Explained: What are chain codes in Star Wars?

Chain codes have recently played an important role in both The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch. Chain codes are identification markers that consist of biographical information such as a person’s name, age, family history, and criminal record.

In the second episode of The Bad Batch (spoilers), the Empire mandates that all citizens must have a chain code in order to travel off-world and to exchange their now invalid currency for Imperial credits.

The Empire tries to depict the chain codes as a tool for peace and prosperity. In reality, the chain codes are a brilliant and dehumanizing way for the Empire to track its citizens and control their lives. The Empire is registering people, and citizens have no choice but to comply so they can have access to basic necessities and travel. This becomes a focal point in the plot of “Cut and Run” as the Bad Batch forge falsified chain codes to help Cut Lawquane and his family travel off the planet Saleucami.

In the second season of The Mandalorian, Boba Fett shows the chain code encoded in his father’s Mandalorian beskar armor to Din Djarin. The chain code provides further insight into the histories of Boba and Jango Fett. With much of this chain code written in the Star Wars alphabet known as Aurebesh, some dedicated fans translated it to better understand what the chain code actually says.

While this is the most memorable chain code moment so far in The Mandalorian, they were mentioned several times earlier in the series. When the Client hires Din Djarin in the very first episode, he provides Din with the last four digits of Grogu’s chain code. This is how Din first learns the age of the individual that he is hired to find and bring to the Client.

One of the reasons Cara Dune is laying low on Sorgan in season 1 is because of crimes she committed after the Galactic Civil War. Since criminal history is part of a chain code, she is concerned about what the New Republic will do to her if they find her and run her chain code through an official channel.

When Nevarro is occupied by Imperials, a scout trooper requires Greef Karga to show his chain code in order to enter the city. After Cara Dune helps to defeat the Imperials and drive them out of Nevarro, Greef Karga offers to take care of the issues with her chain code. These concerns are taken care of as she becomes a deputized marshal for the New Republic.

It is interesting to see the chain code used as a tool of oppression in The Bad Batch and to see it still being used by the Imperial remnant and the New Republic in The Mandalorian. This doesn’t mean that the New Republic is no different from the Empire, but it is concerning that the New Republic uses some of the same tools to maintain order and organize intel regarding its citizens.