Immigration officer taking passport to a back room

Old Jun 17, 19, 1:24 am
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Immigration officer taking passport to a back room

I was recently exiting a foreign country at a land border. I've crossed that border many times in the past with no issues.

This time, an immigration officer called over a supervisor who took my passport to a back room for 5 minutes. The supervisor told me not to follow him (in a rather forceful tone). When he came back with my passport and said I could go (in a much more calm manner), I asked what the issue was, and he said the chip in my passport failed to scan.

I always carry my passport in a hard case. It has been in good shape and crossed several borders without incident for 8 years.

I know people will be curious as to which border I crossed specifically but I am just looking for general knowledge on this matter. What could have been the real reason? Do I have (and should I exercise) any recourse when my passport is taken out of my possession in this way?
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Old Jun 17, 19, 7:00 am
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The real reason could have been exactly what they said - a problem reading the chip - or not. Perhaps your name is similar to someone else they are interested in. Only they will know.

Recourse? for what? delays are part and parcel of travel. Your delay was exceedingly minimal. But even if the delay had caused you to miss a flight/train/ship a country is not going to let itself be held financially responsible for exercising its sovereign duties to inspect persons attempting to cross its borders.

If you truly suspect your passport was tampered with then contact the passport agency of the country that issued it and ask them for advice. Depending upon your employer or line of work you might notify your employer's security department of the incident.
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Old Jun 17, 19, 7:18 am
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I have had this happen a few times as my passport would not always scan. I was not concerned, but if they took you into the back room I would be worried
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Old Jun 18, 19, 4:37 pm
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As long as you’re not detained behind bars/wire nor deported or abused, chalk it up to another one of life’s stories. And whether or not the chip actually works, well who knows. Fortunately for US passports, the chip need not be functioning for the passport to remain valid or otherwise useful.
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Old Jun 23, 19, 3:36 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
I asked what the issue was, and he said the chip in my passport failed to scan.
That is a very real reason. It happened to me ~5 years ago and I know more people with passports with failed / broken chips.

Next time you enter your home country tell the border officer that you had that problem and ask if she/he can verify the status of the chip. I did that in the UK border and in a Schengen Area border and in 10 sec they confirmed me that the chip was broken.
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Old Jun 24, 19, 3:54 am
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You can verify the chip working yourself. Just download a passport NFC reader app, assuming you're living in the modern age and have a phone with an NFC reader.
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