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7 Tips For Traveling With Bitcoin Keys



DIY Multisig vs. Collaborative Custody Multisig

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

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

Think about these seven suggestions for touring together with your bitcoin in a approach that retains you in management whereas minimizing danger.

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 may safe your bitcoin financial savings in chilly storage multisig, whereas nonetheless carrying some sats in a scorching 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 nearly all of your financial savings in a safe chilly storage setup, corresponding to multisig, that eliminates single factors of failure.

2. Think about your vacation spot

Think about your vacation spot and journey plans when evaluating the dangers of touring together with your bitcoin keys. What’s the relative crime danger 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 will probably be stolen. Preserve good smartphone safety, and keep away from holding keys to vital quantities of bitcoin on that machine. Minimizing potential bitcoin losses by solely conserving small quantities in cell wallets is one consideration, however even storing keys to multisig wallets in your smartphone when touring can improve the possibilities of compromise, necessitating an arduous key substitute.

For those who’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 would imply guaranteeing 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

You must at all times safe your seed phrases, however do not forget 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 information is mostly secured inside a safe component, 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 go away your seed phrase backups in a safe storage location and journey with a number of {hardware} wallets.

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For those who should journey with a seed phrase backup

You would possibly have to journey with a seed phrase backup in some conditions. Transferring everlasting bodily residences (we revealed a information that it’s best to learn if that is your state of affairs) 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.

For those who should journey with a seed phrase, there are issues you are able to do to attenuate the prospect 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 metallic locks or instances. In case your bag will get pulled for suspicion, there’s a a lot larger likelihood your seed phrase will probably be seen.
  • Use a passphrase for singlesig wallets: PINs can shield a {hardware} pockets, however a passphrase will shield your seed phrase! Whereas passphrases are typically dangerous in comparison with different custody setups like multisig, it will 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!).
  • Make the most of touring companions: Think about a multisig pockets (see under), give a journey companion one seed phrase, hold one seed phrase in your particular person, and retailer one seed phrase on a {hardware} pockets in a checked bag, for instance. For those who completely should be sure that one seed phrase is already at your vacation spot, you’ll be able to compromise one by storing it briefly 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 generally, 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 identified that you simply would possibly 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 just speak about bitcoin much less! Be cautious when “spreading the phrase.”
  • Don’t put bitcoin stickers in your laptop computer or units: These are like large neon indicators that say, “this machine is storing non-public key information!”
  • 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. Figuring out you’re a higher-value goal would possibly make an attacker contemplate extra excessive or dangerous actions.

Notably, these behaviors can create bodily danger when touring even when you don’t have any non-public key information in your particular person. If somebody tries to assault you with a $5 wrench and also you don’t have any bitcoin to offer them, your bitcoin would possibly survive, however your kneecaps won’t!

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, completely separate out of your main one, you could activate in duress situations. With these, you usually add funds you’re keen to lose however vital sufficient to make the attacker suppose they obtained what they wished.

There are a number of 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 in your essential pockets. All the time contemplate the tradeoffs of utilizing a passphrase, nonetheless, and at all times guarantee you’ve got your passphrase correctly backed up (it’s case-sensitive).


For those who 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 shield your self by utilizing 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 may entry the funds despatched to the singlesig pockets related to that seed whereas not accessing—and even understanding 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 offers an attacker entry to a second decoy pockets. For those who’re attacked, give the attacker the incorrect PIN and allow them to have the smaller subset of funds in that pockets.

For instance, the Coldcard {hardware} pockets presents 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 main bitcoin keys—if any in any respect.

6. Think about multisig to remove single factors of failure

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

There are lots of distinctive capabilities that multisig opens for you when you’re touring. Every of the next have safety implications and trade-offs to contemplate past the scope of this text, however you may:

  • Distribute held keys whereas touring: You may journey on a airplane with a 2-of-3 multisig the place one key’s in your particular person, one other key’s 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 return collectively to spend funds.
  • Digitally retailer a seed phrase: Quickly compromising a seed phrase by storing it in a password supervisor ensures that not 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 substitute for any seed phrase briefly saved on an internet-connected machine.
  • Mail your self a {hardware} pockets or seed phrase: For those who’re touring with substantial bitcoin funds and also you don’t wish 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 particular person, after which nonetheless be capable to spend funds once you arrive.
  • Companion countersigns: A custody companion, 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 should utilize a device like Sparrow, Electrum, or our very personal Caravan to assemble multisig wallets your self, and when you need assistance establishing multisig or understanding journey greatest practices within the context of collaborative custody, now we have a workforce 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 understanding that your bitcoin will probably be rightfully handed to your subsequent of kin with no hitch.

This is able to be very troublesome 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 companion in your multisig setup—can provide the better of all worlds: handy entry to your self-custody bitcoin and peace of thoughts understanding will probably be taken care of in your absence.

We beforehand wrote an article explaining the intricacies of how one can arrange an inheritance plan in your bitcoin if that’s one thing you wish to contemplate earlier than touring.

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Extra bitcoin safety issues

Touring procedures are essential, however there’s a lot extra to bitcoin key safety. Remember to take a look at our guides for seed phrase storage greatest practices, the trade-offs concerned with paper vs. metallic seed phrase backups, and when you use multisig, correct safety of your pockets config data and rules for storing seed phrases in secure deposit bins.

Initially revealed on

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