UK Passport: ‘Please Remove This Label’ Sticker Explained
Finally got your brand new travel document with an updated photo? Congratulations!
So, you quickly thumb through the blank pages to make sure there’s nothing wrong… Wait, what’s that little yellow sticker on the last page that says ‘Please remove this label‘? The words are put in black bold against the yellow background, which gives them a warning-sign-like look, that’s strange. To top it off, the instructions on that very page state that it’s a criminal offence to tamper with your passport…
Is it some kind of trick? What do you do with this strange sticker? Why is it even there? Is it supposed to cover something? In this post, we’ll try to get to the bottom of this and answer the what, why and how.
Modern times require modern solutions: once you’ve noticed the strange yellow sticker, the first thing that comes to your mind is to google it.
However, be careful there: in the search results, the answers are hidden among numerous forum threads where people make the wildest of suggestions. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend digging through conspiracy theories about passport stickers.
Instead, you should either contact the support service of His Majesty’s Passport Office or read this post, as we’ve done our homework and filtered out all the relevant information to give you the answer.
Long story short: the general consensus on the Internet is that the yellow label in your British passport is actually an RFID chip. If you inspect the removed sticker up close, you’ll be able to see the typical square outline and the word TAGSYS written in it – it’s the name of a company that makes chips and readers for them.
But What Exactly Is an RFID Chip?
Let’s start with the abbreviation.
RFID stands for radio frequency identification which is a method used in many areas to automatically identify objects by use of radio signals.
A typical RFID system comprises of three parts: software, a reader and one or more transponders, also called tags.
The RFID method allows to automate identification of any objects. The process is pretty simple: the data from the tag is sent to the reader and the software displays it.
So, an RFID chip is a tag integrated into the yellow stickers and used to track the passport. And now you may be wondering who needs to track it and why. And there is no reason to be worried: it’s not a dystopian technology used for spying, so no Big Brother analogies here.
The most probable scenario here is that this sticker is used by His Majesty’s Passport Office for tracking purposes during production. In other words, it’s most likely that by applying it to your future document the government department just identifies it and makes sure it isn’t lost during the manufacturing, checking or shipping stage.
A further proof of this theory: HMPO themselves attach a note to the passports they send out, and that note clearly says ‘the label on the back of your passport was used during the production process and can now be removed‘.
Strictly speaking, it doesn’t seem like the UK law obliges people to remove these stickers. The Internet knows cases where people went through passport control with the RFID tag still in its place, and, as far as we know, no one had any problems whatsoever because of it.
In any case, there isn’t a single reason for you to keep it (unless you strangely find it too stylish to remove). Despite the fact that the very same page says that tampering with your passport is prohibited, removing the sticker cannot constitute tampering, especially if the HMPO themselves explicitly ask you to do it.
So, don’t worry. Just remove the sticker and throw it away, as it has already served its purpose and is no longer useful to anyone.
Quite often, peeling off any stick-on tags turns out to be quite a piece of work. For instance, if someone put passport stickers on the cover of your document (say, at the airport check-in desk during one of your recent trips) and you forgot about it, things can get pretty bad later.
What we mean is that days after the flight it can become quite difficult to remove without leaving glue residue on your precious document (after all, it’s pretty expensive to get a new one). Well, you can always try a goo remover, nail polish or even olive oil to rub it off. Just make sure you don’t damage your passport in the process, as making a new one will take some effort (although we can at least help you with your passport photo).
Thankfully, you won’t need to put in any significant effort when removing the ‘Please remove this label’ sticker. Just use your fingernail, and it should peel off nice and smooth without leaving any sticky residue. That’s pretty much it, we hope that this post has answered all the questions you had! If you have a comment or suggestion, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts!