3

I just invested in an RFID blocking Passport wallet. I read the SE Travel Query regarding passport security and it addresses concerns regarding security for passport data. I still hold a Machine-Readable passport and assume that there is no RFID in my passport.

On the contrary, I have credit cards that are now NFC + RFID Readable and some identity cards too.

My concern is when on goes through security scans, has someone been in trouble for using such RFID blocking passport wallets? I can understand if someone takes me on the side and asks me to open it but are there some TSA (american) norms that state not using them?

4

You have to take your passport out of its wallet or cover when you give it to the border control agent. So there’s no issue of it not being able to be read. The range of the passports is relatively modest so they don’t “read” them until you step up to the booth.

Conversely, the border control agent NFC readers are designed only for near-range so they won’t pick up any other RFID or NFC tag unless it’s stuck on the passport itself. Which is another reason they ask you to remove the passports from their covers or wallets.

And as far as pre-boarding security such as the x-rays, metal detectors, millimeter wave scan, and so forth are concerned, the wallets and pouches are not a problem as long as you put them through the X-ray machine. They are simple foil or mesh faraday cages and the X-ray machine can easily see through them. If you keep them on your body, the millimeter scan (full-body human scanner) will detect them as an anomalous object and metal detectors may detect them as metallic objects and you’ll be pulled aside. If you’re lucky, you put your wallet in the little bin for X-ray scanning and you’ll go through again. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get physically examined, swabbed and (hopefully not) probed.

Related trivia: NEXUS cards have a much greater range and if you’re driving across the Canadian-USA border, border control ask you to remove them from their RFID covers well ahead of the border control agent, so they can read them while your car is still in queue. But you obviously aren’t driving to or from Canada so this doesn’t apply.

  • Fair enough! I understand that asking me to show my passport or ID cards is okay. – Shan-Desai Nov 3 '18 at 14:14
  • Yeah. The border agents get very grumpy if you hand it to them with any sort of cover on it. – RoboKaren Nov 3 '18 at 14:16
  • All 'do it yourself' machines also have the notice that you have to take your passport out of their covers, at least all I have seen. – Willeke Nov 3 '18 at 14:19
  • The question is about Security scans, not about immigration and border controls. These are two very different things. – Aganju Nov 3 '18 at 21:17
  • @Aganju thanks. The question is worded strangely but I think you’re right. – RoboKaren Nov 3 '18 at 21:30
4

TSA (='security') is not concerned about your passport and RF-IDs, and won't care about how you pack them. They are looking for dangerous items, and unless your RF-protected wallet is large enough to store a bomb or a knife inside, they don't care about it.

They will probably be able to see through it anyway; RF secure is not the same as X-ray proof. The x-ray machines can easily see through a laptop case, so a simple wallet will not block the (unless it has several millimeters of lead lining).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.