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
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
Below is a brief run down of the Passport’s main features. You can find more detail on their documentation page.
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: -
Success!message. Press the
VALIDbutton on the Passport to confirm *
Validation Screen #2
.binfile to your computer
.binfile to and run
sha256sum passport-fw-1.0.4.binand check that the resulting hash matches the one displayed on the Foundation Devices release page. An exact match will confirm that the contents of the file you have downloaded are an exact match to the one the developer produced
.binfile onto it
Update Firmwarethen choose the file you just copied onto the microSD
Create New Seed. The device will then randomly generate a set of seed words and save them to the device’s memory.
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
Encrypted backup password
View Seed Words. Make a copy of these seed words onto a robust storage medium.
Anyone with access to this, has access to your bitcoin. Keep it somewhere secure!
Seed word display
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.
New Walletthen give your new wallet a name
Airgapped Hardware Wallet
Wallet type selection
Scannext to the Passport icon will open your computer’s camera
Wallet import method
QR Code. The device will then display a QR code containing the wallet data to be received by Sparrow. Hold Passport up to your computers camera to be read.
Ensuring you are in a well lit environment will help the scan process
Wallet export QR code
Final wallet import screen
Continuethen scan the QR code generated by Sparrow using the camera on your Passport
Sparrow receive tab
Get Next Address
Always send a small test amount before making any large deposits!
Sparrow transaction tab
Sendtab in Sparrow
Finalize transaction for signing
Finalize transaction screen
Sign with QR Codeand scan the animated QR being displayed by Sparrow
Transaction waiting to be signed
Sign. The device will then show an animated QR code containing the details of the (now signed) transaction, ready for broadcast to the Bitcoin network
Transaction review screen
Scan QRto open your computer’s camera
Congratulations, you just sent a 100% air-gapped transaction!
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.
Seed word entry
Backup file restore
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.
Pon top of a shield in the top left corner of the screen
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
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…
Verify Addressand scan the QR code provided by your chosen wallet software
Using Passport with Blue Wallet provides a great solution for receiving on the go, directly into your cold storage. Connection couldn’t be easier…
Scan or import a file
Receivein Blue Wallet and scan the QR code with your Passport to verify a successful import
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
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.