Trouble opening PDFs from DVLA

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Trouble opening PDFs from DVLA

Postby johnlane » Tue May 30, 2017 12:22 pm

So last few weeks I've received automated emails from DVLA about my car tax direct debit. Trouble is, my PDF reader of choice (Zathura) won't open them. Neither will Libreoffice. MuPDF will. The reader on my phone will.

I had a poke around and found that the files that I received (which are all attched to emails and called "Mandate.pdf") are not proper PDFs but are Java serialised data files. You can tell the difference because the first few bytes are like this:

Code: Select all
00000000: aced 0005 7572 0002 5b42 acf3 17f8 0608 ....ur..[B......
00000010: 54e0 0200 0078 7000 0389 9525 5044 462d T....xp....%PDF-

The sequence "aced 0005 ...." is the magic sequence (as regognised by magic(5) and file(1)) for "Java serialisation data, version 5". A normal PDF would begin with the string "%PDF" at byte zero. I found that removing the first 27 bytes resulted in a working PDF that any reader would open.

I't a natural instinct (wrong, I know!) to assume the open source program being used is at fault but I think this time it's the data source that is at fault.

I'd appreciate it if anyone else receiving such PDFs from DVLA could help corroborate my findings please ?
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