Every day, passports and other travel documents are presented by millions of passengers at international borders at airports, as well as at land crossings and seaports. ICAO has established Standards, specifications and best practices related to Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs). Effective implementation of MRTD Standards and specifications has been instrumental in enhancing international security and assuring efficient border crossing.

     

    ICAO is the only UN Specialized Agency that has the mandate and responsibility for establishing, maintaining and promoting Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) related to the issuance and verification of MRTDs, and related border control issues. Annex 9Facilitation SARPs and specifications for MRTDs aim to ensure interoperability, enhance facilitation, and contribute to international security.

     

    MRTD-related SARPs are contained in Chapter 3 of Annex 9, “Entry and Departure of Persons and their Baggage.” Standard 3.10 set a deadline for the universal implementation of ICAO-compliant Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) and, while some challenges remain, almost all ICAO Member States currently implement this Standard and issue only MRPs in accordance with the specifications of Machine Readable Travel Documents (Doc 9303). The next major deadline is 24 November 2015, before which all passports that are not machine readable must expire.

     

    ICAO technical specifications for MRTDs, including MRPs, visas and identity cards, as well as biometric travel documents, are contained in Doc 9303 and its Supplements. Doc 9303 elaborates on state-of-the-art technical specifications and continues to evolve in response to changing needs and capabilities. The recent development of evidence of identification guidance material as part of Doc 9303 provides a basis to strengthen travel document issuance and security processes. Doc 9303 is continuously reviewed, and a new enhanced edition incorporating the latest Supplements and Technical Reports will be issued in 2014. 

     

    The Technical Advisory Group on Machine Readable Travel Documents (TAG/MRTD) and its two working groups continue to assist the Secretariat in developing and maintaining the currency of the specifications in Doc 9303. The New Technologies Working Group (NTWG) develops MRTD specifications and incorporates newly-emerging technologies into such specifications. The Implementation and Capacity Building Working Group (ICBWG), established five years ago, has expanded its activities in project development and implementation, capacity-building and the development of training programmes. The ICBWG links the needs of States, the technical expertise available, and assistance funding. Ongoing contribution by the TAG/MRTD and its working groups is essential to the continuing success of the MRTD Programme.

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