Apply for a card

Assuming that you’ve read Prof. Bart Jacobs’ description about the basic notions of the IRMA technology, we give the details how you can obtain an IRMA card ready to be used. This document serves two goals. First, it intends to give a guideline how to apply and receive an IRMA card. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it aims to give an overview how this privacy-friendly identity system operates.


There are four important steps of card provisioning in the IRMA project:

  1. Applying for a new card
  2. Data verification
  3. Card production
  4. Card hand-over

Below you can find what each of these steps does and how it effects you.

1. Applying for a new card
To obtain an IRMA card, first you have to let the system know about your request.
The entry point is the page On this site you have to use your Dutch student login credential (S-number and password). After successful authentication, your browser is redirected to an IRMA website, where you have to fill in a simple application form.
The personal details you have to give here will not be stored electronically on your IRMA card. The name and e-mail address will be used for communication purposes. For instance, you receive your initial, temporary PIN to this address. The photo that you upload on this page, provided that it is of acceptable quality, will be printed on your IRMA card.
To conclude your application, the system validates the given e-mail address. As usual, a one-time link is sent to your mailbox. By clicking on the link, you prove control over this address which is required for closing the card application.
To sum, these are the steps you have to take during the process:

  1. Start card application on the Registration page
  2. Choose your institute on the Login site
  3. Log in and authorise IRMA to access your data
  4. Read the Privacy policy
  5. Add your personal details: photo, e-mail
  6. Confirm your e-mail to complete the process

2. Data verification
Fortunately, you don’t have to do much in this step. We just want to inform you what happens behind the scenes. Basically, the IRMA administration checks the quality of your photo and whether you are eligible to have an IRMA card.

3. Card production
This is the step when a card gets personalised. First, the outside of your card is initialised by printing your photo with the IRMA elements on its surface. Second, the IRMA system is installed on the card. Then, the first credential, a SURF root credential is issued on the card. This contains your unique (student) identifier. Finally, you receive an e-mail that the card is ready to hand-over. This message contains the initial PIN of your card. IMPORTANT: You will need this PIN when you collect your card.

4. Card hand-over
After you are notified that your card is ready, you have to go and visit Irma Haerkens (link) to collect it. You need the following items:

  • The temporary PIN that you’ve received via e-mail;
  • Your student card;
  • Optionally, your passport or identity card.

The card hand-over contains several verification steps to make sure that only legitimate users can receive an IRMA card. First, Irma looks up your card. Note that the card doesn’t have your name printed. Second, she verifies the photo and compares it with you and with the photos in/on your physical credentials. Third, using the new IRMA card, Irma and you together check that the identifier in the SURF root credential and that on your student card match. Then, in case you also present an e-passport or e-identity card, Irma can issue a so-called citizen root credential to your IRMA card. That means that some personal details as attributes can be collected and issued as an attribute-based credential. Finally, she hands over the card to you.

At this point you have an IRMA card with one or two root credentials. This enables you to issue new credentials to your card and later to access exciting applications.

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