Durability is perhaps the single biggest unknown. Over their lifespan, the documents get bent, sweat on and pounded with border-crossing stamps. What's more, changes in temperature or light can shut the chip down.
Durability and quality of MRTDs are a priority for both travellers and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), responsible for the world's airways.
The roll-out of International Standard ISO/IEC 18745-1:2014 on physical test methods for passport books (durability) will bring huge benefits to the new identity documents being issued around the globe using the latest technologies and components. It will answer the durability question.
As Hartmut Hemme, the ISO expert involved with its development, explains, "The new standard enables a means of ranking and comparing the main factors affecting the service life of travel documents. This has become especially important since the introduction of contactless chips (integrated circuits) that have a life cycle of up to 10 years."
How ISO/IEC 18745-1 helps
The new standard provides a set of instructions for the process of testing the design (prototype evaluation) of MRTDs. It will help evaluate:
- Stress or environmental conditions
- Document properties
- Order in which testing methods are performed
- User requirements
ISO/IEC 18745-1:2014 will facilitate life for frequent fliers – or rail or road travellers. It meets the expectations of ICAO for today's international travel needs, and aimed to be used not only by governments, but also by suppliers of materials and by manufacturers of MRTDs.