U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trialling an iPhone app that allows travellers returning to the United States to bypass the normal immigration queues by entering their details into the app and getting a QR code containing their electronic approval.

You still have to show the code to a CBP officer, but you can bypass the normal queues and use a special Mobile Passport Control lane that should be significantly quicker … 

The app is being tested at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with at least one more airport due to join before the end of the year, ahead of expected wide-scale rollout in 2015. It is currently limited to U.S. and Canadian citizens, and is likely to be extended to citizens of countries eligible for the visa waiver program at a later date.

If you have in-flight WiFi, you can complete the electronic form up to two hours before your flight’s scheduled arrival time, otherwise completing it on arrival in the airport terminal.

An Android app will follow, but it made sense to begin with iOS, said CBP spokesperson Jennifer Evanitsky.

Airside Mobile felt that there was a sufficient number of travelers with iOS devices to sustain the pilot, especially considering the demographics of international travel and the documented rates of travel-app engagement for iOS

You can download the free app from the App Store. You can read the full press release below the fold.

New Mobile Passport Control App Available

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today announced the launch of the first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s entry process into the United States. Mobile Passport Control (MPC) will allow eligible travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via a smartphone or tablet prior to CBP inspection. This first-of-its-kind app was developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in partnership with CBP as part of a pilot program at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. IPhone and iPad users can download the app for free from Apple’s App Store.

“We are strongly committed to the facilitation of travel and tourism to the United States, all while maintaining the highest security standards in the world,” said Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Mobile Passport Control is an important step and one that we think the traveling public will embrace.”

Eligible travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will be able to use the app beginning Aug. 13. MPC is expected to expand to more airports later this year and to Android smartphone users in the future.

“CBP continues to transform the international arrivals experience for travelers by offering new and innovative ways to expedite entry into the United States, while maintaining the highest standards of security” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “By offering this app to passengers, we hope to build upon the success we have already experienced with Automated Passport Control, which has resulted in decreases in wait times as much as 25-40 percent, even with continued growth in international arrivals.”

MPC currently offers U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors a more efficient and secure in-person inspection between the CBP officer and the traveler upon arrival in the United States. Much like Automated Passport Control, the app does not require pre-approval, is free-to-use and does not collect any new information on travelers.  As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing.

“Mobile Passport exemplifies the forward-thinking commitment CBP and airports have to improving the passenger experience when entering the United States,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.  “This partnership between CBP and ACI-NA also represents an outstanding example of industry and government working together to find smart, cost-effective solutions.  We look forward to continuing our collaboration with CBP as Mobile Passport begins its roll-out at U.S. airports later this year.”

There are five easy steps to MPC:

  • Download the Mobile Passport Control App from the Apple App Store prior to arriving
  • Create a profile with your passport information
  • Complete the “New Trip” section upon arrival in the United States
  • Submit your customs declaration form through the app to receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code. This receipt will expire four hours after being issued
  • Bring your passport and smartphone or tablet with your digital bar-coded receipt to a CBP officer

ACI-NA contracted with Airside Mobile in MPC’s technical development.  Information about Mobile Passport, including how to download, user eligibility and other frequently asked questions, is available on the Travel section of the website and the Airside Mobile website.

MPC is just one part of CBP’s resource optimization strategy which is transforming the way CBP does business in land, air and sea environments. As part of its commitment to innovation, CBP last year rolled out Automated Passport Control, which is now available in 22 locations, and automated the I-94 form. CBP has also enrolled more than two million travelers in trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI. These programs allow CBP officers to process travelers safely and efficiently while enhancing security and reducing operational costs.

Via Skift 

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15 Responses to “Skipping the US Customs and Border Protection queues? There’s now an app for that …”

  1. We’ve got chipped passports in the EU. Years ahead.


    • Personally, I would consider this method superior to a chipped passport for the simple fact that it minimizes the necessity to actually take out your passport (which contributes to wear and increases chances of loss.

      You’re far more likely to naturally have your phone readily-equipped and if they could eventually expedite this process in a similar fashion to, for example, scanning a rail pass as you pass through a turnstile that would be amazing.

      Those long immigration lines (both foreign and domestic) are definitely up there among the biggest hassles for me when I travel internationally.


    • daving313 says:

      The US has issued Passports with chips since 2007. Nice try though.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jkdman123 says:

      You still need to fill out a paper immigration form regardless of whether you have a chipped passport or not. We have chipped passports in the US, too. The app saves the time to process the paper form.


    • US entry is quite different though; they fingerprint everyone, and don’t have a Schengen-style open borders agreement with anyone.

      However, they don’t even have chips in their debit cards yet. Maybe they’re attempting security by obsolescence?

      Though perhaps we can ask Nokia what happens when you ignore America as technically backwards and assume they’ll be perpetually so?


      • The U.S. is getting chip and pin debit cards in October 2015. The reason we don’t have them yet is that U.S. banks handle fraud differently than European banks. In Europe, the more secure chip-and-pin system is used because banks don’t provide nearly as much fraud protection as U.S. banks do (in the US if someone uses a cloned magstripe card for a purchase and forges your signature, your bank almost always just absorbs that cost, if you let them know). However, U.S. banks don’t want to carry that much risk anymore, so they have been pushing for EMV (chip and pin) cards for a while, and the “liability shift” from banks to merchants will happen in 2015, which incentivizes merchants to get chip-and-pin capable card readers. Actually, most newer card readers in the U.S. are already chip-and-pin capable, people just aren’t used to it yet.

        As far as passports, the U.S. already has chipped passports just like the E.U. Re-entering the U.S. as an American citizen currently requires you to show your passport to an immigration officer, and then hand them a piece of paper with written declarations (its just checkboxes) on goods carried back in. Pictures and fingerprints are not taken of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This app just replaces the piece of paper for customs. As far as I could tell in Europe when traveling there, EU citizens had exactly the same process when re-entering the Schengen area – show or scan one’s passport, and fill out a customs declaration card.

        Travelling between EU member states is basically like traveling between American states – no border checks on flights between New York and California, for example.


  2. Thos of us who travel often already have Global Entry which provides this simple capability using the kiosks. $100 and it’s good for 5 years. If you fly often enough your airline likely pays this for you as well. Having Global Entry also gets you TSA PreCheck if you enter your # in the Known Traveler Number when booking. Easily saved myself tens of hours in security lines and customs lines with this.


    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Yep, the kiosks were definitely a step in the right direction (we had a similar scheme here in the UK called IRIS, which was unfortunately phased-out when the chip-scanning booths launched). Looks like this should be even faster.


  3. Overlord says:

    “We are strongly committed to the facilitation of travel and tourism to the United States, all while maintaining the highest security standards in the world”


    It’s a pain to travel to US if you are brazilian.
    All that mambo jambo on US embassy (waiting, interviews) is too much suffering for a travel.

    I’d prefer to go spend my money on Europe or Asia.


    • jkdman123 says:

      There are issues with many Brazilians coming to the US and illegally overstaying their visas. So you only have your fellow Brazilians to blame for the reason why the US makes it hard for you to visit here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, were did your (grand-)/parents come from?
        Please do not forget that they came for better life to America.
        Exactly the same reason as Brazilians, Polish, Jewish,…
        Or maybe you belong to Apache or Navajos people?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Overlord says:

        BS again!

        The visa isn’t denied.
        The problem is the bureaucracy… even for brazilians who already travel for US a lot of times.


      • jkdman123 says:

        “Hey, were did your (grand-)/parents come from?
        Please do not forget that they came for better life to America.
        Exactly the same reason as Brazilians, Polish, Jewish,…
        Or maybe you belong to Apache or Navajos people?”

        That argument is irrelevant. If you go back far enough then everyone is African. Does that mean everyone in the world should automatically be a citizen or allowed to travel freely to the African country where the oldest human remains have been found? I agree that many people want to come to the US for the possibility of finding a better life. However, the US can’t accommodate all of them all at once. We have the absolute sovereign right to control immigration. Should we just let in ANYONE whether or not they’re a criminal or have a highly infectious disease? The vast majority of Americans say no.

        “BS again!

        The visa isn’t denied.
        The problem is the bureaucracy… even for brazilians who already travel for US a lot of times.”

        Again, the bureaucracy exists because there are many Brazilians who would come to the US and never leave. We don’t have that problem to that extent with wealthier countries on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program like Japan and the UK.


  4. why would you install a government controlled app on your personal device? i’d rather pay for the global scan thingy they have which let’s you bypass those lines and deal with a machine


  5. anon says:

    Ya sounds like a great way for terrorists to get into the country. Ya, why didn’t I think of that…..