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Look up credential in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

A credential is a proof of qualification, competence, or clearance that is attached to a person, and often considered an attribute of that person. It often signals rank.


[edit] Documentation

Usually some documentation is required to claim any credential. While in some cases the credentials may be as simple as a paper membership card, in others, e.g. diplomacy, they may involve presentation of letters from authority figures detailing their faith in the person who is representing them in a negotiation or meeting.

[edit] Diplomacy

In foreign diplomacy, credentials are documents which ambassadors, diplomatic ministers, plenipotentiary, and charges d'affaires hand to the government to which they are accredited, for the purpose, chiefly, of communicating to the latter the envoys diplomatic rank. It also contains a request that full credence be accorded to his official statements. Until his credentials have been presented and found in proper order, an envoy receives no official recognition. The credentials of an ambassador or minister plenipotentiary are signed by the chief of state, those of a charges d'affaires by the foreign minister.

[edit] Medicine

In medicine, the process of credentialing is a detailed review of all permissions granted a medical doctor at every institution at which they've worked in the past, to determine a risk profile for trusting them at a new institution.

[edit] In cryptography

The study of credentials in cryptography is concerned with the way that someone can claim a credential without presenting physical documents or being physically recognized, that is, separating the credential from the body. A specialized study within this is the study of digital cash: how credit can be established independent of the identity of those claiming it. David Chaum did the most detailed study of such digital credentials and boasts several software patents in this area.

[edit] Other examples

Well-known credentials include:


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