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US Passport Cards to contain RFID chips

The US will begin issuing Passport cards for frequent travel between the US and Mexico, Canada, the Carribbean, and Bermuda. These cards will contain Radio Frequenqy Identification Chips linked to government databases.
The following information is copy and pasted from an email sent by Elsa Rosales, Constituent Services Representative for Sen. Wyden, on Thursday, Jan 24 at 4:01pm.


U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for the new U.S. Passport Card beginning February 1, 2008, in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008.

The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same standards.

The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book. The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. For adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.

To facilitate the frequent travel of U.S. citizens living in border communities and to meet DHS's operational needs at land borders, the passport card will contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip will link the card to a stored record in secure government databases. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.

Elsa Rosales

Constituent Services Representative

U..S. Senator Ron Wyden

Learn more about U.S. Passport Card



is it ok to sterilize? 25.Jan.2008 11:52


Can you put this in the microwave?

look it up 25.Jan.2008 15:26

there ARE ways to disable it

but, my guess is that they need the chip to function in order to process you across the border. Anybody know?
Damn, I hate what's happening in this country.

If you disable it, you will invalidate it 25.Jan.2008 15:58


The following was taken from a blog on the subject....

"You can't disable the RFID chip without voiding your passport: "Any passport which has been materially changed in physical appearance or composition, or contains a damaged, defective or otherwise nonfunctioning electronic chip, or which includes unauthorized changes, obliterations, entries or photographs, ... may be invalidated.""


More on disabling the RFID in a passport 25.Jan.2008 16:09


Apparently the US government says that an non-working chip will not invalidate a passport.


Whatever happens, if you have a passport with an RFID chip, you're stuck. Although popping your passport in the microwave will disable the chip, the shielding will cause all kinds of sparking. And although the United States has said that a nonworking chip will not invalidate a passport, it is unclear if one with a deliberately damaged chip will be honored.

Magic Sleeve 25.Jan.2008 16:44


On one of the links provided from the letter, they mention that they have required the cards come with a "magical" sleeve that somehow makes them not trackable (presumably removed when at a checkpoint for those who use them.) Apparently due to concerns of privacy- HAH!

I wonder what the "sleeve" is made of...or if it really works?

re: magic sleeve 25.Jan.2008 22:52

me again

the "RF" in "RFID" stands for "radio frequency [electromagnetic radiation]". in other words, a fancy term for radio waves.

radio waves have difficulty penetrating any conductor. wrapping the passport or passport card in aluminum foil should probably suffice to shield it.

yes, i know this brings up the "tinfoil hat" image -- but in this case, the science is sound. we do know radio waves are being used to read the things, and conductors shield against radio waves.