What Is a Machine-Readable Passport?

A machine-readable passport (MRP) is a government issued travel document, which is used by many countries for international travel. Different nations started to introduce this type of document in the 1980s, and now most passports are machine-readable.

This page explains:

  • Definition of a machine-readable passport
  • Benefits of an MRP
  • Checking your passport is machine-readable

Machine-Readable Passport Definition

A passport that is machine-readable includes data that can be read by a computer. Specifically, the data is on the identity page on the passport, and features the personal information of the passport holder.

The machine-readable data usually consists of 2 lines of text, which are a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. The data includes details such as the name, nationality, and passport number of the individual.

When the text is scanned by a computer, the system uses character recognition to distinguish the personal details of the traveler.

Difference Between Machine-Readable and Biometric Passports

A machine-readable passport is not the same as a biometric passport (ePassport). A biometric passport is a more advanced type of travel document, which has a microchip embedded inside the cover.

Usually, an ePassport will also have machine-readable text on the identity page, whereas a machine-readable passport may not have a microchip.

Benefits of a Machine-Readable Passport

There are numerous benefits to a machine-readable passport, which is why most nations have adopted them.

The document is beneficial to the traveler, as well as to border control officials.

Saves time at the border

A machine-readable passport can be scanned, allowing the traveler’s data to be seen instantly. This decreases the waiting time for both passengers and immigration officers.

Reduces errors

The data on a machine-readable passport is automatically read by a computer, meaning the details of the passport holder do not need to be entered manually. This eliminates the risk of errors and provides greater accuracy.

More secure

Machine-readable passports are more difficult to forge than traditional passports, as the printed details must match those that appear throughout the travel document.

How Do I Know if My Passport Is Machine Readable?

If you want to check whether your passport is machine-readable, you can easily check yourself by looking at the identity page.

Usually, the data will appear at the bottom of the page. If you see lines of text which include letters, numbers, and symbols, then your passport is machine-readable.