If the RFID in my new passport is unreadable, will I be unable to fly?

If the RFID in my new passport is unreadable, will I be unable to fly?

I’ll be traveling next month so I have to be sure. The passport may have been bent. I’m considering just taking it to the airport and checking it’s functionality. The last page states the electronics are “sensitive” but I don’t know how sensitive.


Won’t be a problem, although it could slow you down a little. Actually, given recent security concerns, you might be better off if it was unreadable.

I’ve flown quite a bit internationally in the past few years, and I have yet to see an airport that requires the RFID be read. It is required at many places (including the US) that the passport be machine readable, but that just means that the two lines of code at the bottom of your identification page can be swiped through an optical reader.

You should have no problem at all unless there is substantial damage to your passport, like you ran it through the wash or it is apparent that it was tampered.

I don’t think other countries can read them. Maybe Canada, but I doubt it. And the US can’t keep a citizen out on your return, so that’s not an issue. Might take a few extra minutes, but it’s nothing to worry about.

Some people ruin their chips on purpose, or so I have heard.

I wouldn’t exactly consider an article written in April 2005 to be the authoritative source for “recent security concerns,” especially regarding anything of a technical nature.

Since that article, for example, the US has issued RFID passports employing Basic Access Control and RF shield covers. Whether or not one considers that secure enough is dependant on a personal level of paranoia, I suppose.

I am quite sure that the passport is just as good even if the RFID does not work. The RFID is just for their convenience. In fact, I read somewhere (on the internet) instructions on how to disable the RFID whithout damaging the passport. If I remember correctly it just involved a blow with a hammer to that page in such a way that it would disable the guts but would not damage the cover.

I don’t think my passport even has an RFID chip; it’s too old. But I travel on it anyhow.

Here’s a fresh article about RFID passports that some people might find interesting. While it’s a UK article, the same system is widely used. (So that countries can use the same scanners, etc.)

As for this particular thread, note the statement:

“Last year it was revealed that RFID chips only have a two year warranty, despite being issued in documents designed to last for ten years.”

I.e., they are expecting a small percentage of them to naturally fail.