EMV Terminal Certification and EMV Toolkit

on May30
EMV toolkit
Written by
James Davis
Written by James Davis
Senior Technical Writer at United Thinkers
Author of the Paylosophy blog, a veteran writer, and a stock analyst with extensive knowledge and experience in the financial services industry that allows me to cover the latest payment industry news, developments, and insights. Read more
EMV toolkit
Reviewed by
Kathrine Pensatori
Product Specialist at United Thinkers
Product specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the Payment Processing Industry. I help payment facilitators and PSPs solve their various payment processing issues. Read more

With the advance of EMV technology, more and more companies face the need to go through EMV certification. In one of our previous articles we’ve addressed the basic EMV certification steps. In this article we’ve decided to explain the concept of an EMV toolkit and explain the role of EMV toolkits in EMV certification.

The Role of EMV Toolkit in EMV Terminal Certification

Before moving on to EMV toolkits let us address the technical aspect of EMV certification. If you (as a PSP) want to use some EMV terminal solution, it should be properly certified. In order to certify your solution, you should follow a series of specific test payment scenarios (Visa sales, MasterCard sales, transaction fallback etc.) For this end you need an EMV toolkit, which

  • emulates the required card processing scenarios
  • generates and records test logs (i.e. results of all phases of the tests), and
  • allows you to send them to be reviewed and validated by processors and card brands (if they approve the test results, your EMV terminal solution is certified for respective type of payment cards. Otherwise, front-end and back-end errors have to be corrected).

For EMV terminal certification you need to present and validate two types of logs: card logs and host logs. Let us explain the concepts of card log and host log validation.

Conceptually, EMV certification is a two-phase process. First, front-end user (merchant or PSP, that goes through EMV certification) performs the necessary tests with the EMV toolkit, and sends the test results to the payment gateway provider. Second, the payment gateway provider sends all the test results (card logs and host logs) to the card associations or brands (Visa, MC, and others). EMV certification is passed successfully when you get approvals for all card types from all card brands.

Card Log Validation

Essentially, processing of an EMV card according to the standard is a series of steps, subject to a set of rules. Card log validation is verification of the fact, that the payment terminal performs all the necessary steps correctly. In the case of an error, it should be processed accordingly (see our articles EMV transaction fallbacks and transaction decline codes).

Host Log Validation

In terms of basic principles, EMV standard is unified. However, there are some points that differ from one payment service provider to another. Consequently, each provider uses slightly different data formats to record and send transaction data. Host log validation is a special verification procedure, indicating whether the front-end transaction data format corresponds to the transaction data format requirements of the specific payment gateway provider (all required fields contain correct values).

EMV Toolkit in a Nutshell

Physically, an EMV toolkit is a combination of one or several hardware devices and a software product, intended to perform EMV certification tests. Each EMV toolkit is intended for certification of specific card types in specific geographical locations. In the process of EMV terminal certification, test cards (or card emulators) are coded using certain parameters. After that the mandatory tests are done on the payment card terminal (that is certified with the software). The results are then recorded by the toolkit that generates card log (and, in case of some toolkits, host log) and returns the test results (whether the test is passed successfully or not).

An EMV toolkit emulates processing of different card types in different payment processing conditions (environments). These may include, for instance, different ways of cardholder verification (PIN, signature, etc.) and different account types (debit/credit).


EMV toolkit is the main means of EMV terminal certification. Once you decide to go through EMV certification process, you must choose the most suitable EMV toolkit for card brands you intend to process. In the next article we are going to provide some specific recommendations on EMV toolkit choice, based on our experience.

If you want to learn more about the role of EMV toolkits, you are welcome to contact us at UniPay Gateway.

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