This is the only extension for using PC/SC based smart cards with PHP. It is a wrapper to the wonderful and free project by Ludovic Rousseau, PCSC-Lite, which is the middleware to access a smart card using SCard API (PC/SC). Since PCSC-Lite is compatible to the winscard API it should be possible to compile this extension using a Windows or macOS operating system.

Thanks are going to Johann Dantant! He provided a PC/SC extension for PHP since 2005 and I reused some of his code. He allowed me to relicense these parts under the terms of the PHP license so I could integrate PCSC-Lite native into PHP.


I recommend to install the PECL extension the “PHP” way:

pecl install pcsc-beta

You can install the latest code by downloading the sources and compile yourself too.

git clone https://github.com/pcsc-for-php/pcsc.git
cd pcsc
make install

After that you have all needed files in ./modules/ .


The extension currently provides the following API (alphabetical order):


Returns $errstr for $errno or NULL.

NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Duplicate of scard_errstr() but this should be the default.


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Establishes a temporary exclusive access mode for doing a serie of commands in a transaction.

You might want to use this when you are selecting a few files and then writing a large file so you can make sure that another application will not change the current file. If another application has a lock on this reader or this application is in SCARD_SHARE_EXCLUSIVE there will be no action taken.


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Maybe not useful because of this extension is for server side usage designed but since we want the API implemented it should be available.

scard_connect($context, “OMNIKEY CardMan 5x21 00 00” [, int $protocol])

Connects to a card. Returns the $connection to a reader or FALSE.

Where optional $protocol is:

  • 1 = T=0
  • 2 = T=1

Default $protocol is T=1.


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Sends a command directly to the IFD Handler (reader driver) to be processed by the reader.


Disconnects the $connection to a card. Returns the TRUE if disconnecting was succesful or FALSE.


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Ends a previously begun transaction.

The calling application must be the owner of the previously begun transaction or an error will occur.

scard_errstr($errno) - Not PC/SC standard.

Returns $errstr for $errno or NULL.


Returns the application $context to the PC/SC resource manager.


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Get an attribute from the IFD Handler (reader driver).


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Blocks execution until the current availability of the cards in a specific set of readers changes.


Returns TRUE if $context is valid or FALSE if $context is not valid.

scard_last_errno() - Not PC/SC standard.

Returns the last $errno or nothing? NULL or FALSE? (TODO)


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Returns a list of currently available reader groups on the system.


Returns an array of available readers or FALSE.


array(3) {
  string(26) "OMNIKEY CardMan 5x21 00 00"
  string(26) "OMNIKEY CardMan 5x21 00 01"
  string(76) "SCL01x Contactless Reader [SCL01x Contactless Reader] (21161009200722) 00 00"


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Returns the $connection to a reader or FALSE.


Releases the application $context.


NOT IMPLEMENTED! - Should be available!

Set an attribute of the IFD Handler.


Returns the status array or FALSE.


array(7) {
  string(3) "T=1"
  string(28) "3B8980014A434F5033315632324A"

scard_transmit($connection, $apdu)

Returns the response $apdu as string or FALSE.

To do

There is some stuff to do. Some things are important but some are not.

Implement important missing PC/SC functions and write documentation:

  • SCardBeginTransaction()
  • SCardEndTransaction()
  • SCardControl()
  • SCardGetStatusChange()
  • Write complete API documentation

Implement less important missing PC/SC functions:

  • SCardGetAttrib()
  • SCardSetAttrib()
  • SCardListReaderGroups()
  • SCardReconnect()


Completely implement the full API from PC/SC API from PCSC-Lite


This code is licensed under the terms of the PHP License version 3.01. PCSC-Lite is licensed in a way where it is possible to integrate it native in the PHP environment.


This extension was originally written in 2005 by Johann Dantant. In 2011 Johannes Findeisen took his code and updated it to work with the current PHP version. Johannes maintains the code to this day, but there have been some contributions from other people in the past. All people who have worked on extending or porting the “pcsc” extension are listed below in alphabetical order by their last name. Thanks to all!