If You Want Your Passport without a Chip–Act Now

Wired news reports today that passports are changing–big time–in the US.

“After much ado, the United States has begun or will begin issuing passports with RFID chips in them. The passports now have some anti-skimming features, including Basic Access Control and some sort of internal tin-foil hat.

But the chips are readily clonable, and some security experts still aren’t sure they are a good idea. Also, it’s just plain creepy to be on the same level as a pallet from WalMart.

You might still be able to get a passport without the chip and that passport will be good for 10 years — long enough to get you to the point where new passports will be RFID chips implanted in your neck.

Travel privacy guru Edward Hasbrouck had a good post up in May about how to maximize your chances of getting a chip-less passport, which involves a little extra money anda refundable ticket. The trick still might work.

You can also make sure your passport lasts longer by including with your application a written letter that says you need extra pages.

The government’s page on getting a new passport is here, and renewals are here, but so far, the State Department hasn’t returned my call asking if they are actually issuing the passports, though the last report I read was that they were starting with the Denver office.”