The US Customs and Border Patrol is trying to quell rumors that a traveler was allowed into the US solely using a scanned image of his passport on his iPad. If you're a US citizen and you are traveling internationally and are returning home you need to have your passport to reenter the US. If you forget your passport, the CBP can let you into the country at their discretion if you have other proof of citizenship such as your original birth certificate and driver's license but this is taking a huge risk as they can deny your entry. If you lose your passport while aboard it's best to visit a US embassy and request assistance.
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