ICAO’s work on machine-readable travel documents began long before the appearance of Document 9303 , with the establishment of the ICAO Panel on Passport Cards in 1968. The Panel was tasked with developing recommendations for a standardized passport book or card that would be machine readable, thus facilitating the clearance of passengers through passport controls. Its recommendations took into account the cost effectiveness and reliability of different technologies, and culminated in the first edition of Document 9303, then titled A Passport with Machine-Readable Capability. In those early days, Doc 9303 served as the guideline for issuing machine-readable passports in Australia, Canada and the United States. Today, of course, it guides all of the world’s States.
In 1984, ICAO established the Technical Advisory Group on Machine-Readable Travel Documents, or TAG/MRTD for short. The group is comprised mainly of government officials who specialize in border controls and specifically the issuance of passports and other travel documents. The TAG/MRTD had an initial mandate of taking over the activities of the Panel on Passport Cards. Subsequently, the group’s mandate was expanded to include machine-readable visas and cards