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No Passport, No Problem: Man Uses iPad to Cross Border into U.S.

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Martin Reisch is certain that if Steve Jobs was alive, the tech innovator would have something to say about him.

The Montreal-based photographer made world headlines after he managed to cross the U.S. border with a scanned image of his passport on his iPad.

“He’d probably say: ‘Here’s something to work on for the future.’ Maybe have some kind of digital certification or encryption to let people travel like this,” Reisch said.

Although he’s sure the U.S. border guard made an exception for him, Reisch is glad his story is being repeated by the likes of the BBC, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.

“I hope the biggest thing to come out of this is that it becomes a catalyst to change the rules,” he said.

On Friday, Reisch was driving down Highway 55 to visit friends in Vermont, when 30 minutes from the Stanstead crossing, he remembered that he left his passport at home.

He thought of turning around when he remembered that he had a scanned copy of his passport on Dropbox, an online file storage service. It was a backup he kept in case he lost his passport while travelling.

“When I explained my story to the American guard, he looked kind of indifferent. He was a pretty serious border guy,” Reisch said.

The officer took his tablet computer and went inside the border office. “I guess he looked me up in the computer and saw I’m not a criminal or a terrorist or anything.

“He didn’t say much besides ‘Merry Christmas.’ ”

Scanned copies of passports are not accepted forms of ID to cross the American border by land, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Canadians must present a passport, a NEXUS card, a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card, an enhanced driver’s licence, or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status.

When crossing back into Canada, Reisch was received with more enthusiasm.

“(The Canadian guard) was a really young guy. We had a cool chat about iPhones and technology. He was really interested and didn’t make a big deal that he was letting me through,” Reisch said.

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