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Campus Access and Security

Responsible Office:

Emergency Services Office

  • All visitors 16 years of age and older must be pre-registered in NIST's Visitor Registration System and obtain a visitor pass. See additional requirements for visiting foreign nationals below.
  • Children younger than 16 years old do not need to be registered; however, they must be accompanied by an adult at all times when on campus.
  • All visitors 16 years of age and older are required to present an accepted form of photo I.D. and, if bringing a vehicle onto a NIST campus, their valid vehicle registration card. See below for accepted forms of photo I.D.
  • All visitors are subject to screening and vehicle inspection.

Photo I.D. Requirements for Citizens

  • Effective May 7, 2025, agencies can only accept a state-issued driver’s license or identification card from states that are compliant with or have an exemption for the REAL ID Act.  See the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) site to confirm if your ID is compliant
  • NIST currently accepts other forms of federally issued identification in lieu of a state-issued driver's license, including an original passport, passport card, DOD Common Access Card (CAC), Veteran ID, Federal Agency HSPD-12 IDs, Military Dependent ID, Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC), and TSA Trusted Traveler ID. 

Visitor Registration/Access

  • All visitors 16 years of age and older must be pre-registered in NIST's Visitor Registration System and obtain a visitor pass. 
  • Federal employees in possession of active Department of Commerce agency badges or credentials are required to be enrolled into the Visitor Registration System for the duration of their first visit to the campus to receive their initial pass.
  • Employees belonging to GSA or the DOC bureaus or offices (NOAA, NTIA, & OS) that have a recurring need to access the campus, should work with their bureau’s local campus sponsor, who will provide instructions to enter campus.
  • NIST offers a Limited Access Pass that allows access to public areas only (escort required for non-public areas) of the campus for specific frequent visitors without requiring processing through the Office of Security for each visit. A Limited Access Pass requires sponsorship by a NIST employee.

Foreign Nationals

  • Only NIST employees may sponsor or host a foreign national visitor or guest.
  • Foreign nationals visiting a NIST location for three (3) days or fewer or attending a conference of five (5) days or less, must be pre-registered in NIST's Visitor Registration System at least three (3) business days in advance.
  • Foreign nationals who will be visiting NIST for more than three (3) days must be pre-registered in the associate's system at least 30 calendar days prior to their arrival. Sponsors must complete citizenship information during the registration to ensure the form will automatically be routed to the appropriate offices.
  • Lawful Permanent Resident visitors must present their Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) upon arrival. Non-Permanent Resident visitors must present a valid passport (original only) upon arrival.
  • All forms of ID must be original. No photocopies are permitted.


All deliveries must arrive on campus through the Visitor Center in Boulder or Gate C in Gaithersburg. 

Note: Any deliveries to a location other than Shipping and Receiving require registration in the Visitor Registration System, all vehicles are subject to inspection.

Access when Visitor Center is Closed

Visitors needing access to NIST sites when the Visitor Center is closed (i.e., after working hours) — 7:00 p.m.- 6:00 a.m., Monday-Friday; all day Saturday and Sunday; and federal holidays — must be escorted at all times by individuals with authorized after-hours campus access. After-hours access also requires advance authorization.

If you have been approved for after-hours access, proceed to the Main Gate (Gate A in Gaithersburg) entrance and present a valid photo identification. You will be required to sign in and out of the facility. The NIST sponsor must be with the visitor and display their NIST or federal badge prior to visitor entry.

For visitors who enter the NIST campus during regular working hours but will not exit until after-hours:

  1. The sponsor must contact the Emergency Services Office at 301-975-2660, prior to the start of “after-hours” to obtain authorization to extend the visit, and
  2. Both the visitor and sponsor shall comply with the security procedures outlined above.

All visitors exiting NIST sites after-hours must exit via the Main Gate and return their paper visitor badges to security personnel.

Prohibited Items:

Firearms, knives more than 2.5 inches, explosives or combustible chemical compounds and mixtures, mace, pepper spray, and other dangerous weapons are prohibited on the NIST campus.


NIST collects the name, date of birth, and photo image of individuals (e.g., from I.D. or in person) to control and track access to NIST facilities and sites to issue temporary IDs and verify the frequency of access.

Only authorized NIST staff will have access to the information provided, which will be protected against unauthorized access or disclosure through technical, physical, and administrative controls. Information collected from individuals will be retained according to the NARA General Records Schedule for this type of information.

Individuals may decline to provide the required identification and data elements, however, failure to do so will result in NIST denying the individual access to the facilities. The failure to provide accurate information may delay or prevent you from receiving access. Submitting requested personal information and ID constitutes your consent to the use of the information for the purposes stated.


Created December 22, 2015, Updated August 21, 2023