What is the purpose of the odd sticker in a new British passport?

  • I have just renewed my British passport, and it contains a very strange sticker. I made a photo of it...

     "Please remove this label"

    It says "Please remove this label". By feeling and pressing the sticker I do not detect anything underneath it. Holding to the light reveals nothing. The pages behind this page are all blank. There is no explanation in the guidance brochure they sent along with the passport (I am one of those people that reads every word of the guidance). Below the sticker there is some text, if you read paragraph 7 you learn that tampering with a British passport may be actionable as a criminal offence. Incredible to relate, this text is on the same page as the sticker they want you to remove.

    Is the purpose of this sticker simply to prove I have examined the passport? Does it replace the wet signature the end user should provide? Or does it flag up if I walk near a scanner? Some kind of electronic signal? If not, what is the purpose of this sticker?

    I will be renewing my American passport later this year. Will it have the same thing? Something that needs to be removed where there's no apparent underlying purpose? What are the Americans doing?

    I do not know the answer and for reasons not worth exposing here I am reluctant to remove it. Yes, I know I can raise paperwork to the Passport Office for an explanation, but it takes a long time and a medium probability of having to approach the Commissioner to get it resolved. And when their answer finally arrived, there's a very good chance I wouldn't believe it anyway.

    Question: what is the purpose of the "Please remove this label" sticker.


    There is an existing thread on the net and Nate Eldredge (to whom thanks) provided the link. Some ideas were floated but the thread degenerated into silly conjectures. They didn't nail it down. If it is some sort of progress indicator, why is it not on the cover?

    A blog entry discovered by cicto (to whom thanks) presents a credible discussion that the sticker contains an electronic circuit. But when it gets to purpose, the article descends into speculation.

    It's suggested here that the label contains an RFID tag. Can you tell if that is the case with yours (you may have to remove it and look on the back)? The theory is that it might be used for tracking within the passport processing center, which seems plausible (albeit boring).

    I should remove it and look on the back of the sticker? What would I look for?

    Something that looks like this, maybe.

    More exciting theory: it's part of this plan and marks you as someone to be killed when the New World Order takes over. ``

    My US passport is 5 years old, so I can't tell you what the US has been doing in the last 5 years. There was no such sticker 5 years ago. I renewed my Dutch passport a few months ago, and there was also no sticker to remove.

    @GayotFow I would first look under it. :)

    @Karlson, unfortunately that step is tantamount to removing it.

    @GayotFow There is candy hiding under it. :)

    @clcto, question updated with your link

    Given that it contains an RFID chip, I would recommend you remove the sticker and ensure that it never comes anywhere near your passport (or anything else you own) again. The last thing you want is card clash at the e-passport gates!

    Certain phones (with NFC capabilities) can read RFID tags via various apps. But since your passport also contains a RF chip I'm not sure if it would be able to tell. Anyway, it's almost certainly for tracking during processing and the reason it's not on the outside is simply so it doesn't rub off in the printing/binding/packing machines. I got a new passport a few months ago, delivered internationally, and there was no sticker. But, interestingly, I can clearly see and feel where it would have been. So, guessing it's removed before they FedEx'd it -- so, almost certainly internal tracking.

    the sticker is not peeling away very well, almost ripping the page underneath! Is it a problem if I leave it in?

    I received my passport today and removed the label, which left an electronic circuit exposed on the passport. The instructions with the passport were poor: "Remove the label at the back of your passport" was all. I searched a lot before I found a page which showed a picture of the label and the circuit peeled off together.

  • JoErNanO

    JoErNanO Correct answer

    6 years ago

    The general consensus on the internet seems to be that the sticker is an RFID chip used by Identity and Passport Service (IPS) to track the production process of the passport from start to shipping. There are many such questions disseminated across the web (here, here and here are a few examples). Most mention stories of people traveling with and without the label on their passport and none seem to have had any problem.

    We are in luck since, as a further proof, this guy peeled the sticker away to inspect it up close and confirmed that on its back lies an RFID chip:

    Label front and back

    Since you are effectively concerned about tampering with the passport, personally I don't think that removing a label which explicitly asks you to do so constitutes tampering. Tampering would be attempting to modify, forge, hide or remove any of the information recorded on the document.

    I suspect that the sticker should have been removed before it was handed over by the passport service.

    @MastaBaba Not of it's used to track the the shipping i.e. the moment in which the document leaves the production facility.

    The instructions I just received are identical to those listed in another answer, and specifically mention removing it and it's tracking capabilities. I assume if a passport is returned due to a failed delivery, the passport office can know what passport is within without even opening it.

    I did some research after my new passport arrives. TAGSYS produce a similar product they dub "GemTRAK" -- http://www.tagsysrfid.com/en-EN/products/tags/gemtrak/7 -- which is based around the same chip as used in the passport stickers, an Impinj MONZA 5 -- http://www.impinj.com/products/tag-chips/monza-5/ . The chip wouldn't read on my phone's NFC (whereas the passport's own RFID scans immediately), so either it's an incompatible frequency or they kill the chip prior to it being dispatched. I suspect it's likely incompatible with MIFARE/Topaz NFC standards.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM