It was the travel story of the week:  a 33-year-old Canadian man named  Martin Reisch left on a road trip for the US without his passport, but managed to convince Customs to let him across the border by showing them a scanned copy of the document on his iPad.

As Mr. Reisch told the Montreal Gazette, the US border guard wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the situation, but after taking his iPad off to another location temporarily, the official waved him on through:

“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.’ ”

On his return trip, Mr. Reisch also reportedly got into Canada without a hitch, again by bringing up the scanned copy of his passport on his iPad. He told the Montreal Gazette that he believes Steve Jobs would be proud:

“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.”

Ah, the triumph of technology over bureaucracy. It makes for a great story, but there’s just one catch- it might not have actually happened. Per NPR, US Customs and Border Protection responded to the story with a statement that read, in part:

“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. 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.”

Mr. Reisch stands by his story. Regardless, it seems unlikely that CBP will be quite so lenient next time someone approaches with an iPad. So, if you’re heading across the border (whether to the north or the south), don’t leave home without your passport or passport card. Unless you’re a member of a trusted traveler program like NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI, you’ll need it to get across. (Admittedly, Customs may make an exception if you have both your driver’s license and your birth certificate with you, as they claim to have to done for Mr. Reisch. Still, it’s best to travel with the documentation you’re supposed to have under the law.)

For information on how to replace a passport that’s gone missing, see Passport Replacement Services.  If you need your documents more quickly than the Department of State’s expedited processing time of three weeks, you can either make an appointment at a regional passport agency office or we can help you get your application processed in as little as 24 hours, with no appointment required.

To replace your lost passport quickly and easily, give us call or order online today!