The Anatomy of a Driver’s License

back of driver's license

The Anatomy of a Driver’s License

Driver’s licenses contain a plethora of information on a 2 ⅛ x 3 ⅜ card. But what does it all mean? Here’s a breakdown of everything included on the back of your ID and how it’s used to verify your identity. 

  1. PDF417 barcode: This is used for storing personal information, including name, gender, date of birth, height, and weight. “PDF” stands for Portable Data File and the “417” signifies that each pattern in the code consists of 4 bars and spaces in a pattern that is 17 units long.
  2. Microprint background: The microprint background is a high-end authentication feature. It refers to the use of microscopic patterns on a document or ID card that cannot be reproduced through conventional photocopying devices. Microprint is typically not visible to the naked eye and requires magnification to verify.
  3. Photo ID mirrored image: The photo ID mirrored image is used as a reference with face matching authentication. Facial matching technology can create a face template from a webcam, from their ID photo, from another photo, or from a selfie camera. Next time you see the face, the image will be matched against the template you have saved.
  4. Organ donor symbol: The organ donor symbol is cross-referenced with the information in the PDF417 barcode and on the front of the ID. The red heart is a legally binding consent to be an organ and eye donor.
  5. State seal: The state seal is used for ID series detection. Often, state seals are holograms that are used for high-level authentication.
  6. Magnetic stripe: The magnetic stripe contains information on the front of the license, such as name, date of birth, and address. It is used for front and back matching.
  7. 1D barcode: The 1D barcode contains the state code and ID number. The state code is a two digit number.
  8. DOB and issue date: The date of birth (DOB) and issue date are compared to information on the front of the ID.
  9. Class/restrictions/endorsements: This information is compared to information on the front of ID. Class D is a regular operator.

While every state’s driver’s license varies slightly, this diagram gives a good overview of the elements likely included on your ID. Read more about ID verification and authentication here or contact us for information on our ID scanning solutions.