Man crosses US-Canada border with scanned passport on tablet

For trips across the US-Canada border, especially those done as a group or as a tour, the biggest pain of the entire trip is usually the time spent at the mercy of United States Customs and Border Protection agents. (Biases aside, probably not so much with Canadian customs.)

In this odd case for a Montreal man, Martin Reisch was able to do what normally would be impossible (or illegal) - enter the United States using a scanned copy of his passport stored on his iPad.

According to the BBC, Mr. Reisch was en route from Montreal to Vermont, when he realized at the border that he forgot his passport. Figuring it was worth a shot, he handed the iPad and his drivers license to the border agent while explaining his intent to deliver Christmas presents to relatives in Vermont.

Mr. Reisch states the scanned passport was done as a backup resort in case it was lost during his trips. Fortunately in this case, the agent let him off the hook, as Mr. Reisch claims:

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.

Canadian agents also let him back into Canada upon his return. With this humbling experience behind him, Mr. Reisch plans to double check for his passport before departing from Canada. As for the agents on both sides of the border, one can hope this bit of leniency won't cost them their jobs.

Mr. Reisch also hopes for digital devices to be accepted forms of identification upon crossing a border. A use for near-field communication in phones, perhaps?

Thanks artnada for the tip!

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Something about this smells fishy to me. First, the guy forgets his passport, but for some reason has a scanned image of it on his iPad. Why? Why would you do that? If you lost your iPad, you open yourself up to identity fraud. It just sounds like a really stupid thing to do.
Second, surely there must be some law being broken here when he scanned the passport and used it to cross an international border. Does this constitute as using a fake passport? In my understanding, a passport is an official document and making a copy of it would be considered as forgery and/or fraud.
Then finally, he goes public with the story. Either he wants to expose lax security at the Canadian border, and he set the whole thing up (deliberately making a scan of his passport), or he's making the whole story up and is doing it for nothing more than attention. The fact that neither border authority has commented on this, perhaps points to the latter.

> In my understanding, a passport is an official document and making a copy of it would be considered as forgery and/or fraud.

Fail.

Fish said,
Something about this smells fishy to me. First, the guy forgets his passport, but for some reason has a scanned image of it on his iPad. Why? Why would you do that? If you lost your iPad, you open yourself up to identity fraud. It just sounds like a really stupid thing to do.
Second, surely there must be some law being broken here when he scanned the passport and used it to cross an international border. Does this constitute as using a fake passport? In my understanding, a passport is an official document and making a copy of it would be considered as forgery and/or fraud.
Then finally, he goes public with the story. Either he wants to expose lax security at the Canadian border, and he set the whole thing up (deliberately making a scan of his passport), or he's making the whole story up and is doing it for nothing more than attention. The fact that neither border authority has commented on this, perhaps points to the latter.

"Scan or photocopy the information on page 2 of your passport. Email a copy to yourself or carry the photocopy with you, separate from your passport. Leave or email another copy with a trusted friend or relative who will not be travelling abroad with you.

You will thus be able to quickly access the vital information needed to identify you. This can expedite the process of replacing your passport if it is lost, stolen, damaged, destroyed, or becomes inaccessible during your trip."

http://www.ppt.gc.ca/planification/index.aspx?lang=eng

I don't see how that is a big deal.

The passport has a unique barcode, which they can scan and compare the information they have in their database (picture, name, address, etc.). So if the passport does exist, they won't have any problem comparing the scanned copy with it.

That's not ideal and they still did him a favor, but I don't see how that is a problem.

they took his ipad to the "hut" because they probably dumped the contents of it so they can "investigate" it further..... they do this to laptops now too sometimes.... make a copy of your system so they can snoop around looking for illegal stuff... supreme court ruled its allowed.....

DJ Dark said,
I remember the day when Canadians didn't require a passport to goto the states....

I remember when I could use my credit card at the pumps before they started phasing in that stupid zip code check. More than once I've been instructed to see the attendant and I go in and am told they do not accept International Visa cards. Before anyone asks, yes it is NOT a Visa debit card. To anyone that is Canadian that comes across this, to bypass that stupid check. Take all the numbers in your postal code in sequence and add two zeros. Tried it on my second trip down, and it worked at every pump. Including the one that refused to sell me gas on my trip earlier in the year.

rijp said,

It's not our fault you have bad credit.. and umm.. verification isn't a bad thing retard, if it's EASY for you to use your credit card (without asking for ID) if you lose a credit card maybe a criminal can use it JUST as easily. but you people never think about that do you.. noo.. too busy being stupid.

If your stupid enough to lose your credit card in the first place... or lose your wallet... and it has nothing to do with bad credit.

rijp said,

It's not our fault you have bad credit.. and umm.. verification isn't a bad thing retard, if it's EASY for you to use your credit card (without asking for ID) if you lose a credit card maybe a criminal can use it JUST as easily. but you people never think about that do you.. noo.. too busy being stupid.

Uhm hello? This has nothing to do with bad credit, my credit rating is just fine thank you. I've been given that reasoning behind defending asking for a zip code, but then using it to deny people getting gas by seeing the attendant?

I think of tourists that visit the USA than rent a vehicle then drop by a gas station and find out their international credit card is no longer usable at the pump. I do enough trips down the the USA I also carry cash on me, but with the advent of technology you think these brand new pumps could detect an International Visa Credit card and ask for something other than a zip code. I would gladly supply it.

acrufox said,

Uhm hello? This has nothing to do with bad credit, my credit rating is just fine thank you. I've been given that reasoning behind defending asking for a zip code, but then using it to deny people getting gas by seeing the attendant?

I think of tourists that visit the USA than rent a vehicle then drop by a gas station and find out their international credit card is no longer usable at the pump. I do enough trips down the the USA I also carry cash on me, but with the advent of technology you think these brand new pumps could detect an International Visa Credit card and ask for something other than a zip code. I would gladly supply it.

So every pump in the US should have every nation's ID of choice programmed?

It prevents credit card theft, which having been a victim of, I am all for. When some arsehat charges $400 in gas, because it is swipe and go, you hate the old system real quick.

schubb2003 said,

So every pump in the US should have every nation's ID of choice programmed?

It prevents credit card theft, which having been a victim of, I am all for. When some arsehat charges $400 in gas, because it is swipe and go, you hate the old system real quick.

than use chip & pin. or before you go with a specific credit cad find out what protections the car offers (eg when does it red flag usage as fraud.)

My canadian (quebec) driver's licence already provides the ability to be scanned wirelessly. I don't even need to take it out of my poket! For security reasons, I have to store it in a small foil pouch so that it can't be read by anyone on the fly.

Mouettus said,
My canadian (quebec) driver's licence already provides the ability to be scanned wirelessly. I don't even need to take it out of my poket! For security reasons, I have to store it in a small foil pouch so that it can't be read by anyone on the fly.

Hey, common sense didn't take a holiday after all! Amazing we ALL talk about smartphones, and tableets and computers.. they can do MORE than simply play games, login to facebook, and read a bed time story.. sheesh!

Cool, I'm gonna scan my mates US passport, pshop my photo a bit and go on holiday.. Bout time we can all travel freely about planet earth! err well not that freely.. still have to pay departure tax i suppose.

spUrr said,
Cool, I'm gonna scan my mates US passport, pshop my photo a bit and go on holiday.. Bout time we can all travel freely about planet earth! err well not that freely.. still have to pay departure tax i suppose.

And when he looks up the real passport, you may be one of the guests of the "National Defense Authorization Act"...Course since you never entered, they never have to let you go...

Sounds like another atypical Apple beatup to me. How did they 'stamp' the ipad as they are required a regular passport?

trip21 said,
Sounds like another atypical Apple beatup to me. How did they 'stamp' the ipad as they are required a regular passport?

They stamped it, then he fixed the smudge with a bit of tipex.

Stamping passports a requirement? Since when. I've been doing trips twice a year on this passport and there isn't one stamp on it.

acrufox said,
Must be air travel only.

not always, still depends. i dont got a stamp for each flight i took. just 1 for going to the US (from holland)

Kirkburn said,
I think the stamps are being phased out.

That would suck. I collect passport stamps from different countries.

trip21 said,
Sounds like another atypical Apple beatup to me. How did they 'stamp' the ipad as they are required a regular passport?

For going between the US and Canada, they do not stamp your passport. All they do is scan it.

edit: it's possible it is for air travel only.

trip21 said,
Sounds like another atypical Apple beatup to me. How did they 'stamp' the ipad as they are required a regular passport?

Um.. hello.. computer.. they "stamp" it in the computer, duh!

Are you people REALLY this dense or are you purposely being foolish?

I assume the time would've been to crosscheck against databases to ensure the data in the pic was "legit"? Still, it sets a bad precedent as the image could have been altered in many ways.

chAos972 said,
I assume the time would've been to crosscheck against databases to ensure the data in the pic was "legit"? Still, it sets a bad precedent as the image could have been altered in many ways.

Who cares if it's "altered" if they can verify the information is REAL, so WHAT?!? You think a passport is some random document, and it's obvious you DON'T have one. They know who you are, because you have to bring pictures (childhood pictures as well as current ones), submit 6 forms of ID (birth certificate, company ID, drivers license, credit cards) as well as PROOF of residency and something with YOUR name (and SOCIAL) to prove you have things in your name.. ALL of this is done in addition to a background check to prove your identity before they issue a passport.

So now that ALL of that stuff is on file, it's easy enough to VERIFY you are the same person.. do you have any common sense what so ever?

rijp said,

Who cares if it's "altered" if they can verify the information is REAL, so WHAT?!? You think a passport is some random document, and it's obvious you DON'T have one. They know who you are, because you have to bring pictures (childhood pictures as well as current ones), submit 6 forms of ID (birth certificate, company ID, drivers license, credit cards) as well as PROOF of residency and something with YOUR name (and SOCIAL) to prove you have things in your name.. ALL of this is done in addition to a background check to prove your identity before they issue a passport.

So now that ALL of that stuff is on file, it's easy enough to VERIFY you are the same person.. do you have any common sense what so ever?

..you're kidding right?

Taken from http://www.ppt.gc.ca/cdn/secti...?lang=eng&region=Canada..

"At least ONE document to support your identity and the name to appear in the passport must be submitted with your application form. Further documentation may be required. For a child, only the proof of Canadian citizenship is required.

Documentation to support your identity must be issued by a federal, provincial, municipal authority, must be valid and must include the bearer's name and signature."

You don't need childhood photos. You don't need credit cards. You certainly don't need six pieces of ID.


rijp said,

They know who you are, because you have to bring pictures (childhood pictures as well as current ones), submit 6 forms of ID (birth certificate, company ID, drivers license, credit cards) as well as PROOF of residency and something with YOUR name (and SOCIAL) to prove you have things in your name.. ALL of this is done in addition to a background check to prove your identity before they issue a passport.

I got my passport in the summer of 2010 and as the poster mentioned above, your description is a bit incorrect - just the number of pieces required and the photos.

Two recent photos, some proof of residency (drivers license is sufficient) - photocopies are fine, birth certificate or citizenship card, and one person to back you up as proof - family members are also fine, they just need passports of their own.

The instructions are right on the first page: http://www.ppt.gc.ca/form/pdfs/pptc153.pdf

he also had his drivers licence with him, the crossing guard wont get sackd so maby you haters should get off the guys back, READ the bbc artical and all will be made clear to you.

xSuRgEx said,
he also had his drivers licence with him, the crossing guard wont get sackd so maby you haters should get off the guys back, READ the bbc artical and all will be made clear to you.

I read the 'bbc artical' yesterday.

xSuRgEx said,
he also had his drivers licence with him, the crossing guard wont get sackd so maby you haters should get off the guys back, READ the bbc artical and all will be made clear to you.

I'm not sure if you read the article above properly. It states that he handed over his driver's licence as well as the iPad, just as the BBC article mentions.

And whenever I cross with all the proper documentation at the ready, I get agents who ask me stupid things like is the car I'm driving stolen. visiting friends isn't a valid reason to visit, and doing professional photography in America is a jailable offense. >.>

acrufox said,
And whenever I cross with all the proper documentation at the ready, I get agents who ask me stupid things like is the car I'm driving stolen. visiting friends isn't a valid reason to visit, and doing professional photography in America is a jailable offense. >.>

I believe the car thing is so that if you do get caught lying to the officials, you will get a bigger sentence (which is a bigger deterrent). Yes, visiting friends is a valid reason to visit. And doing work in a country without declaring that intent on entry is the issue.

roadwarrior said,

Say WHAT????

I said I was going down to Memphis, TN for a week. They asked what for, I said vacation. Meet up with friends, have fun, take some pictures. Customs Agent got Irate with me as soon as I said pictures. He looked in the back seat, saw my A55 Sony camera and immediately said he hoped I wasn't taking that camera down to do paid professional photography. Informed me doing this was illegal to do and was a jailable offense.

At this point I insisted I was just going down for vacation and he then informed me my reasons for visiting the USA were not valid. At which point he instructed me to park my vehicle at the plaza and go in while they searched the car.

Awhile later apparently they found enough evidence in the car to support what I had told me. Then gave me a form to fill out and the officer informs me the cheese ham and crackers meal in the cooler in the trunk contained meat and I had to declare I was importing meats.

At which point I was then asked if I was married, then asked if I had a girlfriend, if I did was she Canadian or American. After saying no to all those questions he pauses and says in a disapproving tone....asks me if I have a boyfriend. After again saying no, he hands me back all the items they took from the car and tells me I can go.

Kirkburn said,

I believe the car thing is so that if you do get caught lying to the officials, you will get a bigger sentence (which is a bigger deterrent). Yes, visiting friends is a valid reason to visit. And doing work in a country without declaring that intent on entry is the issue.

I just find it to be a horrible waste of time to grill me like this. I go on the same trips, every year at the same time for the same length of time for the same reasons. Asking me if I stole the car one year, doing illegal paid for photography the next, going irate because I didn't stop properly on the while line worn off the pavement, implying I'm going to steal American jobs when unemployment was soaring, to asking me for proof I will go home after my visit is just utterly pointless. Been doing this routine for so long now it's nothing more than harassment.

acrufox said,

I said I was going down to Memphis, TN for a week. They asked what for, I said vacation. Meet up with friends, have fun, take some pictures. Customs Agent got Irate with me as soon as I said pictures. He looked in the back seat, saw my A55 Sony camera and immediately said he hoped I wasn't taking that camera down to do paid professional photography. Informed me doing this was illegal to do and was a jailable offense.

At this point I insisted I was just going down for vacation and he then informed me my reasons for visiting the USA were not valid. At which point he instructed me to park my vehicle at the plaza and go in while they searched the car.

Awhile later apparently they found enough evidence in the car to support what I had told me. Then gave me a form to fill out and the officer informs me the cheese ham and crackers meal in the cooler in the trunk contained meat and I had to declare I was importing meats.

At which point I was then asked if I was married, then asked if I had a girlfriend, if I did was she Canadian or American. After saying no to all those questions he pauses and says in a disapproving tone....asks me if I have a boyfriend. After again saying no, he hands me back all the items they took from the car and tells me I can go.

You would need a different visa (or whatever) to do paid work, you would have been on a visitors visa, therefore doing a professional job is against the visa terms.

They weren't saying it is illegal, just that it is illegal on the visa you would have had.

I'm going down on a passport for a one week visit, sounds like paranoia to think Canadians are just dying to go south of the 49th parallel to take up jobs.

Remember getting accused of this stupidity one year and I took out my travelers insurance which expired after the summer was up. Told the officer I wouldn't be caught dead in America without health insurance. After which he let me go.

acrufox said,
And whenever I cross with all the proper documentation at the ready, I get agents who ask me stupid things like is the car I'm driving stolen. visiting friends isn't a valid reason to visit, and doing professional photography in America is a jailable offense. >.>

Maybe you look like a terrorist or have a lot of a tattos or a criminal past.. besides you should be GLAD they ask a lot of questions, when they DON'T ask that's when I get nervous..

rijp said,

Maybe you look like a terrorist or have a lot of a tattos or a criminal past.. besides you should be GLAD they ask a lot of questions, when they DON'T ask that's when I get nervous..

I'm so white I blend into snowstorms *lol* Don't have any real kind of discernible accent. I do not look like any kind of threat. Me, personally, think it has to do with me being self employed and they don't like that. Even then though my sister has been asked these questions too when going down with her wife and son.

Why would I be glad they ask lots of questions? I spent most of my summers in New England with my parents for close to 20 years, asking all these questions now to even people who are obviously not any threat just wastes the resources that they should be using on people they should be taking a closer look at.

acrufox said,

I'm so white I blend into snowstorms *lol* Don't have any real kind of discernible accent. I do not look like any kind of threat. Me, personally, think it has to do with me being self employed and they don't like that. Even then though my sister has been asked these questions too when going down with her wife and son.

Why would I be glad they ask lots of questions? I spent most of my summers in New England with my parents for close to 20 years, asking all these questions now to even people who are obviously not any threat just wastes the resources that they should be using on people they should be taking a closer look at.

Husband and son. *yawn* lol, funny nonetheless hahah

Whether or not you think its a good thing or not (and generally I think it is a bit stupid), you have to wonder about this bloke.

The border control do him a massive favour during the holiday period and allow him through to deliver his presents.

What a heart-warming story - so what does he do? Tells everyone about it, and probably gets the friendly border control guy sacked. Lovely stuff.

morphen said,
I would guess he didn't allow him to pass without the consent of his superiors, but who knows.

You're right I guess. But the story still doesn't add up - the guy obviously knows he's had a favour given him, and in return he tells the press. I just think hes a prick to be honest.

This is not a good thing, so people can cross borders now with a scan of their passport? how is that security conscious? so super imposed images don't happen? how can they check it wasn't fiddled with before the scan?

Shaun said,
This is not a good thing, so people can cross borders now with a scan of their passport? how is that security conscious? so super imposed images don't happen? how can they check it wasn't fiddled with before the scan?

while I agree with you, I bet this wouldn't have happened if the man was from mexico, or any other country in the world.

Shaun said,
so super imposed images don't happen? ?

Well he also had a copy of his driver's license and possibly since all passports now have a machine readable code, the agents attempted to scan the image it to verify it hence the 5-6 minutes he waited. If he frequently crosses the border he'd be in the system so they had enough reason to let him through.

Shaun said,
This is not a good thing, so people can cross borders now with a scan of their passport? how is that security conscious? so super imposed images don't happen? how can they check it wasn't fiddled with before the scan?

OK, let's look at the facts. He said the border agent took the iPad for 5 or 6 minutees.. meaning he VERIFIED the Passport was IN FACT real, it wasn't like he took a random scan and they let him pass.

He probably called USA passport, verified his identify, they have fingerprints.. a bunch of stuff, it's not a photocopy or a FAKE passport..

People.. use your head! It's not a big deal. TSA has also announced you can scan your boarding pass on your phone as well.. it's ONLY a matter of time until electronic documents will be the standard.

Shaun said,
This is not a good thing, so people can cross borders now with a scan of their passport? how is that security conscious? so super imposed images don't happen? how can they check it wasn't fiddled with before the scan?

Its Canada!!! that's how it works between US and the Canada... I bet this wont happen with other countries.

Sadelwo said,

Well he also had a copy of his driver's license and possibly since all passports now have a machine readable code, the agents attempted to scan the image it to verify it hence the 5-6 minutes he waited. If he frequently crosses the border he'd be in the system so they had enough reason to let him through.

The article I read says he provided his driver license and his birth certificate and thats the reason he got in (according to the official version the american border agency provided to the media)