With Machine Readable Travel Documents ( MRTD ) machine readable travel documents are referred to, the format has been specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
This specification ( Doc 9303 ) describes that a travel document in addition to the personal data of the owner and a photograph must include a two-line text area that is set in the machine-readable font OCR -B and contains the most important data. In addition, some were partially optional security mechanisms (eg, Basic Access Control and Extended Access Control ) is set, intended to protect the data from being read in passing.
In the sixth edition of the specification, the ICAO has specified the use of biometrics and RFID chips. If a State decides therefor, whether data such as fingerprint or iris features can now be saved. The European Commission has called for the compulsory use of facial features and fingers, as an option, the iris recognition is provided. In Germany an application of Iris recognition has not yet been planned, since the biometric method is patent encumbered. Integrated into the document RFID chips can wirelessly (13.56 MHz) according to the standard ISO / IEC 14443 to communicate with a Passverifiziergerät and allow a reading of the encrypted data even from some distance ( range depending on chip up to ten centimeters ). Often even higher ranges are called, because some countries (eg USA) have issued identity cards with RFID technology in the UHF band of 900 MHz, the read ranges of up to 6.6 meters allows what has led to privacy concerns. For the latter, but there is no MRTDs according to the ICAO specification.
Both the German passport and the German identity card follow the specifications of ICAO and are thus considered as machine-readable. Passports issued after November 2005 have an RFID chip. This is usually a MCS-51 compatible microcontroller with Kryptokoprozessoren who expect an RSA algorithm up to three times faster than a PC.