Driver’s License Barcodes Decoded

Posted April 6, 2022

Arguably the most common of form of ID, driver’s licenses are used any time we need to confirm who we are (and more often than not, how old we are). Drivers license barcodes, along with newly updated license designs, began rolling out in May 2016 in Illinois. More on state to state variation below.

What kind of barcodes are on the back of a driver’s license?

If you take a look at the backside of your ID, you’ll find a rectangular black and white pattern known as a PDF417 barcode.

drivers license barcode pdf417

It may not look like your standard barcode, but that PDF417 code contains all the information on the front of your driver’s license or state ID in a single code.

A micro PDF417 is a type of 2D barcode that is capable of storing much more information than the standard 1D code. You may be familiar with QR Codes that you’ve scanned with your phone. Both are types of 2D codes that can be read with a 2D Imager barcode scanner.

Best Barcode Scanners for Driver’s License Verification

Many businesses are using a 2D imager like the AirTrack S2 to quickly verify your age or capture basic info from your driver’s license rather than manually checking ID.

Scanners made specifically for driver’s license verification have many benefits:

  • Fast capture, so you keep the line moving in the grocery or convenience store
  • 100% accuracy in verification, sidestepping errors from manual ID checks at checkout
  • Protection from fraudulent and fake driver’s licenses
airtrack s2-p 2d barcode scanner

While not every state organizes the information contained in ID barcodes the exact same way, the advantage is that criminals cannot change the information in the barcode.

This makes it extremely difficult to create a fake drivers license barcode without knowing exactly how each state encodes the data.

If the barcode isn’t created properly, it won’t read properly.

With the AirTrack S2 scanner, you can scan the code on the back of a driver’s licenses from any state to verify someone’s age quickly and accurately. This is due to the scanner’s ability to parse all the data correctly for you.

The parsing software on the scanner outputs the data you need, in the order you need it, regardless of what state you are dealing with. It’s actually faster than looking at the ID.

Another ID verification scanner we offer is the Honeywell 1400g, with models specifically designed to read PDF417 codes quickly and accurately. Corded and wireless options are available, so you can verify IDs at both the checkout counter or live event.

Avoid Fraud, Errors, and Lost Revenue

Given how simple and cost-effective 2D scanners are to get up and running, every storefront selling age restricted products should have a 2D scanner for age verification/customer info.

Related: Discount Store Case Study

With a simple scan, you avoid fraudulent ID usage and save your business from legal issues, errors, and lost revenue.

Browse our full collection of driver’s license barcode scanners and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the best 2D imagers for your business.

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