Troubleshooting NFC with YubiKeys and Security Keys


This article covers things to try when encountering difficulty using YubiKeys or Security Keys via NFC (near-field communication). If you are receiving the error "Error in YubiKey Communication" when using the Yubico Authenticator, please see this article.

 

To make sure the issue is specific to NFC, it is recommended to follow the guidance in Basic YubiKey Troubleshooting or Basic Security Key Troubleshooting (depending on whether you have a YubiKey or Security Key) first.

 

Before proceeding with further troubleshooting steps, make sure your key supports NFC, as not all models do. Products that support NFC are clarified in the Compatible devices section above. It is typically also possible to identify NFC support visually by looking for wireless "waves" on the gold touch sensor of the key (examples shown below).

 

yubikey-nfc-visual-indicator.png.    yubikey-nfc-visual-indicator-sky.png     yubikey-nfc-visual-indicator-neo.png

 

The exact steps you will follow to use your key with NFC will largely depend on the service you are attempting to log in to. Please consult the Works With YubiKey Catalog for additional details, but note that not all services provide documentation on using keys over NFC specifically.

 

If you believe you are following the service provider's instructions correctly and suspect there to be an issue with NFC, follow the guidelines below.

 

  • Restart your phone and check whether the problem remains.
  • Verify that your phone supports NFC and has it enabled.
    • To use NFC on an iPhone, you need an iPhone 7 and newer, running a supported version of iOS.
    • On Android, NFC can be toggled under Settings, although the exact location of the setting varies. If possible, try searching for NFC within your Settings app.
  • If your phone is in a case, try removing it, in case it is interfering.
  • Ensure you are holding your key near the NFC reader on your phone. Because the YubiKey performs cryptographic operations, you will likely need to hold the key near your phone for longer than with other NFC tags/devices.
    • If you do not know your phone's NFC reader location, try looking up the phone's manual on the manufacturer website, and/or search online for something like "iphone 7 nfc antenna location".
    • Depending on your phone, you may need to use an unusual orientation/rotation of your YubiKey. For example, holding it at a 45 degree angle to the device (see below for an example of using the key with an iPhone).

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  • Hold the YubiKey near or against the phone's reader, keeping it still until your phone confirms authentication by vibrating and/or emitting a sound. It can take up to 5 seconds for the two devices to complete the operation.
  • If the phone does not read anything from the YubiKey/does not make a confirmation noise, try setting the NDEF slot for NFC usage and try these steps again. If you're not sure which slot to use, use slot 1.
    • This applies only to YubiKeys. NDEF programming does not apply to blue Security Keys.
  • If your phone reads something or makes a confirmation noise but the authentication fails, run a Full Scan of the key using the NFC TagInfo app (available for Android and iOS) and submit the results in a support ticket.