Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.
January 4th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.

[Updated at 5 p.m. ET Friday] U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the "assertion that a traveler was admitted into the U.S. using solely a scanned image of his passport on an iPad is categorically false."

The Canadian man who made the claim had a driver's license and a birth certificate, "which the [U.S. border officer] used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country," CBP said in a statement released this week.

Scanned images are not accepted forms of identification, the CBP said.

[Initial post, 4:01 p.m. ET Wednesday] Forgot your passport? There’s an iPad for that.

At least in the singular case of a Montreal photographer who left home without the important document on his way to the United States. Martin Reisch said he was able to show a scanned copy of his passport to an American border guard and was given entry into the U.S., according to news reports.

To be sure, the incident was not without trepidation. "There was a slight hesitation; he didn't really seem like he was impressed," Reisch told CBC News. But the guard soon gave him back his iPad, and he was on his way to Vermont.

But isn't this a technological breakthrough? Could this be the Apple-white dawn of a new age of digital facsimile?What would Steve Jobs have thought?

“He’d probably say: ‘Here’s something to work on for the future.’ Maybe have some kind of digital certification or encryption to let people travel like this,” Reisch told The Montreal Gazette.

The only problem? A scanned or photocopied passport is not usually accepted.

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, Canadian citizens entering the U.S. are required to present either a passport; a valid photo ID;  NEXUS or FAST cards, which are frequent traveler programs between the two countries; or a certificate verifying a person's Indian status.

Brian Masse, a member of the Canadian Parliament, told the Gazette that a scanned copy "is not a secure document. That could be altered, and could also lead to some precedents that would jeopardize (border) security."

Reisch told the paper, “I hope the biggest thing to come out of this is that it becomes a catalyst to change the rules.”

What do you think? Is it time for a digital ID?

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Filed under: Canada • U.S. • World
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Rao

    Hmm .. If his name was Mohammed, would he have got the same treatment?

    January 6, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

    Another plug for Apple on CNN....what a surprise.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      The story is stupid ... Worst yet, Martin is stupid for show up on camera and brag that he got US customs good!!!
      Why? for what? for fame? Yeah .. its the social media Martin wants ... his 5 mins of fame!!! He should keep his mouth shut, appreciate that US Customs did not make him turn around and go get his passport and ruin his trip to USA. Well, US Customs got is number now. Next time when he is at the border, US customs wont allow him to enter. One doesnt know how to appreciate and keep to himself.

      January 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    Stupidest story ever

    January 6, 2012 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      "Stupidest" is not a real word.

      January 6, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      Actually, Brian, it is.

      January 6, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Wowie

      Brian wins "Ironic Post of the Day" today.

      January 6, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Good post, Wowie!

      And, in that spirit, I reiterate the classic, auto-ironic; "Your a moron, Brian."

      January 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I'm feeling even more stupid for reading these.

      January 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • John-177

      Actually Brian is right. "Stupidest" isn't a real word. Correct grammar would have you say "most stupid" not "stupidest". Its people's stupidity that is to blame for why "stupidest" is considered a word. THAT is ironic. "Stupidest" is as much as a word as "ain't". Both not real words, however have been accepted because the average person doesn't speak proper English.

      January 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • John-177

      The word "stupidest" is nothing more than slang.

      January 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ALL AMERICAN

    Martin Reisch is a liar.

    January 6, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. James Faulconer

    I sincerely hope this is a fabricated story. I could change anything on a digitally scanned passport in Photoshop to reflect whatever information I wanted. We are a long way from this being an acceptable way to enter a country I hope, and I pray whomever (if true) accepted this as a true passport was let go.

    January 6, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • StL

      Exactly! Seriously! I'm a libertarian at heart and happen to think that some travel protocols are completely over the top. That said, letting some guy show "his" passport via an iPad? Are you freaking kidding me?!

      I mean, hey, I grew up in Detroit and we have a border crossing there, too. What do you suppose would have happened if one of our arab citizens who was born in Lebanon or Pakistan but now holds American citizenship (or like 10% of the entire Metro Detroit area lol, perhaps more) got into Canada and tried to get back into the U.S. with a passport that was copied onto an iPad? You've gotta be kidding me!

      January 6, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Absolutely...anything can be changed digitally so easily. I am a Graphic Artist/Designer and something like this could be faked so easily...why, I could even fake a birth certificate!

      January 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ATLien

    This only worked because he came from Canada. One does not require a passport to travel between the U.S. and Canada. I have crossed that border with nothing but a student I.D. Try traveling to Europe or any other foreign country (other than Mexico where you also do not really need a passport) and you will be denied without a second thought.

    January 6, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ramone

      @ATLien, said "This only worked because he came from Canada. One does not require a passport to travel between the U.S. and Canada."

      This is 100% false. When were you a student–10 years ago? You absolutely are required to show a valid passport to travel between the US and Canada. The rules were revised years ago. You even need one to travel by car.

      January 6, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • StL

      "You absolutely are required to show a valid passport to travel between the US and Canada."

      Uhh, according to this story, you're wrong.

      January 6, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      That hasn't been true for a decade now, half-wit. You do need a passport for Canada now.

      January 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • ForReal?

      You need a passport to get into the US. You do not need a passport to get into Canada-but you do need a valid form of ID.

      January 6, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Actually No passport is required fort Land travel between Canada and the USA... a driver's licence will suffice. I do it every 2 months to shop in plattsburgh.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shaman13

    He is the Beast, and this is his Mark..

    January 6, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. whoop

    ummm...didn't the 9/11 perpetrators come through Canada?!?!? Maybe this is why. It's pretty easy to convice border patrol there apparently.

    January 6, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • truthiness

      That is complete fiction.Not one single 9/11 hijacker came via Canada.All had been granted entry to US by the US gov't.Please check facts before posting crap......

      January 6, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Uh no, half-wit, they did not. And they had valid visas to be in the US anyway, so where they came from is pretty irrelevant.

      January 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • ForReal?

      Not one of them came from Canada.

      January 6, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. DDM

    Electronic ID too easily altered.

    January 6, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. Susan

    The border guard probably just used common sense – he could tell the guy was a citizen, and made a judgment. We need more of this and less stupid.

    January 6, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Oh really!? Just how could he tell the guy was a citizen? Was it stamped on his forehead? I guess he used common sense just like I did when I decided you are an idiot.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ThinkingMan

    A bad idea. Look at the various security items embedded within our passport. Sure a really good forger can alter some but you would have to be REALLY GOOD to fool most customs inspectors. Now consider how many more programmers exist than forgers. Hacking isn't all that hard.

    January 6, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. CNN4Apple

    more shameless Apple propaganda from CNN. yawn.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rick

    Actually No passport is required fort Land travel between Canada and the USA... a driver's licence will suffice. I do it every 2 months to shop in plattsburgh

    January 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeffrey

    This person should not have been allowed in the US without a valid passport. Any high school kid knows how to photoshop that image and put their own photo there.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jose San Antonio

    What probably the U.S border guard did was took his IPAD to their office, ran the passport number on the IPAD to the US database system to match it. The guy is standing right there infront of the counter to ID his face to the photo. Ask the man for a 2nd ID to match the street address, etc. I travel worldwide a lot, and the State Dept advise is to write down your passport # in case you lost it. If you do, just show up to any U.S Embassy and show them your State Driver's License, & plane ticket. Tell them you've lost U.S. passport but you have the number, the clerk can help you out. What so big deal about this story ?

    January 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
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