About the PIV API

The ActivID Personal Identification Verification (PIV) End-Point Client API (PIV API) fully implements the [800-73] NIST Special Publication specification. The implementation is independent of any PIV API card application implementation and supports any PIV-certified smart card.

The PIV standard defines two interfaces for communicating with PIV cards:

  • The PIV transitional interface.

  • The PIV end-point interface.

A PIV end-point card is a card that implements the second of these interfaces.

The PIV API provides the following services on NIST-certified PIV end-point cards:

  • Data access

  • Cryptographic operations

  • Credentials initialization and management

The PIV API is provided as a C API. However, Java applications can use the PIV API as well. HID Global provides a Java wrapper for the PIV API and the ActivClient SDK provides samples in C and Java to demonstrate how to call the PIV API from various languages.

Purpose: Use this API for PKI based application using PIV End Point card or PIV data retrieval.

Supports: PKI and PIV data access, as well as mutual authentication and external authentication.

Languages: C, Java; HID Global provides samples in C and Java.

Description: The ActivClient PIV API is an implementation of Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Middleware API as per National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) SP800-73-3 specifications. This API provides cryptographic, data storage, and utility services for FIPS 201 PIV-compliant cards.

The ActivClient PIV API:

  • Provides support for:

  • Smart card cryptographic and data storage operation

· Client-based management on smart cards and smart card readers

  • Is recommended for developers who want to perform smart card cryptographic and data retrieval operations specifically on FIPS 201 PIV-compliant cards.


The PIV API is supported on platforms where ActivClient has been installed. Refer to the ActivID ActivClient for Windows Installation Guide for pre-requisites for ActivClient installation.


The PIV API conforms to the NIST PIV standard. For additional information, see:

  • Reference information on the PIV standard (http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/piv/npivp/)

  • [SP800-73-3] NIST Special Publication SP800-73 Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

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