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This question could technically go on meta, but I think it makes more sense here on AskDifferent proper. So the new iPad contest was awesome. I even won something.

Here's the question: When I go to an Apple Store for a Genius Bar appointment, they often will look up the device's serial number and match it to my Apple account. Since the prizes were purchased by a StackExchange employee, ware the devices attached to his or her Apple ID? Can I go to an Apple store and add AppleCare, or do I need to transfer ownership, or are the devices registered to the winners individually by virtue of the fact that it was shipped as a gift, with a gift message?

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Apple will register a device to anyone who presents it for service. It doesn't mean some database doesn't still remember to whom it was sold or registered in the past, but in practice it doesn't matter since possession is all that matters.

As to paying for AppleCare, you should get it in the country where you live if at all possible. That ensures you don't have to ship the device elsewhere if asked to do so. The plans are customized for the laws of each country - and in some cases, customized for states or provinces as needed within a country.

Assuming the device was purchased from the US - you should also be fine buying AppleCare from the US store. Again, the warranty and service are valid worldwide, but in some cases, you will be responsible for shipping it to the country of purchase / AppleCare in cases where local service is not readily available.

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Also - I doubt SE will actually open and register the device, so you can do that as part of the normal setup process to register it as you prefer from your main country for service. –  bmike Apr 6 '12 at 21:38
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I received it today, closed in the original packaging. :-D –  Moshe Apr 6 '12 at 21:45
    
Congratulations! –  bmike Apr 6 '12 at 22:18
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