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article imageCanadian uses passport scanned on iPad to enter U.S.

By Arthur Weinreb     Jan 4, 2012 in Technology
A Canadian who left his passport at home was allowed to enter the United States after showing a copy of his passport he had stored on his iPad.
Last Friday, Brian Reisch, 31, left his Montreal home to drive to Vermont to visit friends during the holidays. When he was about half an hour away from the border, he realized he had a problem. The Montreal man remembered he had forgotten to bring his passport. Since 2009, a valid passport has been a requirement for Canadian citizens entering the United States.
Although he forgot his passport, he did remember to bring his iPad. He had previously scanned his passport into the device in case he ever lost the hard copy of the document. So, rather than spend two hours driving back to Montreal, he decided to try to cross the border by showing his iPad.
Reisch told the Canadian Press that the agent at the border was "mildly amused." Said Reisch, He kind of gave me a stare, like neither impressed nor amused.
According to Reisch, the agent took his iPad and his driver's licence into the office and came back about five or six minutes later. He wished Reisch "happy holidays" and allowed him to proceed.
Professor Heather Nicol, of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, and an expert in Canadian border security expert, told the Globe and Mail there is some wiggle room when it comes to allowing people to enter the United States. Nicol said, What it suggests is that the whole standardized 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 experience is very individual..
Nicol said the decision would have depended upon such factors as Reisch's credentials, his frequency of travel to the United States, the personality and experience of the border agent, and the volume of traffic at the time.
But Brian Masse was not amused. The Ontario NDP MP whose riding includes the Windsor border and who is his party's critic for U.S.-Canada border relations, said, The scanned copy of a passport is not a secure document. He added that we might see electronic passports in the future but they will have security features.
As to the scanned copy, Masse said, That could be altered and could lead to some precedents that would jeopardize [border] security.
As reported in USA Today, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canadians can only enter the United States with a passport, an enhanced driver's licence or a Nexus pass. The rules are silent about whether photocopies, scans, or facsimiles of those documents are sufficient.
The agency did not comment on whether scanned copies of passports are routinely accepted.
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