MRZ, what is it, what is it used for

MRZ, what is it, what is it used for

Machine-readable entry or MRZ generator is an area that makes the procedure of recognizing the basic information contained in the passport, using different machine input devices, fast and accurate. Presented in the form of 2 new lines in the international passport, which consist of alphabetic characters, numbers, as well as icons «<<<».

What types of MRZs are there?

Several types of standard MRZ are relevant today.


The characteristic presence is for:

  • civilian ID cards;
  • European ID cards;
  • America’s green cards.

It consists of three lines, each of which contains 30 characters.


This type contains:

  • Romanian ID-cards;
  • Kazakh ID-cards of the old type;
  • Schengen zone (type B) visas (machine-readable).

These documents have 2 lines, each line containing 36 characters.

The other documents are characterized by their machine-readable zones conforming to the established standards, or differing from them.

Which functions can be accessed by machine-readable zones

The need for MRZ is to solve several problems:

  1. Providing automatic access to the chip (RFID tag) placed inside the biometric passport. Different information is placed on the chip in the documents issued in different countries. Access to it, and accordingly to the information contained on it, is possible only if the information is entered:
  • passport number;
  • the expiration date of the passport;
  • date of birth of the document holder.

MRZ reading automatically provides several times faster access to the chip.

  1. Automation of passport data recognition, speeding up the procedure in places where this action is performed regularly. This procedure is common for airports when needed:
  • get a boarding pass;
  • go through control (border and customs).

To ensure that the procedure for recognizing identity documents for travel abroad issued in different countries is equally correct at all airports, the order in which the data on the machine-readable page in passports is contained is strictly regulated. The data page is the one that contains the photo and other data about the person holding the passport, details of the document, entered in a way that can be understood by an ordinary person. This zone is called the visual verification zone (abbreviated VVP).

The machine-readable zone (MRZ), located on the page just below, contains information that corresponds to that entered in the visual verification zone.

In certain cases, the MRZ generator is applicable to the passage to special areas, to production facilities, where the passport is a document that visitors must present. For such structures the procedure of document verification is automated.

What data the machine-readable zone contains

Both lines of the MRZ of the passport orPSD passport template are characterized by a strictly regulated structure of elements, and its constituent fields are arranged in a certain order.

The MRZ generator, created according to the ICAO standard, on documents of different machine-readable countries contains different information. It is:

  • code of the passport, state or state body that issued the document;
  • name (the full name is indicated, even if it consists of several separate words – name and surname);
  • nationality;
  • gender (male or female);
  • expiration date of the travel document;
  • personal number (if any);
  • other data of an optional nature (it is at the discretion of the issuing authority).

The MRZ generator, in addition to information about the person who owns the passport, contains check digits. They are needed to recognize blatant attempts to forge the document. These digits also make it possible to trace the presence of errors during machine recognition.

Passports and visas are not the only ones that contain ICAO MSN. They are present in a number of other documents (the placement of these zones is performed at the discretion of a particular state). For example, it is possible to have MRZ zones for internal passports, ID-cards and drivers’ licenses. The format of these zones may differ and be with different number of characters, lines, different from the standard, or conform to it.

How MRZ passports are deciphered in MRP format

In the machine-readable zone, the following icons are placed (starting with the first one).

  1. The letter P. This symbol indicates the type of document (namely a machine-readable passport). The default name of an international travel document is simply “passport”. If its type is not specified, it is marked «<» – filler symbol.
  2. V. This sign indicates the presence of a visa.
  3. The next three characters MRZ generator are the country that issued the travel document or the state authority that has the right to issue it.
  4. The next 39 characters contain the name. The first character is the first name or surname. If there is more than one word in the surname, the symbol (<). It is also used to replace commas, apostrophes, etc., since punctuation marks, which are typical for writing names in the ZVP, are not used in the MRZ. The surname is separated from the name in the machine-readable zone by two consecutive «<<». Only characters belonging to the Latin alphabet are applicable in this zone.

Second line.

  1. The first 9 icons. These contain the ID card number (sometimes there may be more than 9 characters, or fewer).
  2. The 10th character. It is needed to check the correctness of the document entry.
  3. The next 3 characters are citizenship.
  4. Located after these 6 figures contain the date of birth of the person holding the passport (in the format, after which the check digit is written.
  5. The next digit indicates the gender, sign < – for special cases (in case of gender reassignment).
  6. The next seven digits are the period until which the passport is valid (format After them the control digit is obligatory.
  7. The next 14 digits. These indicate the personal number, other information (optional). If you have nothing to enter, in this field are <<, and instead of the check digit is placed the digit 0, or a substitute character.

Keep in mind that there is no standard type of check digits on the MRZ visa.

Bibliography ► (April 21, 2022). MRZ, what is it, what is it used for. Recovered from