Many of you know that we recently did a video and post on Global Entry and how to maximize the benefits. While I think Global Entry is an awesome program that is worth getting, especially if you have a credit card that will pay for it, I wanted to also review a program called Mobile Passport that’s been implemented at airports across the US. I’ll cover how to get a Mobile Passport, as well as some tips to consider.
What is Mobile Passport?
Mobile Passport is a free program authorized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows you to move quickly through checkpoints when returning to the US from an international trip. The program is essentially an app that you can download for free on your iOS or Android device. The app allows you to store your passport and personal information. When you arrive back into the country, you complete the customs declaration form on the app rather than filling out the blue form. This basically translates into five quick questions on the app. Assuming that you have connectivity when you land, you then submit the form, which then goes to CBP. You’ll immediately get an electronic receipt that contains a custom barcode, which is valid for four hours. Once you get to the customs line at the airport, look for the Mobile Passport sign. When you get to the CBP officer, just show them the barcode so they can scan it. Once the system verifies information, you should be cleared to go.
It’s really that simple and easy. If you plan to use it, here are some things to consider and keep in mind.
Tips and Considerations
1. Family members:
If you’re traveling with multiple family members, you don’t have to load the app on separate devices. The app allows you to create up to 12 additional profiles within a single app. This makes it easy when traveling with kids.
2. Limited airports:
As of early 2018, Mobile Passport is only available at 25 airports. I expect this list to grow, but it’s important to check whether your arrival airport is on the list.
Since you need to submit your entered information to CBP, you’ll need to have some sort of connectivity when you land. This shouldn’t be a problem for most folks as most people have a data plan these days. But I know that sometimes my reception can be a bit slow and unreliable when I arrive at a crowded airport. I suggest turning on your phone as soon as you land so you can submit it while your plane is taxiing to the gate. I would avoid submitting it when you’re in the customs area as you might have limited service and connectivity in those areas.
As of February 2018, only US citizens and Canadian visitors can use the service. Lawful Permanent Residents are not eligible to use the program, but CBP says that they are looking to expand the service soon.
What About Global Entry?
How does this compare to Global Entry? If you haven’t seen our Global Entry video, make sure you check it out for more details. Basically, Global Entry requires you to enter the same questions on a special kiosk when you get to customs. The cost is $100, but the service lasts for five years and includes TSA PreCheck, which is an awesome bonus. The inclusion of TSA PreCheck is, in my opinion, the biggest benefit of the program.
If you have Global Entry then you probably won’t need Mobile Passport. However, I have heard of folks who set-up a Mobile Passport just in case the line is shorter than the Global Entry line. It’s not a bad strategy, and can probably save you some time if you’re able to submit your Mobile Passport request at customs.
Have you used the Mobile Passport service? If so, please share your experience below.
- “This Super-simple (and free) Airport Hack Lets You Skip the Line at US Customs” (Well and Good)
- “Should You Pay For Global Entry Or Use Mobile Passport Control For Free?” (MileCards)