All Categories

Effective Ways to Remove and Deactivate an RFID Tag

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Feb 13, 2024
  • RFID
Effective Ways to Remove and Deactivate an RFID Tag

"To remove and deactivate a UHF RFID tag, use the kill password through a handheld reader or remove the tag from the surface and destroy it by passing charge (electricity) through the antenna or simply cutting the antenna lines attached to the RFID chip."

Like EAS tags and barcodes, RFID tags are also becoming quite a trend. It might still take a few years to see RFID tags everywhere but in back-end business processes, RFID has become a reliable technology. RFID tags are small electronic devices that contain a microchip and an antenna. These tags are used for storing some form of identification data and to transmit that data when interrogated by an RFID reader, which is another electronic device that is used to send out interrogating RF signals and to receive and decode the data coming from RFID-tagged objects.

While RFID tags are now increasingly being used in retail businesses, one can now find one on a shirt, it is important to know how to remove or destroy an RFID tag. Reusing an RFID tag is also a common practice. Let’s know more about RFID tags, how they are made, and how to deactivate or destroy an RFID tag in detail:

Understanding an RFID tag/label

Radiofrequency identification is an efficient way to identify objects and individuals. Barcoding is another technology that is used for product identification and it has been in use for decades. You might have seen a barcode on a grocery product or a pair of jeans (barcode label). However, barcoding technology doesn’t come close to what RFID technology has to offer. 

An RFID tag, hard tag, label or inlay, can be attached to an object either by affixing it with adhesive, stringing it as a label, or mounting it with screws if it’s an RFID hard tag. These RFID tags are fabricated, a rather complex task, using a microchip, antenna, and supporting material such as polyester, paper, and plastic for casing, etc. The silicon microchip in an RFID tag is responsible for storing the necessary information and the antenna is important for receiving the interrogating signal coming from the RFID reader and transmitting the information encoded in the tag as RF signals. 

The cost of RFID tags is higher than barcodes and that is due to silicon microchips and the complex fabrication process. Chipless RFID tags are also available in the market that don’t require complex fabrication since these tags don’t come with silicon microchips. In chipless RFID tags, the data is encoded using resonators and reflective materials and time domain and frequency domain encoding techniques.

Can we leave the RFID tag on?

RFID tags are increasingly being used in retail stores, be it supply chains, store management, operation management, inventory and POS. RFID labels are even sewn into apparel nowadays. 

In 2003, the Italian fashion brand Benetton decided to introduce RFID tags on clothes but it was met with protests by activists and called off. The privacy and safety concerns caused the protests. 20 years later, we are still unsure of what to do with the RFID label on our shirts.

Can we leave the RFID tag on? As it happens, yes you can. You can have it deactivated at the retail shop itself and let it be sewn into your shirt. It is completely safe to do so. Alternatively, you can have it removed. It is just a few stitches, right?

Many retail businesses also repurpose or reuse the RFID tag once the product is sold, the same as you do with EAS hard tags. The RFID tag is removed from the merchandise and assigned to a new product through the retail asset management system. 

Effectively Remove an RFID tag

If you decide to remove an RFID tag from your stereo, TV, Sofa, or your t-shirt, you can do so quite easily. Some RFID tags are mounted using screws and you can remove them using a screwdriver. Others are either affixed with adhesive (on your laptop) or sewn into (your shirt). You can carefully remove it and destroy it or make it dysfunctional. 

Deactivating an RFID tag: How to Destroy an RFID Tag?

Deactivating or destroying an RFID tag is not a complicated task. Many businesses that use RFID tags for asset tagging can also reuse them as well as destroy them for good when required. Following are the ways you can deactivate or destroy an RFID tag:

Deactivating an Active RFID tag

Active RFID tags come with batteries and you can remove the battery to make it useless. You can also overload the circuit with electricity in order to kill an RFID tag.

Deactivating a Passive LF/HF RFID tags 

In the case of passive LF/HF RFID tags, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) near the RFID device would destroy the microchip, without any visible damage. You can also use naked electricity wire ends to pass access current to fry the IC but do so safely and don’t electrocute yourself in the process. 

Deactivating Passive UHF RFID tags

RAIN RFID tags or passive UHF RFID tags come with a dedicated access code and kill the password. The kill password is specifically for deactivation purposes. The standard practice in retail stores is to use passive UHF RFID tags like a label hanging by a thread, and remove it at POS. In case of a UHF RFID label sewn into a clothing item, the staff can use the kill password to deactivate the tag irrevocably. It is done using the RFID reader at POS.

Use an RFID tag deactivator

Alternatively, one can use an RFID tag deactivator. Just like the EAS tag deactivator, the RFID tag deactivator uses EM fields to destroy the circuit and render the tag useless. 

RFID tag deactivator pads cost around $20 or more and can deactivate up to 200 tags per second. 

To conclude, RFID tags are extensively being used in retail stores and somehow find their way into consumers’ homes. To safeguard the safety of consumers and to solve privacy concerns, these tags could be deactivated or detached at the source, before customers leave the store.

One can simply use an RFID tag deactivator to deactivate the tag or use an RFID reader and the kill password to deactivate a RAIN RFID tag. Passing electricity through the RFID tag circuit would also do the trick. It will destroy the RFID tag for good and you won’t be able to reuse it. 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Oct 12, 2023

Get Free RFID System Consultation.

Scan the QR code
Click to chat here