Passport Chip Not working? 4 Recommended Steps to Take

Passport Chip Not working? 5 Recommended Steps to Take

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Modern passports have come a long way, with technology like biometric chips now standard in many countries.

These chips not only store critical personal information, but also add an extra layer of security to your travel document. But what if your passport chip isn’t working? We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide outlining the actions you need to take.

How to Tell When Your Passport Chip is Not Working

While you can’t easily tell when your passport chip isn’t working, there are a few signs to watch out for:

One of the most obvious indicators is when your passport is having trouble being scanned at the e-passport gates.

These gates are designed to read the information stored on the chip. If your passport is repeatedly rejected or if you’re having to repeatedly scan your passport at these gates, there’s a high chance that the chip isn’t working as it should.

You can also try checking if you have problems using your passport for any services that rely on chip reading technology.

For instance, some hotels and banks use passport scanners for identification. If these systems can’t read your passport, it might mean the chip is malfunctioning.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are currently apps that could be used to check these things, as long as your phone is NFC enabled.

Also, the physical condition of your passport could give you some clues.

While what consistitutes a damaged passport isn’t necessarily a visibly worn-out or damaged passport, there are also chances it could mean the chip has been compromised.

Passports damaged by water
Passports damaged as a result of minor water | Source: Travel + Leisure

Now, don’t panic if you suspect that your passport chip isn’t working.

It’s important to note that even if the chip is not functioning, your passport remains a valid travel document as long as it’s within its expiration date, unless your passport as a whole is also damaged.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you suspect your passport chip might not be working. So, what should you do next? Let’s walk through the recommended steps:

1. Double-check at another scanner

Your first instinct might be to assume the worst, but before you do, consider giving another scanner a try.

Sometimes the issue isn’t your passport at all; the scanner could be malfunctioning. Different airports and services use different models and types of scanners, each with its own quirks.

a man checking passport again after passport chip wasn't working

Therefore, if you encounter an issue at one scanner. Find another scanner – maybe at a different e-gate or a different service – and try scanning your passport again.

2. Inspect your passport

If your passport fails to work at different scanners, take a closer look at your document.

The chip is embedded within the cover of your passport, so any severe physical damage – like excessive bending, water damage, or exposure to extreme temperatures – could affect the chip.

Scan your passport for such damage, and don’t forget the less obvious spots. Is the passport excessively worn out? Are there any unusual bends or folds? These factors might be influencing the chip’s functionality.

3. Contact the issuing authority

Upon confirming that your passport chip is likely malfunctioning, you might want to contact the authority that issued your passport.

This would be the U.S. Department of State for American citizens, for example. Reach out to them, explaining your predicament in detail.

They may provide you with some additional troubleshooting steps, or they might confirm that your chip is indeed faulty. Either way, they are best equipped to advise on the next steps, and contacting them ensures you’re proceeding in the correct, official manner.

4. Apply for a replacement

If the issuing authority determines that your passport chip cannot be repaired, you’ll need to apply for a replacement passport.

This process is usually quite similar to that of applying for a new passport. You’ll likely need to fill out specific forms, submit a passport-sized photo, and may even need to surrender your damaged passport.

Remember to ask the issuing authority about the process specific to your country. Also, it’s worth noting that there might be a fee associated with replacing your passport, so be prepared for this potential expense.

For instance, in the US, yes there’s a fee.


At the end of the day, even though passport chips are designed to last, they’re not immune to issues. But now you know what to do if your passport chip isn’t working. Follow these recommended steps, and you’ll be well on your way to resolving the issue.

Happy traveling!

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