Recently our dear friend Paul has renewed his passport to go abroad. The very stylish new passport arrived and included an additional label on one of the last pages. Written on the little yellow sticker is “please remove this label”.
Not knowing what this is, it instantly sparked our curiosity!
We eagerly separated the tag from the paper and took a good look at it. The backside of the label shows something similar to a circuit design, but to our eyes we certainly identified this as a RFID chip and antenna. Having no official idea of the purpose we turned to our good friend the internet for answers, here we were greeted with conspiracy theories and beyond creative ideas.
First for all: don’t be afraid!
You won’t be refused entry because you did not remove the label, you won’t be targeted as a dangerous subject and the chip is certainly not there to interfere with the RFID chip in your passport which stores your personal information for the border control.
The little yellow label shows the name “TAGSYS” and our research found out that Tagsys is a RFID company which provides a very similar tag “GEMTRAK” which looks similar to the RFID chip in Paul’s new passport. Although we could not read the RFID chip with any of our numerous readers, assuming we have either accidentally broken it or more likely it has been deactivated during the process, we believe it is an UHF chip.
The most likely reason for the chip is the use for internal logistics and to prevent any fraud or counterfeiting. One of the greatest benefit of UHF RFID is stock control and logistics because it allows multiple scanning from a great distance and does not require any line of sight. Therefore it makes sense to put the UHF chip onto the passports to trace which stages they are in the production process, even speed this process up and deliver it as soon as possible and trace it all the way through.
By the way – you have another RFID chip replacing a page in the passport too!
The RFID chip in the page with your portrait, is containing your personal information and its an NFC (near field communication) chip.
Your personal information will be written in the RFID chip from the HM Passport Office Authorities.
To establish the communication you need to bring the reader and the passport within 4 cm (2in) of each other. That is the reason why you lay your passport on those electronic passport control scanners to read all the information needed. Again the idea of this is to speed up the processing of passengers passing the border control.
Finally Impinj also shows in its article, the frequencies of NFC (near field communication) and UHF (ultra high frequency) are very different and therefore will not cause interference with each other.
This last piece of information reinforces the idea that the most likely reason to add the yellow RFID label is for internal logistics.
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