U.S. Customs: We Won’t Accept A Photo Of Your Passport On Your iPad [Exclusive]

U.S. Customs: We Won’t Accept A Photo Of Your Passport On Your iPad [Exclusive]

Following our report about Martin Reisch earlier today — the Canadian who was reportedly allowed into the United States with a photograph of his passport on his iPad — U.S. customs have contacted us to clarify the situation.

Jenny L. Burke, a Field Branch Chief with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says that the claim Reisch was admitted into the U.S. using solely an image of his passport on his iPad is “categorically false,” and that Reisch had to provide more than just a photo to get into the country.

“The assertion that a traveler was admitted into the U.S. using solely a scanned image of his passport on an iPad is categorically false,” Burke confirmed in an email to Cult of Mac this morning. “In this case, the individual had both a driver’s license and birth certificate, which the CBP officer used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country.”

Burke confirmed that since June 1, 2009, “Canadian citizens entering the U.S. by land or sea from within the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid, WHTI-compliant document, which includes a passport, U.S. Passport card, Trusted Traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST/EXPRES, or Global Entry), or enhanced driver’s license/enhanced identification card.”

That means you won’t get in carrying only a photograph of your passport, or a photocopy of any of the documents above. Scanned or digital images of WHTI-compliant documents are not accepted, Burke stated, and travelers who do not present original WHTI-compliant documents will be refused entry into the U.S.

  • TIME! IT

    if you read the original article by the Winnipeg Press (
    http://www.winnipegfreepress.c… )  you will notice it says 

    “Martin Reisch says a border officer let him cross into the United States from Quebec after he presented a scanned copy of his passport on the computer tablet and his driver’s licence. “

    people seem to miss the part that says “and a license”

    Thus he didn’t just provide a scanned passport & actually did “present original WHTI-compliant document” as required by customs.

  • MacRat

    Who didn’t see that announcement coming?

  • Mike Rathjen

    Something strange is going on. Reisch claimed he forget his passport. But he just happened to have his birth certificate handy?

  • markrlangston

    Not really surprising is it? A digital image is incredibly easy to forge. But a watermarked document with specific dimensions and paper stock is remarkably more difficult. 

    There may come a time when less stringent demands on identification will be acceptable but getting passed customs with a digital picture won’t cut it. 

    Maybe when the government develops apps with insane security underneath will they accept ID’s through digital devices. Even with all the advances in technology I don’t see that happening any time soon. 

    If I kid can hack into a CIA or FBI computer they can bloody well hack an image on a smartphone.

  • andymcclung

    /unsubscribe from your articles.

  • x86tech

    even more, he got a picture off his passport.

  • volodoscope

    actually photocopying your passport, ssn card and driver’s license is illegal.

  • Alex

    Slow news day ?  

  • nthnm

    Not in Canada it isn’t. To apply for your passport, you’re allowed to either provide your original driver’s licence or, since most people need that to continue driving, a photocopy of that driver’s licence.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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