When you open your wallet you likely see a number of plastic cards that are all precisely the same size. Obviously, you say to yourself, ID card sizes have been standardized. Why then need we concern ourselves with this issue? Outside of intellectual curiosity, it is important to understand card sizing in case you are asked to produce a different sized card for a specific need in the future. You also need to understand the capabilities of the equipment you are purchasing.
ID-1, CR80, or the standard size …
Cards are three-dimensional objects and thus have a length, width, and thickness. The official size for the common ID card was codified by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) in the specification document ISO 7810 (Identification Cards–Physical Characteristics). Referring to the card type as ID-1, the dimensions were defined as 3.370 inches wide and 2.125 inches high. The thickness is 0.030 inches. This is the size that is commonly referred to as CR80 and encompasses all financial cards and most other common cards. Virtually every card printer and card production software package is designed to handle ID-1 (or CR80) cards.
Other sizes …
While CR80 is the standard size used in, by far, the majority of implementations, there are situations in which other sizes are preferable. For example:
- Larger sizes are frequently utilized when the card’s primary function is that of a name badge for a conference or seminar.
- Smaller sized cards are often used as key cards or as stored value cards in single purpose environments such as office photocopy cards.
- Even smaller sizes serve as identification tags that can be clipped to a key ring. Grocery store loyalty cards, gym membership cards, and video rental cards commonly are no more than 2 inches long and 1 inch wide.
While cards are available in a variety of thicknesses, the most common for ID cards is 0.030 inches. This is 30/1000 of an inch or, as it is commonly called, 30 mil. A card that looks normal but feels a little bit more flexible is typically a 20-24 mil card. The very thin, almost paper like cards, are 10 – 15 mil thickness. Cards thicker than 30 mil are still common in certain access control environments such as door entry and parking control. These cards are typically single application cards, dedicated only to the specific access control function. This is the case because the thicker cards–above 30 mil–will not fit or will have difficulty fitting into most card reading equipment, payment terminals, or ATMs.