Man enters US using iPad as passport

Jan 05, 2012, 08:14 IST | Agencies

Martin Reisch, a Canadian man who realised he forgot his passport as he approached the US border, found a new way to gain entry -- his iPad

Martin Reisch, a Canadian man who realised he forgot his passport as he approached the US border, found a new way to gain entry -- his iPad

A traveller who entered the United States from Canada without a passport was let over the American border -- after presenting officials with a scanned document on his iPad.

Martin Reisch had driven from his home in Montreal before realising half an hour from the border he did not have his passport.

Wonders of an iPad: Martin Reisch used the iPad again on his way back
to Canada after dropping off presents in the US. Representation pic

Reisch (33) instead told an official at US Customs and Border Protection he was heading to American to drop off Christmas gifts for his friend's children, before presenting a scanned passport and driver's licence on the Apple device.

But rather than demand he drive two hours home to fetch the hard copies of his documents, border officials spent several minutes studying the photos on his iPad before allowing him over the border last week.

Reisch said, "I thought I'd at least give it a try. He took the iPad into the little border hut. He kind of gave me a stare, like neither impressed nor amused."

Reisch added, "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. 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."

Reisch said he took a scanned photo of his passport years ago in case it was ever lost or stolen while travelling. He said he also successfully used the passport on his iPad to get through Canadian Customs on the way home later that day.

He said he doubts he'd get away with it again and will bring his passport next time. But he hopes border officials will eventually make digital identification an official form of travel document.

"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," he said.

The rule says
US Customs and Border Protection says it will accept documentation such as a passport, an enhanced driver's licence or a Nexus pass from Canadian citizens entering at land crossings. The list doesn't mention facsimiles, such as scans and photocopies.

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

Professor Heather Nicol, a border-security expert from Trent University, said Reisch's experience is likely one of many unspoken exceptions carried out at US border crossings.

"What it suggests is that this whole standardisation process is a little bit of a shell game because we're told it's not about individuals, it's about data sets. But sometimes the experience is very individual."

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