Don't miss an insight. Subscribe to Techopedia for free.


Personal Identity Verification Card

What Does Personal Identity Verification Card Mean?

A personal identity verification card (PIV card) is a specific type of smart card technology that allows individuals to gain access to U.S. federal resources and facilities. U.S. law related to the Department of Homeland Security requires that PIV cards conform to Federal Information Processing Standards, or FIPS 201, in order to provide standardized security for a full range of federal employees and contractors.


Techopedia Explains Personal Identity Verification Card

A personal identity verification card contains specific kinds of technologies that provide for a range of uses by security reader systems. FIPS sets out specific standards for these cards, including guidelines on cryptographic algorithms that will encrypt sensitive information, as well as types of security, from passwords to biometrics systems, to verify cardholders’ identities. Other kinds of parameters are also covered in guidelines for PIV card, such as four mandatory cryptographic keys and key sizes. A document called the NIST Special Publication 800-78-3 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology further identifies the security standards in detail.

A PIV card is also sometimes associated with or contrasted to a similar type of smart card called the common access card (CAC). Although similar, these two types of identification cards are used differently, according to the particular type of federal employee or contractor who is carrying them. Generally, CAC cards are associated with Department of Defense or military workers, while civilian federal employees may carry a PIV card.


Related Terms