How to use login.gov if you have limited access to a phone or cell service

login.gov requires all users to use two-factor authentication to create an account and sign in. If you have limited access to a phone or cell service, you can use an authentication application, a security key, or backup codes. Government and military employees can also use their PIV card or CAC.

Use an authentication application

An authentication application can generate security codes for signing in to sites that require a high level of security. You can use these apps to get security codes even if you don’t have an internet connection or mobile service.

You can set up an authentication application with your login.gov account to generate the one-time security codes.

  1. Choose a device, such as a computer, or mobile device (phone or tablet), on which you can install apps.
  2. Download and install an authentication app to the device. Research the best option for you, but here are a few examples:

To set up an authentication application with your login.gov account

Follow these steps if you already have a login.gov account:

  1. Sign into your login.gov account at https://secure.login.gov/
  2. Stay on the login.gov site Your Account.
  3. Look for Authentication Application and click Enable.
  4. Follow the steps to set up an authentication application.

Follow these steps if you don’t have a login.gov account:

  1. Create an account on login.gov at https://secure.login.gov.
  2. Select the Authentication application option and follow the steps to finish setting up the app.

You can use the one-time security codes generated by the application each time you sign in, instead of receiving an SMS (text messages) or phone call.

Use a security key

A security key is usually a physical device,like a USB,, or can be a supporting software (like a web browser extension). You can buy a security key online or from a trusted retailer. Your security key must support the FIDO standard.

Follow these steps if you have a login.gov account:

  1. Sign into login.gov with your email address and password.
  2. Stay on the login.gov Your account page.
  3. Look for Security key and click Add security key.
  4. Follow the steps to set up your security key.

Follow these steps if you don’t have a login.gov account:

  1. Create an account on login.gov at https://secure.login.gov.
  2. Select the Security key option and follow the steps to set up the security key.

To learn more, go to login.gov and read their help page: What is a security key?

Use backup codes

Backup codes are a set of codes that you can use if you don’t have access to a phone. If you choose to use backup codes, login.gov will generate a set of 10 codes that you must save. Each time you sign in with your username and password, you’ll be asked to enter a code. You can only use each backup code once; after you use the 10th code, login.gov will give you a new set of codes to save and use.

Follow these steps if you already have a login.gov account:

  1. Sign in to your login.gov account at https://secure.login.gov/
  2. Stay on the login.gov Your account page.
  3. Look for Backup Codes and click Generate.
  4. Download, print, or write down your backup codes and save them in a secure place.
  5. Click Continue.

Follow these steps if you don’t have a login.gov account:

  1. Create an account on login.gov at https://secure.login.gov
  2. Select the Backup Codes option.
  3. Download, print, or write down your backup codes and save them in a secure place.
  4. Click Continue.

Use a government or military employee PIV card or CAC

If you’re a government or military employee and your government email address is linked to your login.gov account, you may be able to use your PIV card or CAC as an authentication method. This applies to all .mil and some .gov email addresses.

If you’re using a compatible email address, you’ll see the Government employees option when setting up your authentication methods. You’ll need to insert your PIV card or CAC into a card reader to set it up and sign in.

Follow these steps if you already have a login.gov account:

  1. Sign in to your login.gov account at https://secure.login.gov/
  2. Stay on the login.gov Your account page.
  3. Look for PIV/CAC Card and click Enable.
  4. Follow the steps to set up your PIV/CAC card.

Follow these steps if you don’t have a login.gov account:

  1. Create an account on login.gov at https://secure.login.gov using your .gov or .mil email address.
  2. Select the Government employee option and follow the steps to finish setting up your PIV/CAC card.

A dialog box may pop up and ask you to select a certificate. Choose the certificate connected to your PIV/CAC card. You might also be asked to enter the code associated with your PIV/CAC card. This is something login.gov does not have control over.

Learn more about using backup codes.

What happened to the personal key?

Login.gov recently stopped generating personal keys. Instead, you’re now must set up two-factor authentication methods. If you’re a returning user and still have the personal key option when signing in, it means that you haven’t used your last generated key. You can sign in by entering the personal key that was last generated for you, but you will not get a new code. Instead, login.gov will ask you to set up a new two-factor authentication method, such as a phone, an authentication application, a security key, backup codes, or a PIV/CAC card.