When I saw a joke on Facebook, I laughed at it, but now, somehow I’m surprised at the way the technology is moving and the people are utilizing it. A Canadian who realized he forgot his passport as he approached the US border found a new way to gain entry, through his iPad. Yes, not a joke. iPad helped him to cross the border.
I read a report which said that a Canadian, Martin Reisch, said that a slightly annoyed US 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 just a half an 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 that he was heading to the US to drop off Christmas gifts for his friend's kids. 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 licence for identification for US land border crossings in 2009. 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.
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 per cent being able to cross with your identity on a digital device -- it's just a matter of time," he said.