What’s the difference between active and passive RFID tags?

RFID tags are composed of several components—a micro-chip, a substrate (e.g., Mylar or plastic coating), and an antenna, which is attached to the micro-chip.

The primary difference between active and passive RFID tags is that active tags incorporate a built-in power supply, while passive tags use the power from the electromagnetic wave from the RFID reader to send its data to the reader. Apart from this primary distinction, you’ll find more in-depth differences in the table below.

 Active TagsPassive Tags
PowerPowered by internal source (e.g., battery or solar cell)Rely on the RFID reader for power
SizeTypically larger than passive tagsTypically smaller than active tags
Extra FeaturesCan be equipped with additional features, such as microprocessors and sensorsN/A
PriceMore expensiveLess expensive 
RangeOver 100 meters¹Up to 10 meters¹
FrequencyTypically operate in UHF (ultra-high frequency)Can operate in LF (low frequency), HF (high frequency), or UHF (ultra-high frequency)
¹ — value is an approximation and may vary greatly 

To see the various RFID/NFC tags sold by Serialio, visit the Tags & Wristbands section of our store. If you need help deciding which tag is best for your unique solution, feel free to contact us at!