NFC Forum Technical Specifications

Protocol Technical Specifications

NFC Logical Link Control Protocol Technical Specification

Defines an OSI layer-2 protocol to support peer-to-peer communication between two NFC-enabled devices, which is essential for any NFC applications that involve bi-directional communications. The specification defines two service types, connectionless and connection-oriented, organized into three link service classes: connectionless service only; connection-oriented service only; and both connectionless and connection-oriented service. The connectionless service offers minimal setup with no reliability or flow-control guarantees (deferring these issues to applications and to the reliability guarantees offered by ISO/IEC 18092 and ISO/IEC 14443 MAC layers). The connection-oriented service adds in-order, reliable delivery, flow-control, and session-based service layer multiplexing.

LLCP is a compact protocol, based on the industry standard IEEE 802.2, designed to support either small applications with limited data transport requirements, such as minor file transfers, or network protocols, such as OBEX and TCP/IP, which in turn provide a more robust service environment for applications. The NFC LLCP thus delivers a solid foundation for peer-to-peer applications, enhancing the basic functionality offered by ISO/IEC 18092, but without affecting the interoperability of legacy NFC applications or chipsets. Version 1.3 of the LLCP specification adds an unauthenticated secure data transport option to ensure privacy and confidentiality of messages exchanged between peer devices.

NFC Digital Protocol Technical Specification

This specification addresses the digital protocol for NFC-enabled device communication, providing an implementation specification on top of the ISO/IEC 18092 and ISO/IEC 14443 standards. It harmonizes the integrated technologies, specifies implementation options and limits the interpretation of the standards; in essence, showing developers how to use NFC, ISO/IEC 14443 and JIS X6319-4 standards together to ensure global interoperability between different NFC devices, and between NFC devices and existing contactless infrastructure.

The specification defines the common feature set that can be used consistently and without further modification for major NFC applications in areas such as financial services and public transport. The specification covers the digital interface and the half-duplex transmission protocol of the NFC-enabled device in its four roles as Initiator, Target, Reader/Writer and Card Emulator. It includes bit level coding, bit rates, frame formats, protocols, and command sets, which are used by NFC-enabled devices to exchange data and bind to the LLCP protocol.

NFC Activity Technical Specification

The specification explains how the NFC Digital Protocol Specification can be used to set up the communication protocol with another NFC device or NFC Forum tag. It describes the building blocks, called Activities, for setting up the communication protocol. These Activities can be used as defined in this specification or can be modified to define other ways of setting up the communication protocol, covering the same or different use cases. Activities are combined in Profiles. Each Profile has specific Configuration Parameters and covers a particular use case. This document defines Profiles polling for an NFC device and establishment of Peer to Peer communication, polling for and reading NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) data from an NFC Forum tag, and polling for a NFC tag or NFC device in combination.

The combination of Activities and Profiles define a predictable behavior for an NFC Forum device. This does not limit NFC Forum devices from implementing other building blocks or defining other Profiles – for other use cases – on top of the existing ones.

NFC Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol Technical Specification

The Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol (SNEP) allows an application on an NFC-enabled device to exchange NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) messages with another NFC Forum device when operating in NFC Forum peer-to-peer mode. The protocol makes use of the Logical Link Control Protocol (LLCP) connection-oriented transport mode to provide a reliable data exchange.

NFC Analog Technical Specification

This specification addresses the analog characteristics of the RF interface of the NFC-enabled device. The purpose of the specification is to characterize and specify the externally  observable signals for an NFC-Enabled Device without specifying the design of the antenna of an NFC-Enabled Device. This includes power requirements (determining operating volume), transmission requirements, receiver requirements, and signal forms (time/frequency/modulation characteristics).

This specification is intended for use by manufacturers wanting to implement an NFC-enabled device. Its scope covers the analog interface of the NFC-enabled device in its four roles (Peer Mode Initiator, Peer Mode Target, Reader/Writer Mode, and Card Emulation Mode) for all three technologies (NFC-A, NFC-B, and NFC-F) and for all the different bit rates (106kbps, 212kbps, and 424kbps).

The Analog 2.0 Specification  introduced Active Communication Mode for P2P data exchange and NFC-V technology in poll mode. Version 2.0 ensures full interoperability with devices conformant to ISO/IEC 14443 or ISO/IEC 18092 by harmonizing the analog parameter for the contactless communication. This interoperability is important to enable the reliable usage of NFC devices with existing infrastructure using ISO compatible RF readers and/or cards (e.g. for contactless public transport applications).

NFC Controller Interface (NCI) Technical Specification

The NCI specification defines a standard interface within an NFC device between an NFC controller and the device’s main application processor. The NCI makes it easier for device manufacturers to integrate chipsets from different chip manufacturers, and it defines a common level of functionality and interoperability among the components within an NFC-enabled device. With the availability of the NCI, manufacturers have access to a standard interface they can use for whatever kind of NFC-enabled device they build – including mobile phones, PCs, tablets, printers, consumer electronics, and appliances. This will enable manufacturers to bring new NFC-enabled devices to market faster. The NCI provides users a logical interface that can be used with different physical transports, such as UART, SPI, and I2C.

NCI Candidate Version 2.0 introduces the concept of RF Interface Extensions to optimize for developers the data exchange for P2P and memory tag communications. The Listen Mode Routing mechanism has been extended to provide more flexibility for NFC devices with multiple secure elements. The new version also includes the option for NFC controllers to emulate NFC Forum tags autonomously, as well as a high-level RF interface to communicate with NFC Forum tags. NCI 2.0 supports Active Communication Mode (ACM) for P2P communication and Type V technology, allowing NFC devices to communicate with a broader range of devices and tags.


Data Exchange Specifications

NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) Technical Specification

Specifies a common data format for NFC Forum-compliant devices and NFC Forum-compliant tags.


NFC Forum Tag Type Technical Specifications

The NFC Forum has mandated four tag types to be operable with NFC devices. This is the backbone of interoperability between different NFC tag providers and NFC device manufacturers to ensure a consistent user experience.

The operation specifications for the NFC Forum Type 1/2/3/4 Tags provide the technical information needed to implement the reader/writer and associated control functionality of the NFC device to interact with the tags. Type 1/2/3/4 Tags are all based on existing contactless products and are commercially available.

Type 1 Tag Operation Specification

Type 1 Tag is based on ISO/IEC 14443A. Tags are read and re-write capable; users can configure the tag to become read-only. Memory availability is 96 bytes and expandable to 2 kbyte.

Type 2 Tag Operation Specification

Type 2 Tag is based on ISO/IEC 14443A. Tags are read and re-write capable; users can configure the tag to become read-only. Memory availability is 48 bytes and expandable to 2 kbyte.

Type 3 Tag Operation Specification

Type 3 Tag is based on the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) X 6319-4, also known as FeliCa. Tags are pre-configured at manufacture to be either read and re-writable, or read-only. Memory availability is variable, theoretical memory limit is 1MByte per service.

Type 4 Tag Operation Specification

Type 4 Tag is fully compatible with the ISO/IEC 14443 standard series. Tags are pre-configured at manufacture to be either read and re-writable, or read-only. The memory availability is variable, up to 32 KBytes per service; the communication interface is either Type A or Type B compliant.

Type 5 Tag Operation Specification

Type 5 Tag defines how an NFC device can interact with an NFC Forum Type 5 Tag, that is, an ISO/IEC 15693 tag that is configured to be able to store an NDEF message. As with other NFC Forum Tag operation specifications, the specification defines how to interact with, not build, a tag. The Type 5 Tag operation specification is focused on supporting poll-side, short-range communication with ISO/IEC 15693 tags containing an NDEF message.


Record Type Definition Technical Specifications

Technical specifications for Record Type Definitions (RTDs) and four specific RTDs: Text, URI, Smart Poster, and Generic Control.

NFC Record Type Definition (RTD) Technical Specification

Specifies the format and rules for building standard record types used by NFC Forum application definitions and third parties that are based on the NDEF data format. The RTD specification provides a way to efficiently define record formats for new applications and gives users the opportunity to create their own applications based on NFC Forum specifications.

Text RTD Technical Specification

Provides an efficient way to store text strings in multiple languages by using the RTD mechanism and NDEF format. An example of using this specification is included in the Smart Poster RTD.

URI RTD Technical Specification

Provides an efficient way to store Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI) by using the RTD mechanism and NDEF format. An example of using this specification is included in the Smart Poster RTD.

Verb RTD Technical Specification

Used to encode generic and carrier-specific supported services, which can then be used by implementations of the Connection Handover 1.4 candidate specification to offer an enhanced user experience. The Verb Record can, for example, encode the service to trigger the printing of a document or picture that will be transferred via the Bluetooth or WLAN connection.

Smart Poster RTD Technical Specification

Defines an NFC Forum Well Known Type to put URLs, SMSs or phone numbers on an NFC tag, or to transport them between devices. The Smart Poster RTD builds on the RTD mechanism and NDEF format and uses the URI RTD and Text RTD as building blocks.

Generic Control RTD Technical Specification

NFCForum-TS-GenericControl RTD_1.0 has been withdrawn with no replacement.

Signature Record Type Definition Technical Specification

Specifies the format used when signing single or multiple NDEF records. Defines the required and optional signature RTD fields, and also provides a list of suitable signature algorithms and certificate types that can be used to create the signature. Does not define or mandate a specific PKI or certification system, or define a new algorithm for use with the Signature RTD. Specification of the certificate verification and revocation process is out of scope.

Signature RTD Certificate Policy

Defines the procedural and operational requirements that the NFC Forum expects Certificate Authorities (CAs) to adhere to, when issuing and managing certificates to create signatures for NDEF messages. Provides users with the possibility of verifying the authenticity and integrity of data within the NDEF message, and specifies the format used when signing single or multiple NDEF records. 

NFC Device Information RTD Technical Specification

Defines the Device Information record type, which conveys fundamental model and identity identification information. The purpose of the Device Information record is to convey host information in a record format that can be used across different carrier types or service types.


Reference Application Technical Specifications

Connection Handover Technical Specification

Defines the structure and sequence of interactions that enable two NFC-enabled devices to establish a connection using other wireless communication technologies. Connection Handover combines the simple, one-touch set-up of NFC with high-speed communication technologies, such as WiFi or Bluetooth. The specification enables developers to choose the carrier for the information to be exchanged. If matching wireless capabilities are revealed during the negotiation process between two NFC-enabled devices, the connection can switch to the selected carrier. With this specification, other communication standards bodies can define information required for the connection setup to be carried in NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) messages. The specification also covers static handover, in which the connection handover information is stored on a simple NFC Forum Tag that can be read by NFC-enabled devices. Static mode is used in applications in which the negotiation mechanism or on-demand carrier activation is not required.

Personal Health Device Communication Technical Specification

Addresses a need for an openly-defined standard for the exchange of personal health data between devices using Near Field Communication technology. The purpose of this specification is to provide an interoperable data transport for personal health devices conforming to the ISO/IEEE Std. 11073-20601 Optimized Exchange Protocol and NFC Forum specifications.


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