What is RFID Technology?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology refers to systems that allow information contained in a wireless device or "tag" to be read from a distance. The technology has been commercially available in one form or another since the 1970s. It is now part of our daily lives and can be found in car keys, employee identification cards, medical history/billing, highway toll tags, and security access cards. The United States Government uses RFID technology for border management and has encouraged states to enhance their driver's licenses and identification documents in order to both satisfy WHTI requirements and facilitate the processing of cross-border traffic.
RFID at the Borders
For border management, "vicinity RFID technology" is used. This means an RFID-enabled document can be securely and accurately read by authorized readers from between 10 and 15 feet away, as a traveler approaches inspection lanes at the border. As the RFID chip is read, it signals a database to display biographical information, a photo, and the results of terrorist/criminal checks to the CBP officer as the vehicle pulls up to the inspection booth. No personal information is stored on or transmitted from the card – only a number which points to the information housed in the secure database – meeting the most stringent requirements for safeguarding personal data.
While RFID technology expedites cross-border traffic, it does NOT replace face-to-face interactions between officers and travelers. Instead, it allows officers to focus even greater time and attention on each individual in a vehicle in order to verify that they are the rightful holder of the document presented.
Which documents are RFID-Enabled?