Q: What are active digital certificates?
A: The gold chip on your HHS ID Badge stores your digital certificates, including the Authentication Key that allows you to log in. To work, the Authentication Key must be active (as in, not expired).
Q: What do digital certificates allow me to do?
A: Digital certificates allow systems to validate who you are and authenticate you as a user. They will also allow you to send and receive encrypted e-mails and digitally sign e-mails.
Q: When do my digital certificates expire?
A: Digital certificates expire every 1 - 2.5 years depending on your affiliation with NIH. They may expire earlier than the expiration date printed on your HHS ID Badge.
Q: Is there a way to check the expiration date of my digital certificates?
A: You can check the status of your digital certificates by visiting http://testmysmartcard.nih.gov. When you are asked to select a digital certificate, the properties of the certificate will display the expiration date.
If you are using a Windows computer, you can follow these steps to check the expiration date of your certificates using Internet Explorer:
1. Insert your HHS ID Badge into your smart card reader so that the photo
is facing up and the gold chip enters first.
2. Open a session of Internet Explorer.
3. Under the Tools menu on your browser, select "Options" or "Internet
4. On the "Content" tab, click the "Certificates" button.
5. On the "Personal" tab, you will be able to view your certificates and the
date they expire.
If you need help, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk at 301-496-4357. They can guide you through the steps to check the status of your digital certificates.
Q: I have multiple digital certificates. Do they have different expiration dates?
A: No. All your digital certificates have the same expiration date. When you renew your certificates, all of them will be renewed.
Q: When I log in to ITAS or other applications through NIH Login (iTrust), I am prompted to "Select a digital certificate" before entering my PIN. Which certificate should I select?
A: Directions for selecting the correct digital certificate for smart card authentication are on pages 3 & 4 (steps 4-6) of the document posted at: https://itrusteauth.nih.gov/CertAuth/UsingSmartCardsWithNIHLogin.pdf.
Q: How do I know when my digital certificates are expiring?
A: The HHS Smart Card Management System (SCMS) will send alerts when your certificates are within 42 days of expiration, and every 7 days thereafter until they expire or until you renew them.
It is important to renew your certificates BEFORE they expire in order to prevent access issues.
Make sure that your e-mail settings enable receipt of these alerts that begin with:
Sender: HHSIdentity [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Subject: ACTION REQUIRED: The certificates on your HHS ID
badge must be renewed.