Interoperability test events for electronic travel documents have been held for a long time since ICAO started its work on the technical specifications for eMRTDs in Document 9303. This document incorporated the specifications for the employment of biometrics and contactless chip technology in travel documents, which thus became electronic machine readable travel documents, eMRTDs. The specifications included the details for the data structure storing the biometric and biographical data in the chip (Logical Data Structure, LDS) as well as the details for the use of the security measures based on symmetric and public key cryptography which could or had to be used to protect the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of data both when stored in the chip and while transferred from the chip to the reading device in the process of reading the data contained in the chip at the border.
Interoperability test events were necessary to bring together producers of chips and chip personalisation software and producers of reading devices and inspection system software to ensure that their implementations were fully interoperable. This, in turn, would ensure a smooth border checking and better travel experience for travellers.
While most recent interoperability test events have shown a consistently improving success rate, indicating that both specifications and implementation have reached a good level of maturity, the need to hold such events still exists for two main reasons: on the one hand, specifications evolve as technology and the associated risks and countermeasures evolve, on the other hand new actors emerge on the market which can benefit from the learning process associated to an interoperability test event.
The organisation of the interoperability test event in Ispra aimed at addressing the need expressed at times by document and inspection systems producers, to assess the current status regarding implementation of the latest versions of the specifications, particularly PACE and PACE-CAM after the last official interoperability test event held in Madrid in 2014.