ISO 7816

ISO 7816 is the accepted standard for smart cards, a credit card-sized card which is embedded with integrated circuitry that can process data. It is a family of standards that deals primarily with the interoperability of connection characteristics, physical properties, and the identifiers of the chip and the data therein.

There are eleven parts in the ISO 7816 family that are in a constant state of flux. This is because they are subject to revisions and updates. There are also physical characteristics that the 7816 specifies. These characteristics include:

  • dimensions
  • electromagnetic radiation
  • mechanical stress
  • location of the IC in the card
  • location of the magnetic strip, and
  • resistance to static electricity

These qualities are important to smart cards as they are needed to perform to their full potential without being damaged in the process.

Important Standards

  1. 7816-2
  2. This update involves the definition of the location of contacts and their dimensions on the card. It defines the purpose, electrical characteristics, and the location of each metallic contact of the card.

  3. 7816-3
  4. This standard controls the electronic signals and the transmission protocols that take place within the card. It specifies the electrical requirements of the contacts on the card.

  5. 7816-4
  6. This fourth standard defines the interchange commands for the central processing unit of the card. It allows for interoperability to occur across industries for the security and transmission of the card data. It specifies the basic commands for writing, reading, and updating data within the card.

  7. 7816-5
  8. Application identifiers and numbering systems are defined with the registry procedures that this standard deals with. It allows the card to recognize a unique registry assigned to a specific vendor.

  9. 7816-6
  10. The physical transfer of data is defined by this standard. Furthermore, it explains the operational data of the card itself. There are two protocols that are included in the card: the block protocol and the character protocol. The card may choose to follow any of the two mentioned, depending on what kind of data is being transmitted and stored. However, it may also choose not to follow any of the two.

  11. 7816-7 through 7816-11
  12. These last few standards describe the methods to maintain the database, encryption details and techniques, card management, reset signals of synchronous cards, and store personal identification.