Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

ID Card Replacement:

How do I do turn off and replace my lost card?

You can quickly disable your card (blocking all building clearances and access to meal plan and Crimson Cash) by using the Lost Card feature in the ID Card Web Application.

For directions on how to replace your ID card please refer to the Lost, Stolen or Damaged link on the left hand side of the ID webpage.

I have Crimson Cash on my card. What happens when the card is replaced?

There is no financial information stored on your card. Your balance is tracked by the Crimson Cash database; the encoded magnetic stripe simply provides the system with the information needed to access your account. When your card is reissued, the missing card is disabled. The encoded information is changed, and the change is passed to the Crimson Cash database within an average period of fifteen minutes. The Crimson Cash system is operated by Harvard University Dining Services. If you have any questions about the service, contact them directly at (617) 496-6600.

How do I replace my card to reflect my gender identity/expression (preferred first name)?

Harvard affiliates who would like to have their Harvard ID replaced to reflect their gender identity/expression can have their ID card reprinted.  There is no ID card fee for this service.  We will use the “preferred first name” that is listed in the University Directory (MIDAS) and take an updated photo.  Last names can only be changed if there has been a legal name change.  Visit  your  local  ID office and request an updated  Harvard ID card to reflect your gender identity/expression.   Prior to coming to the ID office, please ensure that your preferred name is listed in MIDAS and bring your current Harvard ID card to exchange for the new ID card.  Bring a government-issued photo ID if you do not have a current Harvard ID card or if you are legally changing your last name.  

Temporary Cards and POI Roles

My department wishes to obtain a temporary building access card or create a POI role for one of our temporary contractors / consultants / vendors. What do we do?

Many areas of the campus maintain their own controls on the issue of access cards. If you wish to request a card for one of the following areas, please contact the indicated office for information specific to that area:
Medical School, Dental School
HMS Parking & Security, 180 Longwood Ave., Boston (617) 432-1366
School of Public Health
SPH Operations, SPH3-LL9, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston (617) 432-1152
Business School
HBS Operations, Shad Hall basement, Boston (617) 495-6814

For all other areas with temporary staff here for 10 or more days:
Temporary Photo ID cards are issued for the purpose of granting access to secured areas on University property. They are issued to anyone who is going to be on University property 10 or more days (i.e. for a relatively short period of time); these days do not have to be contiguous. Temporary Photo ID cards are issued by request only.
You may obtain Temporary Photo ID cards directly from the Campus Service Center using the Temporary ID Request form provided for these requests. The sponsor completing the form must be a faculty member, professional or administrator active at Harvard. The following information is required:

  • Name and date of birth of the person to whom the card is being issued.
  • Name, ID number and contact information of the Administrator or Faculty requesting the card.
  • Expiration date for the ID card being issued. The maximum value allowed for this date is the last day of the 15th month after the card is requested. For example, a card requested in January of 2013 may not be valid beyond March 31, 2014.
  • A brief description of the person's affiliation.

The card allows for two lines of 15 characters each.
Example: "Consultant" / "Harvard 375"
The description you choose should not, under any circumstances, correspond to a job title or other official designation used within the University. Consultant, Contractor, and Vendor are acceptable descriptions; Visiting Scholar, Research Fellow, Student, Officer, Staff and similar designations are not. Please contact us directly if you have any questions about the acceptability of the description you wish to use.

Extending Expiration Dates:

All persons whose roles are extended will require a new Temporary Photo ID Card Request form' filled out by their sponsor, extending the role expiration date. If a temporary staff member has a card printed after May 20, 2013 the card does not expire and they will continue to use their current ID card.  If the card is lost, there is a lost card replacement fee.  Special ID Cards printed prior to May 20th will need to be reprinted if the expiration date is extended.
Please note: These cards do not give the cardholder access to any facilities such as the libraries, museums and athletic buildings that are considered a benefit of working for the University. Access needs to be granted by the individual building mangers or access system administrators. They will give access to those buildings only if the cardholder has a business function to perform inside. Temporary card issuance does not imply any benefits or privilege within Harvard.

I run a special short-term academic program at one of the faculties. How do I obtain ID cards for program participants?

Participants in short-term programs are not eligible for regular Harvard ID cards. However, we can produce non-photo cards indicating the program name, the faculty's name and shield, the participant's name and the end date of the program. These cards are intended for identification purposes only. No privilege or access is implied other than those which a facility wishes to extend to these participants.  Please contact the Campus Service Center ID Services program regarding your request so that we may determine the type of credential that is needed for your program and the billing costs associated.  Our ID email address is  You may also contact the Campus Service Center at 617-496-7827 and ask to speak with either the Manager or Assistant Manager and they will be happy to assist you with your request.

Change of Status

I am an undergraduate going on a leave of absence / withdrawing / graduating. What should I do with my ID card?

Students are issued permanent ID cards when they begin their first semester at the University. If you were issued a card after May 20, 2013 there is no expiration date on your card and the card does not expire. You are expected to maintain possession of the card. This card will be your active card when you return. If you return and do not have the card in your possession it will be considered lost and subject to the replacement fee. If you have a printed expiration date on your card, you are expected to maintain possession of the card through the expiration date printed on it. If you return and do not have the card in your possession it will be considered lost and subject to the replacement fee.

I am retiring soon. Is there anything I need to do regarding my ID card?

Once you qualify as a pensioned Harvard retiree you must first go to the Benefits Office on the 6th floor of Holyoke Center. They will fill out an authorization form for you. Please bring that form and your current Employee card to the Campus Service Center (Smith Campus Center, Room 807) and we will enter your new Retiree role in the Harvard data system.

If you have an ID card issued after May 20, 2013, you do not have an expiration date on your ID card.  You will not need to come to the Campus Service Center to have a new card issued and will use your Harvard employee ID card as your Retiree card. Only persons with ID cards that have an expiration date printed on them need to receive a new ID card.

If you are unable to come to our office, please call us (617) 496-7827 and we will make other arrangements.

I am the spouse of a Harvard affiliate. Am I eligible for an ID card?

Because Harvard University has approximately 50,000 students and benefits-eligible employees at any given time, the additional demands that would be placed on libraries, athletic facilities etc. by these affiliates' spouses would be impossible for the facilities to handle. Therefore there are no cards available to spouses that provide university-wide privileges. The only exception to this rule is beneficiaries of deceased Harvard employees receiving retirement benefits. Some facilities offer their own cards or access privileges on a fee-for-service basis. For more information, contact the facility you wish to use.

I am a Harvard alumnus / alumna. Am I eligible for an ID card?

There are currently no cards available for alumni that provide university-wide privileges. Some facilities, however, offer cards to alumni on a fee-for-service basis. Examples are the Harvard College Library and the Faculty Club. These cards imply no access or privilege other than those specified by the issuing facility. For information on whether you are eligible for such a card, contact the facility you wish to use.

I am a student at the Division of Continuing Education (DCE). Am I eligible for an ID card?

Whether you are issued a card and what your card entitles you to are based on your affiliation at the Division of Continuing Education (DCE).

  • Students who are admitted candidates in a degree program are eligible to receive Harvard ID cards.
  • Summer School students are eligible to receive Harvard ID cards for the summer term. For questions on ID card eligibility or ID card privileges, please contact the Division of Continuing Education at (617) 495-4024.


Are Harvard ID cards transferable?

Harvard ID cards are not transferable. If you attempt to use a borrowed card on campus, that card may be confiscated by security or by the card checker at the facility where you are presenting the card. Borrowing a card to obtain access or services to which one is not entitled may result in disciplinary action by the University for both the lender and the borrower.
Many facilities around campus offer services on a fee-for-service basis (e.g. family plans for athletic facilities, Widener Library special borrower cards for spouses, cash payment for food in dining halls, etc.) Check with the individual facilities to find out if such services are available. Note: Persons with disabilities may lend their cards to personal care attendants, who may use them to obtain services on their behalf. The personal care attendants are required to have a card of their own to indicate that their use of a transferred card is legitimate; special cards are available from the Campus Service Center for this purpose.

What happens if I attempt to use an expired / invalidated card?

If you attempt to use an expired or invalidated card on campus, that card may be confiscated by security or by the card checker at the facility where you are trying to use it. Expired cards will not be returned. Furthermore, attempting to use an expired card to obtain access or services to which one is no longer entitled may result in disciplinary action by the University. If you have a current active affiliation with the university but have not received an ID card, please notify the Campus Service Center.

What do I need to know about my ID card?

The official Harvard ID card provides you the ability to visibly identify yourself while you are on campus. You are responsible for having your ID card with you at all times while on campus and for keeping the card safe and in good condition. The Harvard ID card has four different pieces of technology:

  • iClass chip (Building access for dorms and laboratories)
  • Thin magstripe (Meal plans, Crimson Cash, M2 Shuttle access)
  • Thick magstripe (Building access for most buildings)
  • Barcode (Library uses)

How do I care for my Harvard ID card?

To ensure the life of your ID card, please follow these simple directions:

  • Do not punch holes in your ID card, bend it excessively, or use it for unintended purposes
  • Do not allow the magnetic stripe on your ID card to be scratched
  • Do not put your ID card on stereo equipment, computers, or near any magnetic fields
  • Keep your card on a lanyard, in a protective card sleeve or in your wallet
  • Keep your ID card out of direct sunlight and away from other heat sources such as a clothes dryer

Can I ask someone else to pick up my Harvard ID card?

No, your first ID card needs to be picked up in person so that we can validate your identity and your photo. You must bring a government-issued photo ID, in order to receive your Harvard ID card.  Harvard faculty and staff may use a proxy form for for pick up of a replacement ID card.

Can my ID card be mailed to me?

No, the ID Card Office is not permitted to mail ID cards for security reasons.

If I already have an image in the system, can I submit a new photo?

Yes, if you are an incoming student you can upload a new image; however, if your Harvard ID card has already been printed, there will be a fee for producing a replacement ID card with the new image. The fee is the same as a lost ID card fee (this also applies if you have a new photo taken in an image capture station).

Photo Capture

Where do I go to have my image captured?

There are several image capture stations located throughout the faculties. You may go to the station that is most convenient for you. The locations, hours of operation and contact information are listed on our Locations page.
Please note: Image capture ordinarily involves the use of a flash. If you have epilepsy or any other medical condition that would prevent the use of a flash, please come to the Campus Service Center, where we will best be able to accommodate your needs.

What do I do if I can't come in to have my image captured?

Having your image captured for your Harvard ID card is a condition of employment for all employees, and a condition of enrollment for all students. New incoming students should use the ID Card Photo Submission Application. There are several image capture stations around campus, with sufficiently varied hours to accommodate nearly all Harvard affiliates. With rare exceptions, if you are in eastern Massachusetts, you are expected to have your picture taken at one of these stations.
However, we realize that there are some people for whom coming to an image capture station poses an undue hardship (e.g. employees stationed far away from the Harvard campus, traveling scholars, people with a physical disability etc.)
If this is the case, please contact the Campus Service Center at (617) 496-7827, or email:

I don't like my old photo. May I have a new one?

Of course. Simply come to any of our image capture stations and we will take a new photo for you. The next time a card is made for you, it will have the new photo. Please note that for security reasons, a new card is not automatically produced when a new image is captured. If you have a currently valid card and want a new one with the new image, you must return the old card before a new one is generated.

  • There is no charge for simply having a new image captured.
  • There is no additional charge for a new image when replacing an old card due to loss, theft, expiration, or change of name.
  • There is a replacement fee for replacing a valid, properly functioning card with a new image.

Photo Use

What is the University's policy on how images may be used?

The goal of our office in regard to privacy concerns is to strike a healthy balance that enables departments and faculties to use images of their affiliates for internal Harvard purposes while at the same time respecting the privacy concerns of the individual.
We believe in preventing inappropriate or questionable uses of our images and data. We have developed our system and policies to prevent database sweeps by criteria such as race, religious affiliations, physical attributes or other such characteristics, and to reject requests for images that run counter to expectations of individual privacy.
At the same time, we recognize the importance of traditional internal publications such as facebooks, departmental directories, organizational charts and newsletters. Such publications serve to foster a better sense of community, promote greater interaction between affiliates, and provide well-earned recognition of achievements.
Advances in technology have provided the University with new challenges and opportunities. Computers have reduced the cost of producing publications, thus allowing departments to do things they could never have afforded to do earlier. Networking allows for the creation of World Wide Web pages and online directories that use images and personal data. This technology carries risks--if a person has access to an online system, he or she can nearly always copy the images and data available to them with a few mouse clicks. Yet it can also allow for greater protection of privacy than printed publications through tighter access controls. We strive to be at the forefront of privacy issues and to remain as flexible as possible in accommodating the wishes of Harvard's affiliates, ensuring that long-standing principles are preserved as new applications are developed.
The official policy is documented in the General Guidelines for Distribution of Photo ID Cards and Digitized Images. The original version was drafted in the summer of 1993 prior to the implementation of the current ID system and was approved by the Office of the General Counsel. It has since been amended to enable greater flexibility in addressing the privacy concerns relating to electronic directories and the World Wide Web. If you have any further questions about privacy issues, feel free to contact us directly.