Visitor Location Register

What Does Visitor Location Register Mean?

A visitor location register (VLR) is a database that contains information about the subscribers roaming within a mobile switching center’s (MSC) location area. The primary role of the VLR is to minimize the number of queries that MSCs have to make to the home location register (HLR), which holds permanent data regarding the cellular network’s subscribers.


Ideally, there should be only one visitor location register per MSC, but it is also possible for a single VLR to serve multiple MSCs.

Techopedia Explains Visitor Location Register

The kind of data (referred to as “fields” in database terms) stored in a VLR is similar to that stored in the HLR. That is, the VLR also holds the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) and the mobile subscriber integrated services digital network (MSISDN), the services allowed for a particular IMSI/MSISDN pair, and authentication data, all of which correspond to a particular subscription.

The main difference between data stored in the VLR and that found in the HLR is that some of the data in the latter is more permanent, while the data in the former changes more frequently. Also, if a network is designed such that one VLR serves each MSC’s location area, there will be fewer records in the VLR than the HLR.

As soon as a subscriber moves into an MSC’s location area, the corresponding record is updated in the VLR. Subsequently, the subscriber’s HLR is automatically informed of the change.

A visitor location register may also perform the following functions:

  • Monitor the subscriber’s location within the VLR’s jurisdiction
  • Determine whether a subscriber may access a particular service
  • Allocate roaming numbers during incoming calls
  • Delete the records of inactive subscribers
  • Accept information passed to it by the HLR

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…