The Mobile Passport Control line will save you tons of time at the airport
An international vacation with kids in tow is a challenge on its own, and navigating U.S. customs after a long flight is the cherry on top of a long day of travel. Frequent travelers know that Global Entry gets you through customs without having to wait in the long screening line, but it requires a $100 fee, a background check, and an in-person appointment (which has been very difficult to schedule in the last year). Plus, kids can’t piggyback onto their parent’s Global Entry status like you can with TSA precheck; each traveler must have their own when using the Global Entry line.
Enter Mobile Passport Control. This program allows traveling families to submit their passports and customs entry information via a free, secure app upon arrival in the U.S. Then they can proceed to a much shorter line to complete the remainder of the customs process. Here’s everything you need to know:
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What is Mobile Passport Control?
Mobile Passport Control is a program from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that expedites the process of passing through customs checkpoints at certain U.S. locations for U.S. citizens and Canadian B1/B2 citizen visitors. It replaces the written paperwork and allows you access to a special line.
How does Mobile Passport Control work?
- Upload your traveler info by scanning passports. Only one submission is needed per household (up to 12 people) so you can include all family members traveling with you here. This step can be done without WiFi before your plane lands or in advance of your trip. Once you’ve uploaded your passport, the information stays securely stored in the app for your next trip.
- When you arrive, select the airport and terminal of arrival. You will also have to take a photo of each member of your group in the app.
- Answer the customs declaration questions. These are the questions you typically fill out in the paper form handed out by the flight attendants.
- Submit your information through the app. You will be given a QR code to present to the customs official to complete your entry into the U.S.
- Follow the Mobile Passport Control signs to enter the correct line.
What airports and seaports offer Mobile Passport Control?
MPC is currently available at 38 sites, including 31 U.S. international airports, 3 Canadian Preclearance locations, and 4 seaports of entry. This includes airports like BWI, ORD, JFK, EWR, DEN, HOU, SFO, and LAX. Check the full list here to see if your arrival airport or seaport is included.
How does Mobile Passport Control differ from Global Entry?
Global Entry has a much more rigorous pre-approval process that includes an interview and background check, but it also comes with the added benefit of TSA Precheck. This program is for travelers who frequently fly overseas. All family members traveling together must have their own Global Entry certification, including infants. Global Entry travelers have their own line at customs where they take a photo of themselves and scan their passports via kiosks before completing the customs process.
As mentioned above, there’s no pre-approval process for Mobile Passport Control. This is best to use when traveling with family members who do not have Global Entry. Also, there’s nothing stopping a Global Entry user from utilizing the Mobile Passport Control service as sometimes the MPC line is even shorter than the Global Entry line!