U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trialling an iPhone app that allows travellers returning to the USA 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 roll-out 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
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 CBP.gov 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.