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.  

Harvard Sponsored Roles

My department wishes to obtain a temporary access card or create a Harvard Sponsored Role for one of our temporary consultants / vendors. What do we do?

If the individual will only be at Harvard for less than 10 days; 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:
Harvard Sponsored Role (HSR) 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.  The individual needs to have an active Harvard Sponsored role. T

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. HSR 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?

  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 Director or 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.  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 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 Harvard retiree you will automatically be given a Retiree role at the University.  You will use your Harvard employee card as your Retiree ID card.  There is no separate Retiree card that will be issued. 

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. Some facilities such as offer their own cards or access privileges on a fee-for-service basis. For more information, contact the facility you wish to use. The only exception to this rule is beneficiaries of deceased Harvard employees receiving retirement benefits. If you are the spouse of a deceased employee please contact the Harvard University Human Resources Benefits Office for assistance.  They will create a role for you at the University which will make you elegible for a Harvard ID card.

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?

  • Students who are admitted candidates in a degree program are eligible to receive Harvard Student ID cards.
  • Students who are taking a class are eligible to receive Harvard Class Participant ID cards that will remain active for the term you are taking the class.  If you continue to take classes you will use the same card you initially received.  You will not receive a card each time you sign up for a class.  If you lose your ID card, you will need to pay the lost card replacement fee.  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. 

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. I

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)
  • Thin magstripe (Meal plans, Crimson Cash, M2 Shuttle access)
  • Thick magstripe (Parking readers, laundry machines)
  • 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 speakers, 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.  Only 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?

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).  If you only want a photo taken and do not have a card printed, there is no fee.

Photo Capture

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.

  • If you already have an ID card, there is a replacement fee for replacing a valid, properly functioning card with a new image.
  • There is no charge for simply having a new image captured if a card is not printed.
  • There is no additional charge for a new image when replacing an old card if the card is lost due to theft or there is change of name.

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.