CBP: Scan of Passport on iPad Not Sufficient For Admission

In a bizarre statement, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency recently reaffirmed that there are certain documents that are required for entrance into the United States – and that a scanned copy of a passport that is visible on an iPad is not sufficient.

In an apparent attempt to squash what has become an emerging urban legend, the CBP states that an individual can only enter the United States if he or she has a valid passport, U.S. Passport card, Trusted Traveler card, or enhanced driver’s license.

If a person does not have the required documents, the CBP officer will either determine identity and citizenship through another means, or will deny entry into the United States.

The CBP’s statement stems from an actual instance where an applicant was admitted after showing a scanned image of his passport on his iPad, a valid driver’s license, and birth certificate.  According to the CBP, the person was admitted because his driver’s license and birth certificate checked out and proved his identity and nationality.

The iPad can’t do everything…yet.


The CBP’s Statement follows:

CBP Statement on Approved Documents for Entry Into U.S.

(Wednesday, January 04, 2012)

Washington – 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.

Since June 1, 2009, U.S. and 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. Scanned or digital images of WHTI-compliant documents are not accepted forms of identification. If a traveler does not present WHTI-compliant documents, CBP officers must determine identity and citizenship using a variety of other means, or deny entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.


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