What’s in your Driver License Barcode?

If you have a new Prince Edward Island driver license — the crazy all-digital ones with the tiny numbers beside each field — flip it over and you’ll see a barcode. Thanks to The SWIPE Toolkit it’s easy to find out what information is encoded in that barcode. For me, the “processed” version of the results came out like this:

Address=100 PRINCE ST
Zipcode=C1A 4R4
Driver License Number=XXXXXX
License Expiration Date=MM/DD/YYYY
License Issued Date=MM/DD/YYYY
Date of Birth=MM/DD/YYYY
Address Line 2=

There’s actually more information in there, which you only see if you look at the “raw bytes” tab in the Toolkit application; this Pennsylvania document can be of assistance in understanding what the fields mean. In there I see information like my name and eye colour that the Toolkit doesn’t parse.

The PDF417 format for the barcode used in Prince Edward Island is used many other places too, so if you live elsewhere you may be able to do this just as easily. It took me about 5 minutes from scan to decode, and worked on a Mac (it’s a Java application). Be sure to save your scanned image as a JPEG (I tried TIFF and it didn’t work).


Ann's picture
Ann on July 18, 2008 - 18:48 Permalink

So. If someone finds or steals my license, they could have access, not only to the information printed on my license, but all that other information as well?
Cheery thought.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 18, 2008 - 18:50 Permalink

As far as I can tell, there isn’t information in the barcode that’s not also printed on the Driver License as well, but I’m not 100% sure, as some of the encoded information in the barcode is difficult to identify — numeric codes, etc.

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on July 19, 2008 - 00:31 Permalink

Pure Ruk! I scanned and decoded mine, neato but kinda dissapointing in how mundanely similiar the info is to the printed info. Too square. I was hoping for a mysterious revelation about the government; but then it is PEI government. Very little X Files factor.

Barcodes eh? I guess the magnetic stripe is the same.