Security tape

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tamper evident security tape which leave a highly visible void message on the surface when removed

Security tape (or security label) is a type of adhesive tape used to help reduce shipping losses due to pilfering and reduce tampering or product adulteration. Often it is a pressure sensitive tape or label with special tamper resistant or tamper evident features. It can be used as a ‘’security seal’’ in addition to a container closure or can be used as a security label. They are sometimes used as or with authentication products and can be an anti-pilferage seal.

Security tapes and labels are sometimes used in conjunction with security envelopes.

Delamination and printing exposure of a security tape on a pallet load
Specimen test bottles with die-cut security strip indicators
Box with circular tamper-evident seal
A security hologram label on a box


Security tapes can be used as packaging tapes on small primary packages such as bottles and cartons or on larger shipping containers such as corrugated boxes. They are also used on unit loads or palletized goods. The strength and adhesive bonding are important. Security labels are usually only used for their security features; backing strength is less important but the bonding characteristics are critical.

Some security tapes have an appearance similar to standard packaging tapes to help conceal the value of a pilferable item. Logistics and packaging professionals do not want to bring attention to the item or its package.[1] Other security tapes have bright colors with high impact graphics.

Security tapes and labels are one part of a broader security system: No one layer of security can provide full protection to shipments of packages. Most security products can be foiled by a knowledgeable person with sufficient time and with access to specialized tools, solvents, extreme temperatures, other security tapes and labels, adhesives, etc.[2][3]

Security tapes and labels usually add security to one point of entry to a container. Other points of unauthorized entry are sometimes available.

Security tapes are also used on access doors for temporary area denial and as tamper indicating seals for sensitive equipment. Some uses of security tapes require stability to sun and heat.[4]


There are many types and constructions of tapes[5][6][7] and labels[8][9] [10] used for security. The use of security printing, holography, embossing, barcodes, RFID chips, etc. is common. Some tape strips and labels have sequential serial numbers, bar codes, etc. Custom printing with corporate logo, etc. is useful but needs to be revised periodically because of creative counterfeiters.

Many security tapes have extra strong backings and high performance adhesives; a damaged or partially open package can be an invitation to theft or tampering. High graphics can draw attention to a package during shipment.

Security tapes often have special features to indicate opening including:

  • Intentionally weak or frangible components
  • Printing which cannot easily be realigned after a cut or tear
  • Layers which easily delaminate, showing entry or removal
  • Hidden print layers which indicate opening
  • Serrations or perforations to make one-piece removal more difficult
  • rfid indicating systems [11]

Security tapes are usually wound on a roll for storage and dispensing. Either a release liner is used or a premium release coating is used on the top surface. Security labels typically employ a release liner and are die-cut.


Sometimes a tape or label is intended to provide a signal of removal or of container tampering: imaging, delamination, fracture, etc. The desired outcome is for the tape or label to correctly indicate attempted or unauthorized container opening. Conversely, it should not signal tampering when there has not been tampering. This is a type of Binary classification.

It may be possible to have a “false negative”: The label is (or appears to be) intact yet tampering has occurred. Depending on the specific security tape/label, there may be specialized means of removing and reattaching the label, covering or obscuring the signaled/activated label, etc. Also tampering could have occurred in a different part of the container. A “false positive” may also be possible, either by accident or with intent.[12]


No Tampering

Tape/Label Signal Correct Signal False Positive
No Signal from Tape/Label False Negative Correct Signal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Green, FW (2009), "Export Packaging", in Yam, K L (ed.), Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology, Wiley (published 2010), ISBN 978-0-470-08704-6
  2. ^ Johnston (2003). Tamper-Indicating Seals: Practices, Problems, and Standards. World Customs Organization, Security. Brussels. Retrieved Apr 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Johnston, R G (1997). "Physical Security and Tamper-Indicating Devices". LA-UR-96-3827. Vulnerability Assessment Team, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  4. ^ Accelerated Aging Studies and Environmental Stability of Prototype Tamper Tapes, US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, 1995, retrieved Apr 12, 2019
  5. ^ US 6544615 B2, Otten, Weniger, "Adhesive security tape for detecting unauthorized broaching of a package", published 2003 
  6. ^ US 4876123 A, Rivera, "Tamper indicating tape and delaminating film therefore", published 1989 
  7. ^ US 5633058 A, Hoffer, Sobel, "Message-indicating self-wound tape and method of making same", published 1995 
  8. ^ 5,042,842, Green, Reiss, Wilson, "High Security Label", published 1991 
  9. ^ US 7594348 B2, Oosterlinck, "Security Label", published 2009 
  10. ^ US8678289B2, Roseman, "Anti-tamper label and item embodying the same", published 2014 
  11. ^ US6888509B2, Artherton, "Tamper indicating radio frequency identification label", published 2005 
  12. ^ Weingart, S H (2000). "Physical Security Devices for Computer Subsystems" (PDF). Workshop on Cryptographic Hardware. Springer. doi:10.1007/3-540-44499-8_24. Retrieved March 13, 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Soroka, W, "Fundamentals of Packaging Technology", IoPP, 2002, ISBN 1-930268-25-4
  • Yam, K. L., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-0-470-08704-6
  • Rosette, J. L, "Improving Tamper-Evident Packaging: Problems, Tests and Solutions", 1992