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Applying the Standards

Read about which standards to use when carrying out identification processes.

Table 1 describes broad identification scenarios and the applicable assurance standards.

Table 1: Which standards to apply when

What are you trying to do? Applicable standard


Gathering information and linking it to an entity enrolling for the first time

Information Assurance Standard 

Binding Assurance Standard 

Recognition setup

Adding an authenticator so an entity can be recognised when they return


Binding Assurance Standard

Authentication Assurance Standard

Ongoing recognition

Ensuring the same entity is returning to access the system

Authentication Assurance Standard 


Collecting more information from the entity or updating/removing the information already held

Information Assurance Standard 

Binding Assurance Standard


Establishing credentials for use across multiple contexts

Information Assurance Standard

Binding Assurance Standard

Authentication Assurance Standard

Federation Assurance Standard 

Expanding on the Enrolment process

The identification management element Enrolment, that connects an Entity to a Relying party (see About identification management), expands the three-way relationship between the Entity, their Information and any Authenticator in the context of a Relying Party.

About identification management

Diagram 1: Relationship between the enrolment identification management elements 

A picture of a person, a key and folders of information arranged in a triangle with lines connecting them

Detailed description of diagram

This diagram shows a triangle representing the connection between the 3 elements: Entity (represented by a person) at the top of the triangle, Authenticator (represented by a key) at the bottom left, and Entity Information (represented by folders of information) at the bottom right.

The connection between Entity and Entity Information is labelled Entity Binding. The connection between Entity Information and Authenticator is labelled Authenticator Registration. The connection between Authenticator and Entity is Authenticator Binding.

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Descriptions of the enrolment elements and their relationships


An Entity can be anything with a distinct existence, though the content on this website will focus mainly on Entities that carry out transactions. Within the context of identification management they will be those who enrol with organisations for various services.


Authenticators are things known and/or possessed and controlled by an Entity that they will use to be recognised when they return to an organisation's service. Authenticators act as shortcuts to avoid having to repeat all the identification steps carried out during the enrolment process.

Entity Information

Information related to an Entity, which is collected and stored by an organisation in order to provide a service.

Entity Binding

Entity Binding is the process of ensuring the Entity Information belongs to the Entity that is using it.

Authenticator Binding

Authenticator Binding is a process of ensuring the user of the Authenticator is the same Entity to which the Entity Information relates.

Authenticator Registration

Authenticator Registration is the process of creating and/or linking an Authenticator to the information about an Entity.

Level of assurance 

Level of assurance (LoA) is the indicator of the robustness of the identification processes taken to establish an entity’s information in a system.

LoA cannot be expressed as a single value or an accumulated value due to the independence of each identification process. Therefore, it is represented by an expression of the levels achieved by each identification process.

For example, the level of assurance of enrolled information relating to an entity, where an authenticator has been issued would be expressed as:

LoA = {IAn, BAn, AAn}

Where n represents the assurance level achieved by each identification process.

LoA is useful as an indicator of assurance profiles, such as those:

  • required to meet a certain risk profile — as the result of having carried out an assessment of identification risk
  • resulting from an assessment of the current capability of an identification management process
  • needed for trust in an identification process.

If an organisation is providing Credentials then a separate indication of  ‘FA’ compliance is also desirable.

Compliance with the standards

Compliance terminology

All the identification standards use the keywords MUST, SHOULD, MAY and their negatives, to signify different types of requirements as defined by RFC 2119:

MUST — signifies an absolute requirement.

SHOULD — defines a recommended course of action that may be ignored if the full implications of doing so are clearly understood and the organisation is prepared to accept them.

MAY — defines a course of action that is truly optional.

Mandated compliance

Mandated compliance with these standards will be provided through such mechanisms as contracts, cabinet mandates and legislation.

When mandated, an organisation will be prepared, when notified, to assess and report on its compliance with these standards. The assessment methodology and reporting mechanism will be communicated to organisations at the time of notification.

Self-assessed compliance

Any individual or organisation can choose to use these standards as a guide to good practice.

The risk of non-compliance

If an organisation does not fully meet the standards, they accept any risks associated with not doing so. For example, the increased possibility that a customer’s information will be breached.

Non-compliance can also impact the ability for an organisation to participate in federated or other trusted arrangements.


Currently no process exists by which a mandated organisation can secure an exemption from the requirement to meet these Standards.

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