7 Tips For Traveling With Bitcoin Keys

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Correctly taking management of your keys requires taking over some extra accountability, nevertheless it’s an important a part of bitcoin safety. However what occurs when you should journey? If you happen to maintain massive quantities of bitcoin in chilly storage, must you carry the keys to your bitcoin pockets with you? And should you do journey with a number of keys, what steps do you should take to remain safe?

Take into account these seven ideas for touring together with your bitcoin in a means that retains you in management whereas minimizing threat.

1. Carry solely the wallets you want

Bitcoin means that you can segregate funds into a number of wallets so that you solely want to hold the keys you want for smaller quantities of bitcoin. You’ll be able to safe your bitcoin financial savings in chilly storage multisig, whereas nonetheless carrying some sats in a sizzling pockets in your telephone like BlueWallet or Muun.

By solely carrying keys to the wallets you want, you’ll be able to spend and obtain bitcoin whereas leaving the vast majority of your financial savings in a safe chilly storage setup, corresponding to multisig, that eliminates single factors of failure.

2. Take into account your vacation spot

Take into account your vacation spot and journey plans when evaluating the dangers of touring together with your bitcoin keys. What’s the relative crime threat at your vacation spot? Is your vacation spot a high-crime nation or metropolis? What is going to your environment be like?

In case your vacation spot has greater crime charges or pervasive petty theft, assume your telephone might be stolen. Preserve good smartphone safety, and keep away from holding keys to important quantities of bitcoin on that system. Minimizing potential bitcoin losses by solely holding small quantities in cell wallets is one consideration, however even storing keys to multisig wallets in your smartphone when touring can improve the probabilities of compromise, necessitating an arduous key replacement.

If you happen to’re touring to an occasion the place possession of bitcoin is assumed, modify your safety mannequin across the assumption that everybody is aware of you personal bitcoin. That might imply making certain that any singlesig wallets have a passphrase, or securing smaller quantities of bitcoin with multisig and distributing the keys in your belongings whereas touring.

3. Keep away from touring with seed phrase backups

It’s best to always secure your seed phrases, however keep in mind that they’re the unencrypted secret for a given key, making them a lot simpler to compromise than a {hardware} pockets. Whereas your {hardware} pockets’s non-public key knowledge is mostly secured inside a secure element, behind a PIN, and requires a PC to entry, seed phrase backups are simpler to bodily steal, copy, or {photograph}.

For most traditional journey, it’s best to depart your seed phrase backups in a safe storage location and journey with a number of {hardware} wallets.

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If you happen to should journey with a seed phrase backup

You may have to journey with a seed phrase backup in some conditions. Transferring everlasting bodily residences (we published a guide that it’s best to learn if that is your scenario) and touring to arrange a safely-stored key merchandise in a multisig setup are each affordable causes to be touring together with your 12- or 24-word seed phrase.

If you happen to should journey with a seed phrase, there are issues you are able to do to reduce the possibility of publicity and retain peace of thoughts:

  • Stay inconspicuous in airport safety: Put a paper seed phrase backup inside a e-book, or cut up up a seed phrase by writing it in a bodily pocket book utilizing some conference that you’ll keep in mind. Keep away from utilizing suspicious steel locks or circumstances. In case your bag will get pulled for suspicion, there’s a a lot larger likelihood your seed phrase might be seen.
  • Use a passphrase for singlesig wallets: PINs can defend a {hardware} pockets, however a passphrase will defend your seed phrase! Whereas passphrases are generally risky compared to other custody setups like multisig, it might probably make sense to make use of one with a singlesig pockets whereas touring with a seed phrase so long as it’s correctly backed up (don’t depend on your reminiscence!).
  • Reap the benefits of touring companions: Take into account a multisig pockets (see under), give a journey companion one seed phrase, hold one seed phrase in your individual, and retailer one seed phrase on a {hardware} pockets in a checked bag, for instance. If you happen to completely should make sure that one seed phrase is already at your vacation spot, you’ll be able to compromise one by storing it quickly in a password supervisor previous to leaving (see under).

4. Watch what you say and present

Earlier than an attacker can assault, they should know who they’re going after. That is the place operational safety is available in. A lot of this recommendation applies to saving wealth with bitcoin normally, nevertheless it’s particularly relevant whereas touring.

On the go, you’re usually on the whims of individuals and environments you’ll be able to’t management. These are riskier conditions to make it publicly recognized that you just may maintain substantial quantities of bitcoin.

  • Don’t speak about bitcoin with folks you don’t belief: One of many best issues you are able to do is solely speak about bitcoin much less! Be cautious when “spreading the word.”
  • Don’t put bitcoin stickers in your laptop computer or units: These are like huge neon indicators that say, “this device is storing private key data!”
  • Don’t put on bitcoin-related merchandise: Particularly in locations the place folks know what to search for, sporting merchandise or clothes with bitcoin logos unnecessarily places a goal in your again.
  • Don’t speak about how a lot bitcoin you personal: It’s typically a good suggestion to solely share the quantity of bitcoin you maintain on a need-to-know foundation. Understanding you’re a higher-value goal may make an attacker contemplate extra excessive or dangerous actions.

Notably, these behaviors can create bodily threat when touring even should you don’t have any non-public key knowledge in your individual. If somebody tries to assault you with a $5 wrench and also you don’t have any bitcoin to provide them, your bitcoin may survive, however your kneecaps may not!

5. Create a decoy pockets

Whether or not you’re touring with a {hardware} pockets or software program pockets, many wallets let you make a decoy pockets. Decoy wallets let you create a second pockets, solely separate out of your major one, that you would be able to activate in duress eventualities. With these, you sometimes add funds you’re keen to lose however important sufficient to make the attacker suppose they bought what they wished.

There are just a few other ways to arrange a decoy bitcoin pockets:

  1. Singlesig + passphrase
  2. Use one key in a multisig quorum
  3. Duress PIN

Singlesig + passphrase

With a passphrase, you’ll be able to arrange a secondary pockets that might give an attacker entry to a small subset of your funds. You possibly can additionally make the first pockets a decoy whereas utilizing a passphrase on your essential pockets. At all times consider the tradeoffs of using a passphrase, nonetheless, and at all times guarantee you’ve your passphrase correctly backed up (it’s case-sensitive).


If you happen to use multisig, so long as you’ll be able to hold it a secret that any given {hardware} pockets or seed phrase is a part of a multisig setup, you’ll be able to defend your self through the use of one of many keys within the quorum as a decoy. To do that, merely use one {hardware} or software program pockets usually a part of your multisig setup as a standalone pockets. An attacker might entry the funds despatched to the singlesig pockets related to that seed whereas not accessing—and even figuring out about—the pockets constructed with multisig.

Duress PIN

Some pockets makers let you arrange a duress PIN. With this performance, you’ll be able to arrange a second PIN that provides an attacker entry to a second decoy pockets. If you happen to’re attacked, give the attacker the fallacious PIN and allow them to have the smaller subset of funds in that pockets.

For instance, the Coldcard {hardware} pockets gives three varieties of duress PINs: one which unlocks a decoy pockets, one which destroys the seed upon entry, and one which creates a countdown to customizable “brick modes”. These instruments give you confidence that attackers received’t be capable to entry your major bitcoin keys—if any in any respect.

6. Take into account multisig to get rid of single factors of failure

Bitcoin’s native multisig function might help create decoy wallets, nevertheless it’s additionally a robust device for mitigating journey threat typically. Maybe you should journey with non-public keys, however need to keep away from the one level of failure of singlesig wallets. Traveling with three {hardware} wallets, every key held as one in a multisig quorum, might help scale back your threat.

There are various distinctive capabilities that multisig opens for you should you’re touring. Every of the next have safety implications and trade-offs to think about past the scope of this text, however you possibly can:

  • Distribute held keys whereas touring: You’ll be able to journey on a aircraft with a 2-of-3 multisig the place one secret is in your individual, one other secret is in a secret compartment in your carry-on baggage, with a 3rd key and seed phrase backups geographically distributed in different safe places. This retains three keys separated, requiring two of the three to come back collectively to spend funds.
  • Digitally retailer a seed phrase: Briefly compromising a seed phrase by storing it in a password supervisor ensures that no less than one seed phrase backup to your multisig quorum is already at your vacation spot. Whenever you arrive on the vacation spot, you’ll be able to conduct a key replacement for any seed phrase quickly saved on an internet-connected system.
  • Mail your self a {hardware} pockets or seed phrase: If you happen to’re touring with substantial bitcoin funds and also you don’t need to expose your self to theft from bodily assaults in a 2-of-3 multisig whereas touring, for instance, you’ll be able to mail one {hardware} pockets or seed phrase your vacation spot, carry one key in your individual, after which nonetheless be capable to spend funds if you arrive.
  • Associate countersigns: A custody accomplice, whether or not that be a monetary establishment like Unchained or trusted third-party, can coordinate with you to signal transactions whereas touring if you wish to journey with a minority of keys in multisig.

You need to use a device like Sparrow, Electrum, or our very own Caravan to assemble multisig wallets your self, and should you need assistance establishing multisig or understanding journey greatest practices within the context of collaborative custody, we have a team that may enable you with that.

7. Have an inheritance plan

It’s a good suggestion for anybody with substantive bitcoin wealth to have an inheritance plan, however that’s particularly the case when touring. If one thing have been to occur to you whereas touring, you need peace of thoughts figuring out that your bitcoin might be rightfully handed to your subsequent of kin with no hitch.

This may be very tough if touring together with your self-custody bitcoin in a singlesig pockets, however multisig—and even higher for inheritance functions, together with a collaborative custody accomplice in your multisig setup—can provide the better of all worlds: handy entry to your self-custody bitcoin and peace of thoughts figuring out it will likely be taken care of in your absence.

We beforehand wrote an article explaining the intricacies of (*7*) if that’s one thing you need to contemplate earlier than touring.

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Extra bitcoin safety issues

Traveling procedures are vital, however there’s a lot extra to bitcoin key safety. Be sure you try our guides for seed phrase storage best practices, the trade-offs concerned with paper vs. metal seed phrase backups, and should you use multisig, correct safety of your wallet config information and rules for storing seed phrases in safe deposit boxes.

Initially revealed on

Unchained is the official US Collaborative Custody accomplice of Bitcoin Journal and an integral sponsor of associated content material revealed via Bitcoin Journal. For extra info on companies provided, custody merchandise, and the connection between Unchained and Bitcoin Journal, please go to our web site. 

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