Paper Shredder Security Levels DIN 66399

21 April 2019 Shares

Home Paper Shredders Paper Shredder Security Levels DIN 66399

By Recycling.com/ 21 April 2019 Shares

Paper Shredder Security Levels DIN 66399

Which security level do you need for paper shredding?

When you are looking for a new shredder for home or at the office, you often see the security level of a paper shredder. For instance, DIN P2, P3, or P4. What does the security level mean, and why is it important to pay attention to it when buying a new shredder machine? On this page, we explain the shredder security levels.

Check our shredder Guide
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Strip-Cut, Cross-Cut and Micro-Cut

What is DIN 66399?

DIN standard - Deutsches Institut für NormungWhen you look at a paper shredder’s specifications, you often see the security level with a DIN classification next to it. For example, DIN P-1 or DIN P-3. But what does it mean? The DIN P-level is part of the official German DIN 66399 standard (since 2012), the international standard for secure shredding of data media developed by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN), which translates to the German Institute for Standardization.

This DIN-norm contains destruction requirements for multiple media categories. Namely paper, film, optical media, magnetic data media, hard drives and electronic data media.

DIN 66399 (before DIN 32757) classifies the security levels for six media categories. Such as hard drives (H), optical media (O), and paper-based products (P). For paper, there are seven security levels. The levels range from DIN P-1 to DIN P-7. The higher the DIN level, the smaller the paper particles become after shredding a document.

The seven security levels are divided in thee protection classes. Some security levels overlap two protection classes:

Protection class 1

  • Normal security for internal data
  • Security level: DIN P-1, DIN P-2, DIN P-3

Protection class 2

  • High security for confidential data
  • Security level: DIN P-3, DIN P-4, DIN P-5

Protection class 3

  • Very high protection for confidential and secret data
  • Security level: DIN P-4, DIN P-5, DIN P-6, DIN P-7

We recommend a paper shredder that falls in protection class 2 with a DIN P-3, DIN P-4, or DIN P-5 security level for most shredding needs. These shredders suffice most requirements for secure shredding of confidential documents.

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Micro-cut particles are barely readable compared to cross-cut shreds.

DIN P: The size of the particle

The security levels for paper shredders are part of the official DIN 66399 standard for paper destruction. This standard contains seven security levels for paper destruction, which indicates the minimal requirements for the paper particles’ size after shredding a document. The seven security levels are DIN P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, P-5, P-6, and P-7. The higher the number, the smaller the size of the particle gets.

For instance, when you are looking for high security and want small particles, you are better off with a P-5 paper shredder than a P-2 paper shredder. That is because the paper particles from a P-5 micro-cut shredder are microscopic in comparison with the strips of a P-2 strip-cut shredder.

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Want to visualize and compare the shred sizes? Our friends over at Intimus made a ‘Shred Size Visualizer’. This image shows you a clear comparison between the different DIN security levels. Did you know that a level 6/P7 paper shredder destroys a standard A4 document (8,5″x 11″ sheet) into 12,053 pieces? Quite amazing.

Particle size

Besides security levels, you can also find the cut type of paper shredders. All paper shredders are divided into three types of paper cuts. These are strip-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut. Below you can see all the security levels from the German DIN 66399 standard for paper destruction:

  1. Strip-cut – Low level of security
  2. Cross-cut – Medium level of security
  3. Micro-cut – High level of security
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Courtesy of Fellowes

Cross-cut and micro-cut

There is some confusion about the difference between a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder. Officially a micro-cut shredder is classified as a P-5, P-6, or P-7 shredder. But you will see that a lot of paper shredder manufacturers and stores classify a DIN P-4 shredder as a micro-cut shredder as well. We see this for shredders that are offered in the US. Fellowes tells us that “the reason for this is that the term micro-cut is used on some P-4 Machines in the US, whereas in Europe it is only P-5.

Since it is very common that a P-4 shredder is called ‘micro-cut’ or ‘high security’, we also use this term for DIN P-4 classified shredders.

A DIN P-4 shredder offers more security than a P-3 shredder. Some P-4 shredders produce tiny paper particles after shredding a document, making the particles more ‘micro-cut’ than a P-3 cut. DIN 66399 states that a P-4 shredder should shred particles smaller than 320 mm² or 0.5 in².


Security Level: DIN P-1
Strip-cut Paper Shredder

strip-cut-shredder-strips
  • DIN Protection Class: 1
  • Security rating: Very low
  • Strip size: < 2,000 mm² / 3.1 in²
  • Strip width: < 12 mm / 0.47 in
  • Strip length: Unlimited
  • After shredding an A4 document: 17.5 strips


Security Level: DIN P-2
Strip-cut Paper Shredder

strip-cut-shredder-strips
  • DIN Protection Class: 1
  • Security rating: Very low
  • Strip size: < 800 mm² / 1.24 in²
  • Strip width: < 6 mm / 0.24 in
  • Strip length: Unlimited
  • After shredding an A4 document: 35 strips


Security Level: DIN P-3
Cross-cut Paper Shredder

cross-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 1 and 2
  • Security rating: Medium
  • Particle size: < 320 mm² / 0.5 in²
  • Particle width: < 2 mm / 0.08 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 195+ particles


Security Level: DIN P-4
Cross-cut / Micro-cut Paper Shredder

cross-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 2 and 3
  • Security rating: Medium
  • Particle size: < 160 mm² / 0.25 in²
  • Particle width: < 6 mm / 0.24 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 390+ particles


Security Level: DIN P-5
Micro-cut Paper Shredder

micro-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 2 and 3
  • Security rating: High
  • Particle size: < 30 mm² / 0.05 in²
  • Particle width: < 2 mm / 0.08 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 2,079+ particles


Security Level: DIN P-6
Micro-cut Paper Shredder

micro-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 3
  • Security rating: Very high
  • Particle size: < 10 mm² / 0.02 in²
  • Particle width: < 1 mm / 0.04 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 6,237+ particles


Security Level: DIN P-7
Micro-cut Paper Shredder

micro-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 3
  • Security rating: Extremely high
  • Particle size: < 5 mm² / 0.01 in²
  • Particle width: < 1 mm / 0.04 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 12,474+ particles

Check NSA-approved shredders

Paper shredder information and recommendations

Which paper shredder is the best shredder for you to buy? Visit our paper shredder page with all the information you need about paper shredders. You can also find recommendations for the best paper shredders you can buy at Amazon.com.

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Paper shredder cut types (source).

Compare strips and shreds

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Difference between strip-cut and cross-cut.

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Check Strip-cut shredders

Cross-cut-shredder-particles

Check Cross-cut shredders

Micro-cut-shredder-particles

Check Micro-cut shredders

Which shredders do we recommend?

To destroy sensitive documents with personal information, medical information, financial information, or other confidential information, we recommend using a cross-cut shredder or a micro-cut shredder. Read more about these types of paper shredders here:

3 Comments on “Paper Shredder Security Levels DIN 66399

  1. Hi,
    Please send me info and prices on micro cut P5 of higher.
    Regards,
    Cesar

  2. I’m curious to know something: I am interested in shredding aluminum foil and the thin sheets made from cut up aluminum cans and turkey roasting pans.
    I have heard that paper shredders work remarkably well for this, but the blades are usually made out of inexpensive brass or nickel. As a result, they go DULL really fast when it comes to shredding aluminum. This beats going to machine shops and trying to get metal bits, shavings and swarf. If you were to ask machine shops to let you have their metal refuse back before 1995, ( just before the Oklahoma City bombing and 9-11 ), I’m sure they would be HAPPY to give you entire BAGS of the stuff. But today, the factory workers will eye you with extreme suspicion, look at each other, and then tell you to leave, before they call the cops!!!
    So shredding my own aluminum and finely cutting up my own steel, copper and brass pot scrubbers has proven to be the only way to go. And it is too expensive to buy the metal shavings sold online.
    So, I’m just wondering about how “durable” the blades on a given P-6 or P-7 shredder are. The nice fine bits and pieces would be perfect!!! Would I have to have a machinist re-make the blades out of a harder metal? I sure would appreciate some helpful info and advice on this. Thank you. I can be reached at 1-559-681-6787. Email or phone call , both are fine. Again, thank you.?

    1. Dear Red, thank you for your question. Paper shredders are meant to shred paper, although industrial shredders are also able to shred paperclips, staples and other small metal parts. But it is called a paper shredder, so the main item to use it for is cardboard. I would suggest you look out for a metal shredder. At our facility we also have a metal shredder for shredding hard drives from our clients for instance. But be aware that these machines are quite expensive.

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