In the next months I’m going to travel abroad with my laptop and my Ledger Nano S. I’ll visit most of the EU countries, Russia, China, Brazil, U.S. and Canada. I’m an EU citizen.

I was wondering if I could get in trouble for bringing abroad my laptop where I have some sensitive informations encrypted with 4096 bits keys, thus File level encryption. I also have disk level encryption with bitlocker on Windows 10 and sha256 with luks on the Linux /home partition.

I would like to know which is my right to refuse to unlock my laptop or my Ledger whether I’m intimated to do so by a customs officer.

As far as I know as an EU citizen in the EU I can refuse to unlock my devices without violating any law, BTW I also posted on travel.se as suggested, and according to comments and answers I'm probably wrong on this.

  • That last paragraph standing alone would be a much better question. You might also be better off asking in travel.se Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 16:40
  • I asked on SuperUser, got a suggestion to post on travel. Posted on travel, got suggestion on posting here. :(
    – Marco
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 16:51
  • @MartinBonner question edited, does it better suites site's topic now?
    – Marco
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 17:37
  • 1
    Just make sure you can live with having your devices confiscated for months or years. Sometimes they argue that refusing to unlock the device provides the reasonable suspicion the need to force you to unlock it. Comment because no source etc.
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 19:31
  • The Russians already know who you are by tracing the computer you used to make this post. If you bring your computer, they will seize it in the guise of a random mugging or hotel break in. Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


Refusing to unlock is certainly your right — pretty much like the border control has the right to refuse entry if you are not citizen of the country outside EU. You should pretty much expect that they will use that right of theirs if you use yours, and that would certainly be not the biggest trouble you might get.

If you really need to prevent access to your information I would recommend doing it smarter than refusing. For example, keep it on a hidden partition (which a tech savvy customs officer may still be able to spot though) or not on the device at all — use online/cloud services.

  • Thank you. I already thought to this workaround, unfortunately this means moving data and money in a less secure spot. I'll have to find the right tradeoff.
    – Marco
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 6:46
  • Commenting on the travel.se post linked in the OP someone points that crossing the border with a cryptocurrency hardware wallet is the same as crossing it with cash and any amount should be declared. This sounds awful to me, and ridiculous. The wallet is just they key, money’s on the blockchains. It’s like if I cross the border with the 2FA code generator for my Internet banking and customs pretends to know how much I have and inspect my bank account. Would you integrate your answer taking into account this aspect too? I can’t see how it can be considered cash or checks.
    – Marco
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 9:56

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