This paper presents a secure and efficient hierarchical identity-based access authentication protocol for mobile network. First, a new mobile scheme is constructed to improve the registration performance by the port-based vector switching; especially when there are multihops and bandwidth between the user and home network, the registration delay is greatly reduced. Second, an access authentication protocol is proposed by combining the designed mobile proposal with hierarchical identity-based signature. It has the characteristics of identity based, local verification, concurrency and hierarchy. The whole authenticating process is divided into two phrases to precompute some time-consuming parameters, which are important to decrease the effects of the signing/verifying. Besides, a new access router selection algorithm is given for the mobile user to choose optimal access point in this paper. The theoretical analysis and simulating results show that the proposed authentication protocol outperforms the previous ones in terms of the handover delay integrating the authentication with its security enhanced. For example, the falling speed of the new protocol's total latency is reduced about 50% and 83%, respectively, compared with the existing identity-based-signature-based and Rivest–Shamir–Adleman-based schemes. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.