PDF417 is a two-dimensional, variable-length stacked symbology that was developed in 1992 to encode large amounts of data in a small area. Its name derives from its format: a portable data file (PDF) that carries four bar elements and four space elements arranged in a 17-module codeword. The symbology is in the public domain.

PDF417 is used in a variety of settings: Government-issued identification cards (such as driver's licenses), airline boarding passes, postage stamps, and package labels, to name a few.

PDF417 has two specialized variants: Macro PDF417 and Compact PDF417. Macro PDF417 is used to divide files that are too large to be encoded in a single symbol into smaller, encodable segments. Compact PDF417 is used when space considerations are a main concern and symbol damage is unlikely. (Compact PDF417 is not to be confused with MicroPDF417, which is a different symbology.)

PDF417 is defined in ISO/IEC 15438 - Information technology - Automatic identification and data capture techniques - PDF417 bar code symbology specification.

ClosedSymbol Structure

ClosedCharacter Set

ClosedError Correction