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color FERET Database

Version 2

The DOD Counterdrug Technology Program sponsored the Facial Recognition Technology (FERET) program and development of the FERET database. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is serving as Technical Agent for distribution of the FERET database. The goal of the FERET program is to develop new techniques, technology, and algorithms for the automatic recognition of human faces. As part of the FERET program, a database of facial imagery was collected between December 1993 and August 1996. The database is used to develop, test, and evaluate face recognition algorithms.

To Obtain database:

To request an account that will allow you to download the Color FERET database:

1. Read the Release Agreement  

2. Send a plain-text email of the form below:

To: colorferet [at] (colorferet[at]nist[dot]gov) Subject: Color FERET download request Please create an account that will allow me to download the Color FERET database. I will abide by the Release Agreement version 1.

and we will email back a reply detailing how to use the account.


The processing of email requests is mostly-automated, so do not significantly change the text in the body of the email. Case doesn't matter, but do not use any encoding such as international characters, rich text format (RTF), HTML, etc. Do not send any attachments. Do not append a signature to the email body. Anything beyond the plain-text format above risks the request not being processable, or of it being intercepted by malware, spam or profanity filters.


Email requests are eyeballed to prevent the system from being misused to relay spam. Therefore the reply email will not sent out in real-time, but should instead arrive within one business day, under normal circumstances. It could sometimes take several more business days due to staff workloads or travel.


Accounts will be deleted after a yet-to-be-determined amount of time, so please begin downloading as soon as you're notified that your account has been created.


Frequently Asked Questions:


Are example images available so that I can decide if I want to download the entire database?


No. However, example images have appeared in many research papers that utilized the database; those would be the best places to look.


Is the original (grayscale) FERET database available for download?


No, not at this time.


Are facial expressions categorized or labelled?




How big is the database?


The database is approximately 8.5 gigabytes.


I don't have the wget program. How do I download the database?


You can install wget by downloading its (free) source code from and compiling it. Or you can use a search engine to locate a pre-compiled version of wget for your platform.

There are surely other programs besides wget that can similarly accomplish what it can.

Or you can download the 6 files (5 data files and 1 file containing their MD5 checksum) manually using any web browser.


I'm having trouble downloading the database. Can you help me?


Unfortunately, NIST does not have the ability or resources to investigate remote access problems.


FRVT Links





Created January 31, 2011, Updated December 3, 2019