Radio Frequency Identification Tag

What Does Radio Frequency Identification Tag Mean?

A Radio Frequency Identification Tag (RFID tag) is an electronic tag that exchanges data with a radio frequency identification (RFID) reader by using radio waves.


Most RFID tags are made up of at least two main parts. The first is an an antenna, which receives radio frequency (RF) waves. The second is an integrated circuit (IC), which is used for processing and storing data, as well as modulating and demodulating the radio waves received/sent by the antenna.

An RFID tag is also known as a RFID chip.

Techopedia Explains Radio Frequency Identification Tag

Although RFID tags have similar applications to barcodes, they are far more advanced. For instance, reading information from a RFID tag does not require line-of-sight and can be performed over a distance of a few meters. This also means that a single tag can serve multiple readers at a time.

In the context of RFID technology, the term “tag” also includes labels and cards. The kind of tag depends on the body or object to which the tag is attached. RFID systems can operate in either Ultra High Frequency (UHF), High Frequency (HF) or Low Frequency (LF). Tags can vary in terms of the frequencies on which they operate.

RFID tags can be attached to almost any object. Although the usual target objects are apparel, baggages, containers, construction materials, laundry and bottles, they also may be attached to animals, humans and vehicles. Some RFID tags are designed for rugged, outdoor-based applications.

These are built to endure natural and incandescent light, vibration, shock, rain, dust, oil and other harsh conditions. They are normally passive in that to function, they do not require batteries and can operate 24/7 without risk of power loss. Such heavy-duty tags are usually attached to trucks, cargo containers and light rail cars for cargo tracking, fleet management, vehicle tracking, vehicle identification and supply container tracking.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.