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Passport 101



What is Passport?

Passport is a completely open source hardware wallet designed by the Foundation Devices team. Passport is designed to keep your Bitcoin private keys safe and secure whilst also making interacting with them as smooth as possible. Passport leverages much of its base level firmware and functionality from the Bitcoin hardware wallet titan Coldcard and much like the Coldcard, is designed with the utmost security in mind. Passport aims to package this experience in a polished looking product that appeals more to the less ‘tech savvy’ user.

Passport front view


Why use Passport?

Passport maintains its focus on generating and securing your Bitcoin private keys in a completely offline manner. To support this endeavour, the device comes with absolutely zero ports for cables, not even for power! The device runs on 2x AAA batteries (supplied with the device) and communicates with the outside world via QR codes or a microSD card (2x industrial grade supplied with the device). Passport leverages the security best practice of ‘air gapping’, this practice allows the device to communicate with wallet software like Sparrow or Blue without ever needing to be physically connected to your internet connected laptop or phone.

Rear of device with and without the magnetic rear cover

The Passport bears resemblance to an old style Nokia mobile phone which might help it go undetected to the untrained eye! The device itself comes in at just 4 inches tall and boasts a ‘T9’ style keypad which makes long passphrase entry easier than some of its competitors. The menu system is simple and easy to navigate and the UI is very responsive to inputs made via the keypad. Newer users will find the guided ‘Pair Wallet’ screen useful for pairing their Passport to the following wallet software: -

Size comparison with an iPhone 7


Features

Below is a brief run down of the Passport’s main features. You can find more detail on their documentation page.

How does it work?

Passport can be used with all popular desktop software and also works well with Blue Wallet. For the the rest of this guide I will walk you through the process of using your Passport with Sparrow Wallet, an incredibly feature rich desktop wallet worth checking out. Whilst not absolutely essential, I would advise anyone using Sparrow to do so with their own back end server. This will enable you to preserve your transactional privacy and be a more sovereign bitcoiner!

The rest of this guide will be broken down into the following steps: -

  1. Initial setup
  2. Pairing with Sparrow
  3. Receive a transaction
  4. Sending a transaction
  5. Other features

Initial Set Up

Validation + PIN

Validation Screen

Validation Screen #2

Security words

Landing screen


Upgrade Firmware

Current firmware

Hash result

Updated firmware


Create a Seed

There is currently no option to add your own entropy to the seed generation stage, though this is on the team’s roadmap. If you don’t want to wait for this feature and also don’t want to trust the device’s seed generation, you can import your own via the Restore Seed option

Seed generation

Encrypted backup password


View Seed Words

Anyone with access to this, has access to your bitcoin. Keep it somewhere secure!

Seed word display


Pairing with Sparrow Wallet

The following steps are going to import a ‘Watch Only’ version of your Passport’s wallet into Sparrow. From then on Sparrow can receive bitcoin to addresses controlled by your Passport, but cannot spend from them without a valid signature which can only be provided by Passport. If you’d like to familiarise yourself with Sparrow Wallet before moving forward, you can do so here.

Wallet name

Wallet type selection

Wallet import method

Ensuring you are in a well lit environment will help the scan process

Wallet export QR code

Final wallet import screen

Sparrow receive tab


Receiving a Transaction

Always send a small test amount before making any large deposits!

Sparrow transaction tab


Sending a Transaction

Send tab

Finalize transaction screen

Transaction waiting to be signed

Transaction review screen

Broadcast transaction

Congratulations, you just sent a 100% air-gapped transaction!


Other Features

Before sending any significant amount of bitcoin to your Passport you should be 100% comfortable with both recovery methods. Complete the following steps after sending a very small amount into your Passport wallet.

  1. Seed words
  2. Encrypted backup file

Restore from seed

Seed word entry

Restore from backup file

Backup file restore


Add a passphrase

A passphrase is an additional word or phrase that is added to your original seed to creates a completely separate wallet. It can be used as an extra layer of security in case your seed phrase becomes compromised. Without both your seed and your passphrase an attacker cannot access your bitcoin.

You need to specify your passphrase each time you boot the device. Lose or forget your passphrase and you lose access to all of the bitcoin in that wallet

Passphrase application


Verify Address

When using a hardware wallet with an piece of external software like Sparrow or Specter, it is important that you verify the receive address it generates for you. Verifying this on your trusted, offline device (your Passport) you can be sure that your chosen software is acting in good faith. Doing this in Passport is easy…

Pair to Blue Wallet

Using Passport with Blue Wallet provides a great solution for receiving on the go, directly into your cold storage. Connection couldn’t be easier…

As with Sparrow Wallet, the most private way to interact with Blue Wallet is to do so through your own node. Not doing so will share your transactional data with a third party

Blue Wallet


Where can I learn more?

If you want to try Passport for yourself visit their website and for more info on the features visit their documentation.

If you prefer video guides, check out the Foundation team’s YouTube

If you need help setting up your Passport, I offer private support calls for those that benefit from more personalised tuition.

Disclaimer - All views expressed in this article are my own and not those of the Foundation Devices team.


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