The Difference Between Unrestricted Keys and Restricted Keys

Written by Big Red Locksmiths on . Posted in Blog

Big Red Locksmiths - Unrestricted Keys and Restricted Keys“Do Not Duplicate” keys can be easily reproduced leading to businesses feeling concerned about the security of their locations as well as the safety of their employees entering the location without authorization. While, in an earlier blog, we discussed the subject of how easy it is to actually duplicate these “DND” keys, and the absence of laws prohibiting it, there are a couple key alternatives for business owners in keeping the business location secure and keeping intruders away.

At Big Red Locksmiths, we’ve helped hundreds of Omaha businesses with the solutions of restricted and unrestricted keys. Either may be marked “Do Not Duplicate,” which can admittedly cause confusion with regard to the actual security of the key itself. At Big Red Locksmiths, we wish to clear up the difference to help you understand what key solution would be the best;

What are Unrestricted Keys?

Unrestricted keys are available almost anywhere that can create keys, including hardware stores or at self-service key copying locations. While these keys can be created in less than 3 minutes or less, the customer service with the creation of these keys at a hardware store may be lacking as they wish to get you in and get you out as soon as possible so they can continue on to their next tasks or customer. In addition, if your unrestricted keys carry the “Do Not Duplicate” stamp, the employee might not want the conflict of telling the customer no so they may opt to copy the key anyway leaving no protection to you, the business owner, from having your office key copied.

While some hardware stores are very stringent on their key copying protocols, there are just as many (or more) who will cut a new key for you with no questions asked.

What are Restricted Keys?

Restricted keys are only available from certain key makers, such as a locksmith shop like Big Red Locksmith. Restricted keys are a little more difficult to duplicate, leading to a key expert being needed to ensure the key is created properly as well as honoring the rules of a restricted key.

The process to duplicate a restricted key goes beyond simply replicating the existing key. Code machines are used by locksmiths experts to match manufacturer’s specifications and steps are taken to validate the identity of the person requesting the copy. Most restricted keys fall under protections of US patent law and carry a $10,000 penalty for unauthorized duplication.

Choose the Right Key for the Level of Security Needed

Clearly, restricted keys would provide a higher level of security for your business than would unrestricted keys. Knowing when to choose one over the other depends on many variables. For example:

  • Is it a situation where keys may need to be frequently duplicated, such as a situation where you frequently add employees who need key access? You’ll likely want to use an unrestricted key so you can duplicate them easily and whenever needed.
  • Is security an absolute deal-breaker? You need a restricted key that requires verification prior to duplication.

Not sure which type of key would be best for your business or home security purposes?

That’s where a local locksmith can help. Big Red Locksmiths can determine if you can legally duplicate a key and create key copies that work every time. Call us at 402-554-0499 to determine exactly the right key to keeping your business safe and secure.


  • "Big Red Locksmiths provide GREAT service from start to finish! I have been very pleased with their work for many years! Fast reliable service always!"

  • "Big Red Locksmiths came highly recommended when I needed a duplicate key for my Ford truck. The personnel at Big Red were friendly, extremely knowledgeable, and efficient! I expected to wait some time for my key to be programmed, but I had barely become settled in the waiting area when my key was ready and waiting. The key has worked great with no problems! The key is sturdy and obviously high quality... unlike other places. It was a pleasure doing business with Big Red Locksmiths!"
  • "Great trustful service. I was in a late night pinch and Big Red locksmiths saved the night fast and with a smile. Any time of day I trust Big Red!"
  • "Unfortunately/fortunately I have had the need to use Big Red several times in the past. They are always so professional, on time, responsive and pleasant to work with. HIGHLY recommend putting them in your contacts so you have the number when you need it most."

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Big Red Locksmiths, Inc.

7611 Main St., Omaha, NE 68127

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