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Important information for NHS smartcard users regarding CIS upgrade

28 Jun 2021

Important information for smartcard users – Notice of CIS system upgrade and service downtime

The Care Identity Service (CIS) is being upgraded from 6.30 pm on Friday 9 July 2021 through to Monday 12 July 2021. During this time, smartcard use for authentication and system access will not be affected. However, smartcard administration services such as certificate renewals, passcode changes and unlocking services, will be unavailable.

The Care Identity Service (CIS), which is the national system for authenticating, registering and issuing NHS smartcards, will be moving to an online ‘cloud-based’ environment to improve system performance and user experience.

This upgrade was previously scheduled to take place in May but due to issues with a small number of systems was postponed. NHS Digital has advised that the upgrade will now take place from 6.30 pm on Friday 9 July 2021 through to Monday 12 July 2021.

During this timeframe, smartcard administration services will be unavailable, such as certificate renewals, passcode changes and unlocking services. Smartcard use for authentication and system access will not be affected.

What do you need to do to prepare?

  • Know your passcode. Ensure that you know your smartcard passcode as it will not be possible to reset this during the upgrade period. If you need to reset your passcode in advance of the upgrade, please speak to your local Sponsor, Local Smartcard Administrator (LSA) or contact the Registration Authority via the NHS Informatics Merseyside IT Service Desk.

  • Renew expiring smartcard certificates. Ensure that any smartcard certificates that are due for renewal are renewed in advance of the upgrade. Users with smartcards that are due for renewal will be prompted to renew online at each login. If a smartcard certificate expires during the upgrade period, it will not be possible to renew this until the upgrade is completed. This could result in you not being able to access NHS smartcard enabled systems.

  • Create new starters and make position adjustments in advance. New users and position adjustments will not be able to be made during the upgrade period. Therefore, please ensure that this is completed prior to the upgrade.

IT changes required (for pharmacies only)

Ahead of the transition, pharmacy IT departments will need to:

  • Make a change to your firewall;
  • Apply root certificates;
  • If applicable, remove hard coded IP addresses.

For further information and guidance on the above, please visit the NHS Digital website and refer to the section on 'What Your IT Function Needs to Do'. Please pass this onto your relevant IT contacts to action.


Further information and support

During the upgrade it is anticipated that a very small number of users, who have active sessions, may find that they need to re-authenticate again using normal smartcard processes. Steps have been taken to minimise the number of users who will be affected in this way.

For problems relating to the renewal of your smartcard in advance of the upgrade, please contact your IT department.

For all other smartcard queries, please contact your Registration Authority (RA). For those who receive IT services from NHS Informatics Merseyside, please contact the RA Team via NHS Informatics Merseyside’s IT Service Desk.

E-mail signatures and website banners

Please use the following e-mail signatures and website banners to help raise awareness of this upgrade and what you need to do to prepare. Please link these images to the following address: