Free App to Get You Through Customs Quickly
Air travel has seen a big boost this summer and is getting close to 2019 numbers. On some days, travelers passing through TSA checkpoints has even surpassed pre-pandemic levels. On May 22nd for example, 2,350,927 people did so, compared to 2,070,716 three years ago. And more people could be flying to the US now that the testing requirements will end.
But as more people fly, we also expect to see more cancellations due to staffing shortages and long lines at airports. For the latter, there are some options to get you through checkpoints in a timely manner.
Services like TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are very useful when flying out of domestics airports. When flying back to the US You have Global Entry, which is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival.
These services come with a fee, although you can often get them for free with a premium credit card. CLEAR costs $189 per year and Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck) costs $100 to apply, and the membership lasts for five years.
Global Entry requires an interview, which is the hard part. That’s because of backlogs that could mean months of waiting until you’re actually approved. But if you are abroad traveling soon, or just don’t want to pay for Global Entry, there’s another option. And it’s completely free.
Mobile Passport Control
Mobile Passport Control or MPC, allows eligible travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration information through a free app on their smartphone or other mobile device.
The use of MPC streamlines the traveler’s entry process into the United States by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time.
Travelers who successfully use an authorized MPC app will no longer have to complete a paper form or use an APC kiosk. As a result, travelers may experience shorter wait times, less congestion and efficient processing, by going through dedicated lanes. In some cases that could even beat out Global Entry members.
How It Works
Travelers create a profile with their passport information, including the traveler’s name, gender, date of birth, and country of citizenship. Upon landing in the United States, they select their arrival airport or seaport and terminal, take a self-photo, and answer a series of CBP inspection-related questions.
Once the traveler submits their transaction through the app, the traveler will receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code. Travelers then bring their physical passport and mobile device with their digital QR-coded receipt to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the United States.
Up to 12 profiles can be created for family members. All authorized MPC apps allow for a single household to submit one MPC transaction, including answers to CBP inspection-related questions.
The MPC Mobile App, is available to U.S. citizens and Canadian B1/B2 citizens visitors. MPC is currently available at the following 31 U.S. International airports and 4 seaports of entry.
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
- Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- William P. Hobby Houston International Airport (HOU)
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
- Portland International Airport (PDX)
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- San Juan Airport (SJU)
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Tampa International Airport (TPA)
- Miami Seaport
- Palm Beach Seaport
- Port Everglades Seaport
- San Juan Seaport