NFC Data Exchange Format

NDEF (NFC Data Exchange Format) is a binary message format to exchange application-defined payloads between NFC Forum Devices or to store payloads on an NFC Forum Tag. A payload is described by a type, a length and an optional identifer encoded in an NDEF record structure. An NDEF message is a sequence of NDEF records with a begin marker in the first and an end marker in the last record.


NDEF decoding and encoding is provided by the nfc.ndef module.

>>> import nfc.ndef

Parsing NDEF

An nfc.ndef.Message class can be initialized with an NDEF message octet string to parse that data into the sequence of NDEF records framed by the begin and end marker of the first and last record. Each NDEF record is represented by an nfc.ndef.Record object accessible through indexing or iteration over the nfc.ndef.Message object.

>>> import nfc.ndef
>>> message = nfc.ndef.Message(b'\xD1\x01\x0ET\x02enHello World')
>>> message
nfc.ndef.Message([nfc.ndef.Record('urn:nfc:wkt:T', '', '\x02enHello World')])
>>> len(message)
>>> message[0]
nfc.ndef.Record('urn:nfc:wkt:T', '', '\x02enHello World')
>>> for record in message:
>>>     record.type,,
('urn:nfc:wkt:T', '', '\x02enHello World')

An NDEF record carries three parameters for describing its payload: the payload length, the payload type, and an optional payload identifier. The attribute provides access to the payload and the payload length is obtained by len(). The attribute holds the payload identifier and is an empty string if no identifer was present in the NDEF date. The nfc.ndef.Record.type identifies the type of the payload as a combination of the NDEF Type Name Format (TNF) field and the type name itself.

Empty (TNF 0)

An Empty record type (expressed as a zero-length string) indicates that there is no type or payload associated with this record. Encoding a record of this type will exclude the name (payload identifier) and data (payload) contents. This type can be used whenever an empty record is needed; for example, to terminate an NDEF message in cases where there is no payload defined by the user application.

NFC Forum Well Known Type (TNF 1)

An NFC Forum Well Known Type is a URN as defined by RFC 2141, with the namespace identifier (NID) “nfc”. The Namespace Specific String (NSS) of the NFC Well Known Type URN is prefixed with “wkt:”. When encoded in an NDEF message, the Well Known Type is written as a relative-URI construct (cf. RFC 3986), omitting the NID and the “wkt:” -prefix. For example, the type “urn:nfc:wkt:T” will be encoded as TNF 1, TYPE “T”.

Media-type as defined in RFC 2046 (TNF 2)

A media-type follows the media-type BNF construct defined by RFC 2046. Records that carry a payload with an existing, registered media type should use this record type. Note that the record type indicates the type of the payload; it does not refer to a MIME message that contains an entity of the given type. For example, the media type ‘image/jpeg’ indicates that the payload is an image in JPEG format using JFIF encoding as defined by RFC 2046.

Absolute URI as defined in RFC 3986 (TNF 3)

An absolute-URI follows the absolute-URI BNF construct defined by RFC 3986. This type can be used for message types that are defined by URIs. For example, records that carry a payload with an XML-based message type may use the XML namespace identifier of the root element as the record type, like a SOAP/1.1 message may be represented by the URI ‘‘.

NFC Forum External Type (TNF 4)

An NFC Forum External Type is a URN as defined by RFC 2141, with the namespace identifier (NID) “nfc”. The Namespace Specific String (NSS) of the NFC Well Known Type URN is prefixed with “ext:”. When encoded in an NDEF message, the External Type is written as a relative-URI construct (cf. RFC 3986), omitting the NID and the “ext:” -prefix. For example, the type “” will be encoded as TNF 4, TYPE “”.

Unknown (TNF 5)

An Unknown record type (expressed by the string “unknown”) indicates that the type of the payload is unknown, similar to the “application/octet-stream” media type.

Unchanged (TNF 6)

An Unchanged record type (expressed by the string “unchanged”) is used in middle record chunks and the terminating record chunk used in chunked payloads. This type is not allowed in any other record.
>>> import nfc.ndef
>>> message = nfc.ndef.Message('\xD0\x00\x00')
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD0\x00\x00')[0].type
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD1\x01\x00T')[0].type
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD2\x0A\x00text/plain')[0].type
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD3\x16\x00')[0].type
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD4\x10\')[0].type
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD5\x00\x00')[0].type
>>> nfc.ndef.Message('\xD6\x00\x00')[0].type

The type and name of the first record, by convention, provide the processing context and identification not only for the first record but for the whole NDEF message. The nfc.ndef.Message.type and attributes map to the type and name attributes of the first record in the message.

>>> message = nfc.ndef.Message(b'\xD1\x01\x0ET\x02enHello World')
>>> message.type,
('urn:nfc:wkt:T', '')

If invalid or insufficient data is provided to to the NDEF message parser, an nfc.ndef.FormatError or nfc.ndef.LengthError is raised.

>>> try: nfc.ndef.Message('\xD0\x01\x00')
... except nfc.ndef.LengthError as e: print e
insufficient data to parse
>>> try: nfc.ndef.Message('\xD0\x01\x00T')
... except nfc.ndef.FormatError as e: print e
ndef type name format 0 doesn't allow a type string

Creating NDEF

An nfc.ndef.Record class can be initialized with an NDEF

To build NDEF messages use the nfc.ndef.Record class to create records and instantiate an nfc.ndef.Message object with the records as arguments.

>>> import nfc.ndef
>>> record1 = nfc.ndef.Record("urn:nfc:wkt:T", "id1", "\x02enHello World!")
>>> record2 = nfc.ndef.Record("urn:nfc:wkt:T", "id2", "\x02deHallo Welt!")
>>> message = nfc.ndef.Message(record1, record2)

The nfc.ndef.Message class also accepts a list of records as a single argument and it is possible to nfc.ndef.Message.append() records or nfc.ndef.Message.extend() a message with a list of records.

>>> message = nfc.ndef.Message()
>>> message.append(record1)
>>> message.extend([record2, record3])

The serialized form of an nfc.ndef.Message object is produced with str().

>>> message = nfc.ndef.Message(record1, record2)
>>> str(message)
'\x99\x01\x0f\x03Tid1\x02enHello World!Y\x01\x0e\x03Tid2\x02deHallo Welt!'

Specific Records

Text Record

>>> import nfc.ndef
>>> record = nfc.ndef.TextRecord("Hello World!")
>>> print record.pretty()
text     = Hello World!
language = en
encoding = UTF-8

Uri Record

>>> import nfc.ndef
>>> record = nfc.ndef.UriRecord("")
>>> print record.pretty()
uri =

Smart Poster Record

>>> import nfc.ndef
>>> uri = ""
>>> record = nfc.ndef.SmartPosterRecord(uri)
>>> record.title = "Python module for near field communication"
>>> record.title['de'] = "Python Modul für Nahfeldkommunikation"
>>> print record.pretty()
resource  =
title[de] = Python Modul für Nahfeldkommunikation
title[en] = Python module for near field communication
action    = default