Applications Devices

Why you really need a scanned copy of your Passport on DropBox (or Evernote)

Did you catch this story doing the rounds and picked up by The Telegraph today? A Canadian chap used his iPad as a passport to get into and out of the country:

Martin Reisch said on Tuesday a slightly annoyed US border officer let him cross into the United States from Quebec after he presented a scanned copy of his passport on his Apple iPad.

Mr Reisch was a half hour from the border when he decided to try to gain entry rather than turn back and make a two-hour trek back home to Montreal to fetch his passport.

He told the officer he was heading to the US to drop off Christmas gifts for his friend’s kids. He said that true story, the scanned passport and his driver’s licence helped him get through last week.

via Man enters US without passport – thanks to his iPad – Telegraph.

You can bet that somewhere there’s a National Security Director having kittens at this news.

However I’m pleased for the chap — I’m pleased his technology was able to help him out. Since he had his driver’s license to confirm his ID and since (I’m sure) the immigration officer was able to a quick lookup on the passport number to verify, all was good.

I doubt the Americans — or any Government — will want to encourage this sort of behaviour. Surely* this kind of issue is bound to occur all over the world every day?

How long must we do the silly dance with the immigration officers when we’re moving from country to country.

I find it rather silly that I have to stand in line nowadays when I visit the States given the amount of verification that takes place. I recently had to renew my ESTA application for a trip. It went through in miliseconds but they wanted every single piece of information possible to verify my ID. That *MUST* be presented on screen (or on some big ‘orrible massive computer) when I turn up at the immigration desk and present my passport.

When will we get a Passport app for the iPad? Bring it on.

[*And don’t call me Shirley — for any fans of the movie, Airplane]

Finally — just in case you find yourself at SFO minus your passport but with other forms of semi useful ID, make sure you’ve got a high-res scan of your passport in either Evernote or DropBox

And yeah, I look shocking in that passport photo. So bad that when I was leaving Germany a while ago, the immigration officer helpfully told me he thought I looked like an Axe Murderer. And folk say the Germans don’t have a sense of humour!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

5 replies on “Why you really need a scanned copy of your Passport on DropBox (or Evernote)”

I suspect this has more to do with the reciprocal arrangement between the US / Canada that doesn’t require a passport to be shown when travelling across the border by land and that the image was deemed sufficient to qualify as secondary photo ID (presented with his drivers license).

I don’t really see mobile apps as a viable way to replace a document proving identity that is as complex as a passport any time soon, but biometric identifiers should ultimately be the only identifier we need in the long-term when they can be shared between co-operating border authorities.

And yet my favourite airline here in Spain won’t accept a scanned copy of my residence certificate as proof of entitlement to a a residents’ discounts. whether presented as a photocopy, or on the ipad, or whatever.

For the record, this is a piece of specially-printed green A4 that is the flimsiest thing one can get away with running through a civil service issue black and white laser printer, and then with a signature stamped onto it with a rubber stamp kept next to said laser printer. The paper happens to say “NOT VALID AS PROOF OF ID” on it. Needless to say, I hardly ever carry it on me, but it still breaks up after a year or so, and is supposedly valid for life.So, yeah, a lot of work needed on mobile-friendly IDs.

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