FAQ

What is the Harvard PIN System?

The Harvard University PIN system is an authentication system used used by multiple Harvard-affiliated websites and web applications to provide a secure means for Harvard users to access online resources. One of the benefits of the PIN system is that it allows you to access many different systems using a single ID and password.

Are my PIN and my PIN system password the same thing?

Yes. Because Harvard's PIN system originally used a "short PIN" instead of a true password or passphrase, you may occasionally hear people say "PIN" when referring to the password/passphrase now used in conjunction with your HUID number or other PIN system login type. A password may take different forms, such as a random group of characters, a memorable but not plain-English string of letters and numbers, or even an entire phrase.

Why is there a website for the Harvard PIN system?

The PIN system website exists to provide information about how to create and manage a PIN, basic advice about internet security, and resources for website developers wishing to use the PIN system for authentication in their sites or applications. The PIN website is also where you go to request a new PIN or change your existing one.

Why do I need a PIN?

Many online resources within the Harvard community require verification of your identity before granting you access. By supplying a login ID and a password that match, you can verify, or authenticate, your identity. To reduce the number of login IDs and passwords that users need to remember, many Harvard systems use the PIN system to authenticate users.

Who is eligible to get a PIN?

The following people associated with the Harvard University community are eligible to request a PIN and access websites using their PIN:

  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Students and class participants who have been issued Harvard ID numbers
  • Harvard retirees
  • Harvard University affiliates (contractors, consultants, etc. who have been issued Harvard ID numbers)
  • Library special borrowers

Will my PIN automatically expire when I leave Harvard?

Your PIN will not automatically expire when you leave Harvard. However, after you leave, if you forget or disable your PIN, it may be difficult to obtain a new PIN. Harvard University does not always maintain address and email records of individuals who leave. Because personal contact information quickly becomes outdated, to continue using PIN-protected resources after you leave, make sure that your contact information is up to date before you go.

What are the PIN system's terms of use?

The Harvard University PIN system, and the systems, data, and other resources that require PIN authentication for access, are only for legitimate Harvard University users.  Use may be monitored, and improper use of the PIN system or those resources may result in disciplinary action and civil and criminal charges.

You may also wish to view the privacy policy for websites related to the PIN system.

When should I request a new PIN?

You should request a new PIN when:

  • You are a new user and have a Harvard University ID (HUID) number
  • You have forgotten your current PIN
  • Your PIN has expired
  • You are locked out and are not certain if you actually remember your PIN

What is the quickest way to get a new PIN?

Request a new PIN by choosing the Request a New PIN option from the PIN website's home page.

Once you're there, note that the most efficient means of obtaining a PIN is through email notification and activation; using this method means your activation email will be sent immediately. However, be sure that you check for that email at the same address that is registered with Harvard University; if you're unsure of the email address you have on file with Harvard, check all your active email addresses for notification of PIN-related messages.

Alternatively, you can obtain a PIN by mail. Mail notification may take 3-10 business days for processing. When you receive your PIN letter in the mail, follow the instructions provided to complete the process. 

A third option is to request a temporary PIN letter in person. See the Campus Services website for more information.

Please note that PIN letters sent by postal mail or received in person contain temporary PINs with an expiration date. Be sure to follow the directions for resetting your temporary PIN as soon as you receive your letter to avoid having to repeat the process.