KYC AML Guide: the Clock shows the average reeding time of the blog06 min Read


KYC AML Guide: the Clock shows the average reeding time of the blogJuly 31, 2023

MRZ Code: A Reliable Tool for Identity Verification

Identity Verification in KYC and AML Compliance requires reliable tools to ensure accuracy in data collection. A small error in Identification and Verification can cause devastating effects. Specifically, in Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Fraud Management, the need for robust Identity Verification is paramount. The elements of accuracy while reading the physical documents for verification requires advanced machinery and tools. MRZ Code is the essential component to read the physical Identity documents. This blog is an illustrative exploration on the topic of MRZ Codes as a powerful and reliable tool for Identity Verification. We will discuss the mechanisms of MRZ Codes as a pivoltal component in advanced identification systems.

Belal Mahmoud

KYC Product Consultant

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.

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)

Also Read: MRZ Code vs. QR Code

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.

Privacy Concerns

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.

Bottom Line

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.

Also Read: The Role of AI-powered ID Verification in Combating Digital Fraud


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Belal Mahmoud
KYC AML Guide: the Linkedin share

Belal possess over 8 years experience in the KYC Identity Verification industry. He has consulted KYC solutions for over 20 new economy companies at DIFC and ADGM while ensuring a seamless technical integration and helped in jurisdictional compliance audits.