If you've flown recently, it's likely you've seen someone check in with a digital boarding pass on their mobile phone or iPad. You might have even done this yourself. However, no matter how often you travel, it's unlikely you've ever seen someone use a digital copy of their passport to cross an international border.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Martin Reisch was traveling from Montreal to the U.S. when he realized he'd forgotten something very important: his passport. Reisch was just 30 minutes from the border when he realized he didn't have his passport. However, instead of going the two hours home to get it, he decided to try and gain entry to the United States using a scanned copy of his passport that he had on his iPad.
When Reisch arrived at the border, he showed the officer on duty his scanned passport on his iPad and his driver's license, and told him that he was going to the U.S. to drop off presents for his friend's kids. Though the officer was apparently visibly annoyed, Reisch's digital copy of his passport (which he made 'years ago' in case his passport was ever stolen) along with his driver's license, was enough to get him across the border. It was also enough to get him home when he returned to the border later that same day.
"I thought I'd at least give it a try," the AP quotes Reisch as saying. "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."
No public statement has been made about Reisch's ability to cross the border into the U.S. using a scanned copy of his passport by either country's border agency, but we can't imagine this is common practice. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has, for several years now, only accepted passports, enhanced driver's licenses, or Nexus passes from Canadians entering the U.S., so Reisch was definitely a rare exception. At least, he should have been. We'll update if either agency releases a statement regarding the incident.