Using QR Codes to Deliver Maps Electronically

Updated: May 1, 2014 - Added information about creating QR codes for Android.

Delivering mobile maps just became even easier for our Avenza PDF Maps vendors! This is a brief overview of how a vendor can easily create QR codes (Quick Response Codes) to help them promote, sell, and deliver maps electronically.

QR Code usage is gaining popularity. A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can be easily scanned using any modern mobile device. When scanned, the mobile device automatically launches a web browser to direct the user to a website or other action. In our case, the map product page (free or purchase) in the Avenza Map Store.

These QR codes can be strategically placed on printed maps, signage, websites, advertising and anywhere else your maps are promoted.

An example of such a QR code is:

When scanned on a device that has Avenza PDF Maps installed, this code will automatically launch the Avenza Map Store listing for Avenza's Amsterdam map. From there, one can browse details about the map and immediately purchase it. In this case, the QR code contains a special URL to which only the Avenza PDF Maps app will respond.

How to create a QR Code to launch an Avenza Map Store product listing

Currently, the QR code syntax is slightly different between Android and iOS. There is an iOS-only QR code syntax and an Android and iOS QR code syntax. Keep in mind that there are many users on both platforms and we recommend using a QR code syntax that is universal (or having explicit labeling that a particular QR code is for iOS or Android).


iOS QR code syntax

For iOS, the QR code syntax is avenza-mapstore://product_details/xxxxx, where xxxxx represents a map SKU from the Avenza Map Store. The map SKU can be found at the end of the URL in the browser location bar if you look up the product in the vendor site. For example, the SKU number is 59443 for this URL: When made into a QR code and scanned, you will be directed to the map listing within the PDF Maps app where you can then download or purchase the map.

Another option is to create a QR code with the URL prefix of pdfmap://. This will initiate a direct download within the app instead of directing you to the map listing. However, the map will have to be hosted independently from the Avenza Map Store and allow for public access.

In the example QR code shown above, the URL is avenza-mapstore://product_details/62190 and 61290 is the SKU number of the Amsterdam map.


Android QR code syntax (also works with iOS)

Creating a QR code for Android is just as easy. Simply use the link to the listing in the Avenza Map Store (, again where xxxxx represents a map SKU. A complete QR code will look like: When a QR code is scanned, you will be directed to the map listing in a browser. Tap the Get This Map button to open the PDF Maps app to download or purchase the map.

It's important to note that this QR code syntax also works with iOS. It will essentially bring you to map listing where you can then download or purchase the map.


Creating the actual QR code

Once you've determined the map SKU for which you wish to create a QR code, simply go to one of the many online QR code creation websites and enter the full URL as described above. Some of our favourite QR code creation sites are listed below (but there are many others just like them):

Save the QR code and use it on your website, printed maps, signage or wherever you may want to promote your maps.

How to create a QR Code to deliver a free map from the Avenza Map Store

As described earlier, QR codes can be used with Avenza PDF Maps to drive a map purchase, but they can also be used to effect the download of any map within the Avenza Map Store system.

QR codes with the Avenza Map Store can be a very effective way to deliver a free map, such as those found in transit shelters, tourist offices, car rental counters, parks, and trail heads. In such cases, for example, a QR code can be placed on a transit map in a bus shelter or on a signpost at a trail head, and anyone equipped with the Avenza PDF Maps app who may be looking at that map can scan the code and immediately get the map delivered to their device. Here is an example of such a sign Avenza used recently at an event in San Diego, CA:

Imagine seeing such a sign on a hotel concierge desk, city tourist office or in an airport and how easy it would be to quickly obtain a map for that city.

And here is an example of how the City of Stavanger, Norway has employed a QR code on their city maps placed in popular and high foot-traffic areas.

Photo and map courtesy of Stavanger Guide Maps Norway.
Notice the QR code in the lower right corner directing viewers to the Avenza PDF Maps app.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area has also implemented QR codes by adding them to posters placed in Visitor Centres and other strategic areas to allow visitors to get their hands on the park map before hitting the trails.


How to create a QR Code to deliver the Avenza PDF Maps app

So what if someone looking at a map and wants to obtain it via a QR code but doesn't have the Avenza PDF Maps app? Well, in such a case there is a QR code available that when scanned on a supported device will immediately launch the Avenza PDF Maps app listing in the Apple app store and prompt the user to download the app. Once they do that they will be fully equipped to use QR codes to get maps into the app.

Here are the QR codes to download the Avenza PDF Maps app:

qrcode Android QR Code download
Download from iTunes Download from Google Play


What can you do with QR Codes and maps?

  • QR codes can be strategically placed on printed maps, signage, websites, advertising and anywhere else your maps are promoted.
  • They can be placed on a paper map product to offer a digital copy of the printed map to someone who buys the paper one.
  • They can be used in magazine and newspaper articles to offer a map for sale for a destination mentioned in the article. If a map is used in an article a QR code can be used to offer that map.
  • QR codes can be placed on websites to enable the purchase of a map that is shown and offered for sale on that website.
  • They can be used on maps and map signage, such as those in Stavanger or on a hiking trail head map sign, to offer the same map that someone may be looking at on the sign.
  • They can be used on signs on hotel concierge desks, travel agencies, airports and train stations and any other place where travels congregate.
  • The ideas one can come up with are endless and we encourage everyone reading this to explore and exploit the use of Avenza PDF Maps QR codes in their sales and distribution tactics.
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