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Standards Affecting Credit Card Design and IIN Regulation

Credit card fraud first made an appearance soon after the first issues of general use credit cards, which occurred in the early 1950s. Numbering systems and codes have been part of credit and debit card security systems since those early days.

The standardisation and regulation of credit cards, and more broadly identification cards has been managed by several authorities over the years but is now principally managed by the International Organisation for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC).

With regard to the physical requirements of a credit card, the US system was previously guided by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In 1983 ANSI published the standards for Financial Transaction Cards; ANSI X4.13-1983.

In 2003 however, a new standard was developed by the ISO/IEC that provided a standardization system for the entire globe. The new ISO/IEC standards were published in the document ISO/IEC 7810:2003.

The ISO/IEC7810:2003 specifies that there are four standard size identification card, which includes credit cards, all of them having a nominal thickness of 0.76mm.

The four sets of dimensions are:

  • ID-000 25mm x 15mm
  • ID-1 85.60mm x 53.98mm
  • ID-2 105mm x 74mm
  • ID-3 125mm x 88mm

Other characteristics are also defined in the standard:

  • conditions for conformance
  • dimensions and tolerances of the identification cards
  • the construction and material of the id cards, and the;
  • physical characteristic of the card such as bending and durability.

The ISO/IEC technical committee: ISO/IEC JTC1/SC17 for cards and security devices for personal identification advices, decides on technical aspects affecting credit card use and integrity, and develops global standards.

This committee looks into issues connected to:

  • identification and related documents
  • cards
  • security devices and tokens, and;
  • the interface systems associated with industry applications and international interchange.

International standards regarding numbering systems and registration procedure for issuer identification cards, including credit cards, were first published by the ISO in 1985 in the ISO 7812:1985 document. Since 1985 there has been 5 revisions of the standards and from 1993 the standard was published in 2 parts.

The current versions are:

  • ISO/IEC 7812-1: 2017 Identification cards - identification of issuers - Part 1: Numbering system
  • ISO/IEC 7812-2: 2017 Identification cards - identification of issuers - Part 2: Application and registration procedures

These are the standards that specifies the numbering system for the identification of the card user, the format of the issuer identification number (IIN) and the Primary Account Number (PAN).

Other standards linked in such a way that some or all of their content constitutes requirements of the above standards:

  • ISO/IEC 3166-1, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions - Part 1: Country codes
  • ISO/IEC 8583-1, Financial transaction card originated messages - Interchange message specifications - Part 1: Messages, data elements and code values
  • ITU-T Recommendation E. 118, The international telecommunication charge card.