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Changes to the Issuer Identification Number (IIN) standard

by Katie Bird on
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Close up of the digits on a credit card
The standard behind the Issuer Identification Number (IIN) used on many personal cards, for example credit cards, is changing.

The IIN is the first six digits of the long number found on the front of debit or credit cards, and other personalized cards such as those used for health systems. It is a standardized global numbering scheme used to identify the institution that issued the card.

The IIN structure is defined within ISO/IEC 7812-1, Identification cards – Identification of issuers – Part 1: Numbering system, developed by the ISO/IEC joint technical committee JTC 1, subcommittee SC 17, Cards and personal identification.

Within the current version of ISO/IEC 7812-1, an IIN is defined as a fixed-length numeric of six digits. The standard also defines the Primary Account Number (PAN), a number which is used to identify an individual account holder. The PAN is of variable length, ranging from 8 to 19 digits.

Due to the increasing number of card issuers, there is expected to be a shortage in the available supply of IINs. Therefore, ISO/IEC 7812-1 is being revised to expand the IIN to an eight-digit numeric value from the current six digits. The PAN will continue to remain a variable length, ranging from 10 to 19 digits.

The draft of this revised standard has just been approved by ISO members and is expected to be published in early 2017. Major changes included in the revised version of this standard will mean that, as of the publication date:

  • The Registration Authority (RA) will commence assigning eight-digit IINs to any institution applying for a single IIN or block of IINs.
  • Issuers with eight-digit IINs will be required to issue a minimum PAN length of ten digits. The maximum will continue to be 19 digits in length.
  • Existing six-digit IINs will be converted into a block of a hundred eight-digit IINs. As the majority of issuers are unlikely to need all one hundred of these, they are encouraged to return any unused eight-digit IINs to the RA.
  • Any ISO/IEC standards referencing ISO/IEC 7812-1 should be reviewed for potential impacts.

All users of ISO/IEC 7812-1 are strongly advised to begin planning and analysis to identify any potential system and process impacts associated with their plans to adopt the new standard.

For any questions on this standard, please contact the Secretary of the working group behind the standard, Michelle M. Deane, at mdeane@ansi.org. For any media enquiries, please get in touch with the ISO press contact.