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. CandyBee

    You people are hilarious! Thanks for many laughs of the day!

    January 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. American Man

    Big deal. The purpose of the passport is so the traveler can satisfy the border guard that he's not a threat or a smuggler or fugitive from justice or some other potential problem child. I'm sure there are a few people out there WITH passports who should be kept at home.
    Many of us buy things online with credit cards, without the merchant actually seeing our physical card. Should those transactions be considered fraudulent?

    January 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bitsinmotion

      Wow, you are remarkably stupid. As is a border agent if he is "convinced" by a scanned image of anything.

      January 7, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. Spence

    Man "Claims" to use iPad instead of passport.

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

    Just like American news!!! Not the whole story!! He also handed the boarder agent his valid photo driver license and health card, not just the scanned passport! Get all the facts and dont twist the story

    January 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      what the hell is a boarder agent?

      January 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Both of those facts were in the story....reading can be educational Hottest.

      January 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Ryan

      It's funny that all of that information is in the story. I'm really not sure what you're trying to say. I'm also not sure what a "boarder" agent is, but I assume that's a totally different can of worms.

      January 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KH

    I don't think this is a true story. If it is – fire that border guard quickly.

    January 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KH

    @Hottest: That's more like it. Thanks for clarification.

    January 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. slupdawg

    Lemme get this straight: They'll cavity searcg a 5 year old and humiliate a wheelchair-bound octegenarian for little or no reason on a flight, but let this guy in the country with a facsimile of a passport?

    January 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brownstain


    January 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bweedle

    A year or two ago a passport wasn't needed to cross the border. So 230 years = no passport required and now its big news that a passport on a ipad is shown to a border guard. Who cares!

    January 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    I am canadian living in the US so I travel back and forth a lot. About 2 years ago I lost my passport and I had a scanned expired drivers license that might as well have been on a napkin and it got me back into the US. This Ipad guy might as well of had Obama walk him through the gate compared to that.

    January 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tkindred

    The writer of the story is exaggerating. It says that he had a birth certificate and a driver's license. That is enough. They swipe your passports bar code in a machine where it pulls up your information. An image of your passport is worthless to them. This article is dumb and it wasted my time reading it.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Yet you took the time to comment on it....

      January 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elwood

    Wish it was that easy to get into and out of Costco.

    January 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Giloz

    @ Elwood, Best comment I've ever read (Please pardon my English)

    January 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JoinTheElectronicRevolution

    Still can't believe in this day and age that we don't have an electronic version of your passport served from a government system as a backup.

    January 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NJMom

    They should allow electronic passports as long as they include a more secure Identification such as a fingerprint to confirm. When you get a passport, you should have to put your fingerprint on file. They even use fingerprinting for Identification in Disneyworld and Universal Studios.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
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