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University Information Services

About your University Card

Your University Card looks like a credit card with a photo. It has a contactless chip inside and a bar code strip on the back. It is used to:

  • Identify you as a current University student or member of staff
  • Give you access to certain facilities, for example, libraries or departmental buildings.
  • Access various services, for example, charging for meals.

Your University Card is unique to you. Each card gives access to different facilities and services, depending on your college, department or institution.

You should store your card carefully to avoid damage. You may be charged for replacement cards.

Getting your University Card 

By using your University Card you are agreeing to the terms and conditions.


Your University Card will be issued on arrival at the University. It will be sent to your college. If your card is not waiting for you when you arrive in college, please contact your College Card Representative. The most common causes of failure to receive a card are:

  • Inappropriate photo.

  • Failure to meet your conditions: unless you have met all your conditions, we are not certain you are coming and therefore do not produce a University Card for you. Please note there is a slight delay between meeting your conditions and the Card being produced.

If you are a new student who will be arriving before the start of term it may be possible to expedite your card. Please contact your College Card Representative.

If you are an undergraduate, your photo may be used for identification on online supervision reports. Contact your Senior Tutor with any questions about this. 

Each college has its own scarf colours and many include these on Cards to identify all those who have an affiliation with it. Not all colleges request that scarves appear on cards. 


Your card will be sent to your primary institution. If you would prefer to have your card sent to a different institution you are affiliated with, please ask your Card Representative to specify this at the point of ordering.

The Card Office will only distribute cards to University buildings via the appropriate Card Representative. It will never send cards to residential addresses. 

University Visitors

Your institution will request a University Card for you. It will be sent to your primary institution.

Visitors’ partners are not entitled to University Cards. If you are affiliated with a college, they may issue their own cards for partners. 

Activating your Library card

Your University Card can be used as a Library card after it has been activated.

Undergraduates: Show your card to a member of Library staff. 

Post-graduates: Show your Graduate Admissions confirmation letter and your card to Library staff. 

Staff: Show your card and letter of appointment to Library staff. 

Programming your card for access and other services

The services available through the University Card are implemented on a site-by-site basis. Contact your College or Departmental Card Representative to activate the access and service rights associated with your University Card and with any questions.

Local access systems are often controlled by people with a ‘building manager’ role, for example a librarian, Custodian, College Porter or the Department Office Administrator. 

Replacing lost, stolen or damaged University Cards 

If your card is stolen, lost or damaged, always contact your College Card Representative to arrange for a replacement and to see if there is a temporary card to use in the interim.

Replacement cards will never be issued directly by the Card Office. They must be requested and issued via your Card Representative. The replacement card should reach you within a few days of being requested. Delays may occur over the Michaelmas period. 

A charge may be incurred for lost cards – your Card Representative will be able to advise you if this is the case. 

Photos are only changed when there has been a significant change in a person's appearance. Requesting a new card is not an opportunity to change your photo, unless there has been a significant change in your appearance, for example, your old photo is over 10 years old.

Your library barcode will remain the same on replacement cards, but you will need to let the Building Manager (that is, the person who controls your access systems, for example a librarian, Custodian, College Porter or the Department Office Administrator) at your College or Department know that you have a new card to update your access and service rights. Contact your Card Representative for details. 

If you are entitled to access a University car park you should inform your Card Representative when you request a replacement card. They will then arrange with Estate Management to have your access moved to the new card. 

Expiring cards

If your card is about to expire, you are still eligible for a card and your student or staff records are up to date, a replacement card will be requested by and sent to your Card Representative. Your expired card should be returned to your Card Representative.

If your card is due for renewal and your previous photo is over 10 years old, you will be asked for a new ont that conforms to the identity photo specification

If you use your University Card daily, it is worth checking with your Card Representative a week before your current card expires that a new card will be issued. 

Please note that the Card Office is extraordinarily busy with new students at the start of the Michaelmas term. If your card is due to expire during the first weeks of the Michaelmas term, please request a card in advance to avoid delays. 

If you have changed courses or your staff contract has been renewed, you may need to update your University Library (UL) account. Speak to staff at the Reader Services Desk in the UL Entrance Hall for more details. The Reader Services Desk may also be contacted on 01223 333 030 or

Returning your card when you leave the University or it is no longer valid

Your University Card is issued by and remains the property of the University of Cambridge. You are not permitted to keep it as a souvenir. It must be returned to your Card Representative when either you leave the University or the card is no longer valid. It will be securely shredded by the Card Office.