Canadian Man Crosses U.S. Border With iPad Instead of Passport

A Montreal man managed to cross the U.S. border with a scanned image of his passport on his iPad.

Martin Reisch holds up his iPad displaying his passport in Montreal, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. He was allowed entry into the United States using a scanned copy of his passport on his iPad. Photo: Martin Reisch

A Canadian man who forgot his passport at home discovered an unusual tool to help him get through U.S. Customs — his iPad, reports The Huff Post.

Photographer Martin Reisch said if iPad creator Steve Jobs was still alive he would have something to say about that.

“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,” Mr. Reisch said.

Reisch said he was about a half-an-hour drive from the Vermont border last week when he realized he had forgotten his passport at home.

He quickly remembered that a scanned copy of the document was stored on his iPad, and instead of turning his car around for the two-hour drive home, he decided to give it a shot.

“I thought I’d at least give it a try,” Mr Reisch said, according to BBC. “He took the iPad into the little border hut. He was in there a good five, six minutes. It seemed like an eternity.

“When he came back, he took a good long pause before wishing me a Merry Christmas,” Reisch said. “He was very nice about it. I think a good part of it had to do with the fact that it was the holidays and I seem like a nice-enough person.”

Canadians began needing more than a driver’s licence for identification for US land border crossings in 2009.

Reisch, 33, said he explained his situation to the customs officer, who seemed mildly annoyed when he handed him the iPad.

“He kind of gave me a stare, like neither impressed nor amused,” he said of their exchange last Friday in southern Quebec.

US Customs and Border Protection says it only accepts a passport, an enhanced driver’s licence or a Nexus pass from Canadian citizens entering at land crossings. The list doesn’t mention facsimiles, like scans and photocopies.

A spokesman for the department did not immediately respond to questions on whether scanned passports are also commonly accepted at US points of entry, The Telegraph informs.

Mr Reisch, who successfully managed to re-enter Canada later the same day, has said he will not forget his passport in the future.

However, he hopes one day scanned identification will become the norm. “I see the future as 100% being able to cross with your identity on a digital device – it’s just a matter of time,” he said.

When asked Tuesday about Reisch’s case, a spokeswoman for the Canadian border agency declined to comment and suggested the question be directed to U.S. Customs.

Reisch, who said he travels to the U.S. about a dozen times a year, hopes border officials eventually make digital identification an official form of travel document.

“I like the idea of things being catalysts for change,” said the freelance photographer and videographer, who noted that many airlines now accept digital boarding passes stored on smartphones.

“It’s a recognized form of checking in (on airlines), so I see the future as 100-per-cent being able to cross with your identity on a digital device — it’s just a matter of time.”

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