecting sensitive information related to veterans and their families, such as medical records, and maintaining the confidentiality of VA operations. In addition to safeguarding valuable information, the PIV card plays a vital role in the ongoing effort to streamline and standardize the identification and credentialing process for VA employees, contractors, and affiliates.

Through the implementation of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), the PIV card has become a standardized and reliable form of identification that is interoperable across multiple government agencies. This increased level of standardization, along with the card’s advanced security features, helps to bolster overall confidence in information security, promote trust among stakeholders, and optimize the provision of critical services to the veteran community.

Examples of Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card

A Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card is a secure and tamperproof credential that allows physical and logical access to federal facilities and information systems. PIV cards are often used by government employees and contractors as part of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12). Here are three real-world examples of PIV cards in use:

Department of Veterans Affairs Employees: VA employees are issued PIV cards to access secure VA facilities and information systems. PIV cards provide access to the VA medical records system, allowing employees to manage and update patient information securely. These cards are also used by VA staff to securely access other applications and resources within VA.

Federal Contractors: Federal contractors working on projects related to the U.S. government and accessing federal facilities or IT systems need to follow HSPD-12 guidelines. They are issued PIV cards to ensure secure and authorized access to sensitive areas and resources, thereby protecting critical federal infrastructure and information. PIV cards authenticate and verify a contractor’s identity and job responsibilities.

U.S. Department of Defense: PIV cards are used within the Department of Defense to grant civilian employees and contractors access to secure military installations, offices, and information systems. Using a PIV card, employees authenticate themselves and gain access to classified information and systems that are vital to national security, ensuring that only authorized personnel obtain access.

FAQ Section: Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card

What is a Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card?

A Personal Identification Verification (PIV) Card is a United States Federal smart card that contains the necessary data for the cardholder to be granted access to Federal facilities and information systems and assure appropriate levels of security for all applicable Federal applications.

Who is eligible for a PIV Card?

PIV Cards are issued to Federal employees, contractors, and military personnel who require access to Federal facilities and systems. Some authorized non-Federal users may also be eligible for PIV Cards.

How do I apply for a PIV Card?

To apply for a PIV Card, you must be sponsored by a Federal agency or an authorized non-Federal organization. The sponsoring organization will provide instructions and the necessary forms to complete the application process. Usually, the process involves background checks and fingerprinting.

What type of information is stored on a PIV Card?

A PIV Card contains the cardholder’s name, photograph, card expiration date, cardholder unique identifier, digital certificates, and the agency that issued the card. The digital certificates allow the cardholder to access secure Federal systems and services.

How do I update the information on my PIV Card?

If there are changes to your personal or employment information, you should notify your PIV Card sponsor or the agency’s PIV Card office immediately. They will provide guidance on updating your PIV Card information or reissuing a new card if necessary.

What should I do if my PIV Card is lost or stolen?

If your PIV Card is lost or stolen, you should report the incident immediately to your agency’s security office or PIV Card point of contact. They will guide you through the process of deactivating your lost/stolen card and obtaining a new one.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Identity Authentication
  • Physical Access Control System (PACS)
  • Logical Access Control System (LACS)
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12)
  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

Sources for More Information