How Mobile Passport Control Works
Quick Quiz: Is waiting in line your favorite part of traveling? Yes or no?
If your answer is no, it’s time to check out Mobile Passport Control (MPC), one of our favorite travel apps.
MPC is a free app that streamlines re-entry into the United States for U.S. and Canadian passport holders. The way this travel app saves time is three-fold. First, you complete documents on the app instead of on paper – you can even get started before you deplane. Second, it grants you access to a special line dedicated to MPC users (sometimes combined with Global Entry users). Third, that line moves like lightning because most of the business of customs is already done, and all the customers ahead of you are as savvy and streamlined as you are.
The app comes from Airside Mobile and was developed by the same team that brought us the mobile boarding pass. It’s fully approved by United States Customs and Border Control. Since its 2014 launch in Atlanta Georgia, Mobile Passport Control has expanded and is now accepted at 27 airports and four ports as of November 2019.
How to Use Mobile Passport Control
Interested? The first step is downloading the free app from the Google Play Store (for Android) or Apple App Store (for iPhones). Do this in the comfort of your home or hotel room, and explore the app to get familiar with navigation.
When returning to the U.S. at one of the participating airports, just open up the app, hop onto Wi-Fi or mobile data, enter your passport and personal information, and take an in-app selfie. Next, complete the “new trip” section. Select your airline and arrival airport and answer the usual series of Customs and Border Patrol questions related to inspection.
Press submit. (Have you deplaned yet?)
The MPC app returns an electronic receipt including an encrypted Quick Response (QR) code. When you get to the customs area, just look for the line designated MPC. Simply present your physical passport and the QR-code on your mobile device to a customs officer. She’ll finalize your inspection for entry, welcome you back into the U.S., and send you along to baggage claim, probably within a minute or two.
The app is also available as a paid premium version at $14.99 per year. With premium, you get a built-in scanner to capture passport information for up to 12 family members, and secure storage of profiles and data on your phone, not on the cloud. The paid app also promises an ad-free experience.
Mobile Passport Control is one of our favorite travel hacks. Download the app if you’d rather be sightseeing than standing in line. See you at baggage claim!