TORONTO — A Canadian man who realized he forgot his passport as he approached the U.S. border found a new way to gain entry — his iPad.
Martin Reisch said Tuesday a slightly annoyed U.S. border officer let him cross into the United States from Quebec after he presented a scanned copy of his passport on his Apple iPad. Reisch was a half hour from the border when he decided to try to gain entry rather than turn back and make a two-hour trek back home to Montreal to fetch his passport.
He told the officer he was heading to the U.S. to drop off Christmas gifts for his friend’s kids. He said that true story, the scanned passport and his driver’s license helped him get through last week.
He said the officer seemed mildly annoyed when he handed him the iPad.
“I thought I’d at least give it a try,” Reisch said. “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 the officer made an exception.
Canadians began needing more than a driver’s license for identification for U.S. land border crossings in 2009. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it only accepts a passport, an enhanced driver’s license 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 U.S. points of entry.
Reisch, 33, said he took a scanned photo of his passport years ago in case it was over lost or stolen while traveling. 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. He noted that many airlines now accept digital boarding passes stored on smartphones.
“I see the future as 100 percent being able to cross with your identity on a digital device — it’s just a matter of time,” he said.