Passport Won’t Scan at Airport? 3 Reasons and Fixes

3 Reasons Your Passport Won't Scan at Airport

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No one enjoys the inconvenience of a passport refusing to scan at an airport, especially when you’re eagerly anticipating your trip.

However, technology can sometimes be stubborn, leading to unexpected delays and frustration. This blog post aims to shed light on the possible reasons why this is happening, alongside handy fixes to keep your travel plans on track.

3 Reasons Your Passport Won’t Scan at Airport

It can only be annoying and confusing to find yourself in this situation. However, here are 3 reasons this could have happened:

1. Damaged passport

Yes, it could be as simple as that. Normal wear and tear are common, but sometimes our passports suffer more than they should. If modern, this could lead to the chip not working and other things that could give difficulties in the airport.

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

Water damage, tears, smudges on the barcode—these might seem inconsequential, but they can cause scanning errors. So, keep an eye on your passport’s condition. Make sure your passport chip is working.

2. Incorrect View

Human errors are very common in airports.

At times, the personnel handling the scanners might not position your passport correctly. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially during peak travel times when there’s a rush to keep the lines moving.

A lady scanning passport at the airport but it won't scan

So make sure your scanned multiple times to make sure the problem isn’t as a result of a bad view.

3. System Issues

The third reason is somewhat technical but bear with me. Sometimes, the software running on the scanning machines can have issues.

It might need updating, or there could be a glitch causing it to misread your passport. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about this one – it’s up to the airport staff to ensure their systems are running smoothly.

What happens when your passport Can’t be Scanned?

To be clear, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss your flight. Yes, it’s a hiccup, but airport personnel are trained to handle these situations. They deal with thousands of travelers and countless scenarios each day.

The issue of passports not scanning is common.

Typically, when a passport can’t be scanned, the airport staff will manually input your passport details into their system.

This might take a little longer than the usual scanning process. If you’re in a hurry, this delay might feel longer than it actually is. But hey, let’s look on the bright side – at least they didn’t send you back home, right?

Read Also: How to Scan Your Passport Chip with Phone

Now, if you are dealing with an outdated or malfunctioning scanning system, or if the scanner still can’t read your passport after several attempts, the staff may call for additional assistance.

This could involve getting a supervisor involved or using a backup system.

In rare cases, if the passport can’t be verified manually or if there are suspicions of a counterfeit, you may be directed to a secondary screening process. Here, additional checks will be conducted to verify your identity and travel documents.

How to Avoid Situations Like This

1. Always keep an eye on your Passports

We mean it quite literally. If your passport has taken a bit of a beating and is looking worse for wear, it might be time to get a new one.

Renewing your passport before it starts to fall apart can save you from a lot of stress at the airport. And remember, when you get your shiny new passport, treat it with care. Invest in a sturdy passport cover to keep it safe from spills and tears.

passport covers for your passport safety

You also want to always inspect the MRZ (Machine Readable Zone) of your passport once in a while. Ensure it’s free from smudges or anything that could interfere with the scanning process. A gentle wipe with a soft, dry cloth can work wonders here.

2. Contact Airport Officers on Time

We know that you can’t do much about software glitches in the scanning machines at the airport, but staying patient and polite with the airport staff can go a long way.

They’re there to help you, and they have the know-how to troubleshoot these technical issues.

3. Try Troubleshooting

For instance, in the human error example, if your passport isn’t scanning, ask the personnel to try again, possibly in a different position.

It may seem a small thing, but it can make all the difference.

4. Make Your Passports Isn’t Counterfeit

Finally, counterfeit passports. The simple advice here is never to buy a passport from an unofficial source. Always go through the proper channels to ensure you’re carrying a legal and valid passport.


So, there you have it. The next time your passport doesn’t scan, it’s likely down to one of the 3 reasons shared in this article.

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