How To: Plan and Perform a Lightning Contact

What is it? A lightning contact (LC), also known as a “brush pass,” is used to exchange items with an unknown contact, without having to stop, talk to them, or be seen with them.

How do I start? Plan separate walking routes for you and your contact. The routes should meet—very briefly—out of sight of surveillance. LCs take place at these “convergence points.”

Such as? Maybe a dog-leg in a walled passage way; or a flight of stairs that doubles back on itself. Just make sure the convergence point is open at the right time!

How does it work? You will wait somewhere natural just before the time of the LC. Park benches or bus stops are good options. As your contact passes, follow them to the convergence point and overtake them, performing the LC as you do so.

How will my contact know who I am? Exchange recognition signals as your contact approaches. This might be folding a newspaper or tying a shoelace. Come up with your own ideas, but they must be distinctive.

And then? After the exchange, it’s important you move away from the convergence point in different directions.

Anything else? Make sure you both have cover for being there.


Exchange recognition signals as your contact approaches. This might be folding a newspaper or tying a shoelace. Come up with your own ideas, but they must be distinctive.