An example of a QR code that links to the government app gallery at Codes or Quick Response codes are two-dimensional codes that are scanned with a smartphone, connecting individuals to additional online content or information. They are made up of modules arranged on a contrasting background.

How QR Codes Work

To use barcode technology, a barcode reader must be enabled or downloaded on your smartphone. Each reader is a little different, but the user typically lines up the code in their viewer and activates the reader. If using a QR Code to point to a web page keep in mind the size or the QR code is directly proportional to the length of the URL it points to. This can become an issue if the generated QR code image becomes too large for use in printed materials. In that case, consider using a URL Shortener.

Reader apps are available for free or for sale on commercial app store. Search the stores for QR readers.


QR codes are used to bridge the offline and online world. Examples:

  • TSA is piloting use of QR codes on airport checkpoint signs to give passengers access to additional information about screening procedures.
  • GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service used QR codes at an expo to help attendees track booths that they visited..
  • A poster with flu information in a bus stop can have a code that can lead to a website with additional information.
  • A piece of equipment can have a QR code that can bring up a reference manual or how-to video.
  • The Government Printing Office and National Park Service (NPS) have created QR codes that allow users to download their mobile apps.
  • NPS Fort Smith National Historic Site uses QR codes on waysides to connect visitors with videos to enhance their visit to the park.

Good Practice Tip: Keep in mind that QR codes that lead to mobile-friendly content will provide the best customer experience.


The webinar we’ve embedded from Digital Gov University “Leveraging the Government Experience through QR Codes” provides insight on how to use Quick Response (QR) codes, and how your agency can benefit:

  • Make interacting with your customers easy
  • Give your customers access to information in the palm of their hands—whenever and wherever they need it most!
  • Minimize data transfer errors and enhance productivity without a decrease in quality
  • Provide information on programs and data with just a simple update to a link and a scan of a bar code
  • Safely and reliably secure Personal Identifiable Information(PII) when using QR codes for data collection


QR code generators (with federal compatible terms of service)

  • SourceForge

Note: Be sure to read the new alert information in the red box at the top of the Terms of Service pages.

QR Readers

  • Search the app stores for your devices to find a scanner or reader.