Although red tape has a long history in public administration research, the emotional consequences of bureaucratic procedures for citizens have received little attention in the literature. Within the framework of behavioral public administration, this article investigates how varying conditions of administrative delay, administrative burden, and rule dysfunctionality in citizen‐state interactions spark discrete emotional reactions. Physiological measurements of emotions (e.g., facial coding, electrodermal activity, heart rate) from 136 participants in a laboratory study show that bureaucratic red tape evokes significant negative emotional responses, especially confusion, frustration, and anger. Experimental evidence also indicates that delay is less stirring than burden, while rule functionality has little placatory effect, regardless of the favorability of outcomes. These results support the conceptualization of red tape as an affective rather than a cognitive phenomenon. They also suggest that negative emotions of citizens are linked to the modus operandi of public administrations.