Definition of MRZ Code
MRZ stands for Machine Readable Zone. MRZ Code is defined as a standardized arrangement of characters present on official Identity documents including passports, ID Cards and Visas. MRZ Code enables accuracy and speed in data extraction digitally. Mainly, is uses the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology enabling high level of process automation in data extraction from physical identity documents.
Components of MRZ Code
Typically, MRZ Code is located at the bottom of the Identity Document. It contains two or three lines of characters arranged in a fixed format and order. This is easily readable by MRZ Code reader through OCR scanner and software.
What Information is Stored in MRZ Code?
MRZ Code contains the basic essential information about the document holder. This information can have elements like Name, Date of Birth, Address, Document Number and Expiration Date. Since, this information is encoded in a specific format, it is only readable by scanner and displayed on screen.
MRZ Code Structure
The Structure of MRZ Code may vary on the jurisdiction (country) and the document type. Different countries issue different formats of MRZ Code on documents. Generally, the standards are set by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs).
What is the role of ICAO in MRZ Code Identification?
As state earlier, the ICAO sets the international standards for the MRZ Code of Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD). Basically, it is the central body for the standardization and implementation of MRZ Codes across different countries. It is governed by the United Nations. ICAO has the following roles in regulating the MRZ Code:
- Establishing the Standards
- Formatting & Data Elements
- International Acceptance
- Enhanced Security
- Travel Facilitation
- Updates and Improvements
International Standards for MRZ Codes
The Following are the two main standards for MRZ codes implemented internationally.
- ICAO Standard for MRTDs
- ISO/IEC 7501:2013
There are other relevant regulations and guidelines that cohere with the above two for ensuring accuracy and effectiveness in the implementation of MRZ Codes.
How OCR Technology works in MRZ Code Identification?
Functionality of MRZ Code largely depends on OCR technology. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) works by scanning the MRZ Code present on the ID document and extracting the information in the machine readable format. Then, it records it into editable data for further use.
OCR technology works in the following steps for extracting information from (Machine Readable Code).
- Image Scanning
- Preprocessing of Data
- Text Detection
- Character Segmentation & Recognition
- Data Extraction
- Validation of Data and Identity Verification
- Output and Recording Data
- Improvement through Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Examples of MRZ Code Implementation
MRZ Codes are mostly used in sensitive places where risks of security is high and document identity needs rapid and accurate verification. Here are the three major areas where MRZ Codes are extensively used for ID verification:
- Airport Security and Immigration Procedures
- KYC and AML Processes in banks and financial institutions
- Enhancing Online ID Verification for Digital Services
Challenges & Limitations of MRZ Code Verification
Potential Errors and Inaccuracies
Even after automated verification the MRZ Code verification can have inaccuracy, human error and machine error.
MRZ Code reveals sensitive information and records it in the system. Thus the hackers can illegally access this identity for committing fraud or other crimes. Data privacy is a major concern in MRZ code-based verification.
How to overcome Challenges & Limitations in MRZ Code-based Verification?
One way of streamlining the verification process is digitizing it completely. eIDV or electronic ID verification with enhanced mechanisms ensures high level of data security. Furthermore, the following ways can help in overcoming these challenges:
- Enhanced OCR Technology
- Quality Control in Data Validation
- Machine Learning (ML) in data classification
- Updates in KYC and AML Compliance
- Anti-Spoofing Features
- Regular Audits of MRZ Code systems
- Ongoing Monitoring
By adopting these measures alongside the implementation of a robust KYC and AML compliance system, the MRZ Code verification system can work effectively.
Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) Code plays a pivotal role in the realm of Identity Verification. The standardized format on Identity documents enables automated data extraction through OCR technology. ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) is the leading body for regulating the MRZ codes in different countries by setting the standards and guidelines. Although, MRZ Code-based verification has some challenges and limitations but implementation of the above discussed 7 ways can help in overcoming these challenges. Lastly, with the technological advancements, MRZ Code verification stays as a vital part of Identity verification in multiple fields.