What is Mobile Passport for International Travel?

Posted on May 31, 2022
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You may have noticed signs touting “Mobile Passport” at US Customs and Border Protection if you’ve recently traveled overseas. However, you most likely did not notice a long line at that specific spot.

Mobile Passport is a handy tool for returning to the United States from another nation, but many people are uninformed about what it is or how to use it. You are not alone in your struggle. 

This in-depth guide to Mobile Passport will teach you everything you need to know about the program and will help you go through US Customs and Border Protection as soon as possible.

What is Mobile Passport?

Mobile Passport is a program that allows qualified US and Canadian citizens to enter the US more quickly. Instead of filling out a paper form, travelers can use the Mobile Passport app to submit their passport and declaration information to Customs and Border Protection electronically.

Mobile Passport is a travel app that was introduced in 2014 and has proven its worth. However, keep in mind that it is only for travelers arriving in the United States. It is a program issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection in collaboration with the Airports Council International of North America.

When travelers return to the United States from an international trip, the program is designed to help them move more quickly through US Customs and Border Protection checkpoints.

Here are some requirements for mobile passports: 

  • Mobile Passport requires an iOS or Android mobile device to participate. On either operating system, the app can be downloaded for free.
  • A traveler needs Wi-Fi or mobile data service at their participating point of entry into the United States to use Mobile Passport once it has been downloaded.
  • Travelers must fill out the required trip and declaration questions in their app upon arrival and submit the information to US Customs and Border Protection.

The data sent from the Mobile Passport app takes the place of the paper forms that passengers must usually fill out before their arrival. On the flight or inland, you no longer need a pen or to fill out arrival forms. Travelers using Mobile Passport can skip the passport review and breeze through the US Customs and Border Protection checkpoint.

Who is Eligible to Use the Mobile Passport App?

Only US citizens with a valid passport and Canadian citizens with a valid passport and B1 or B2 visa status are eligible for Mobile Passport Control. To use the app, you must have your passport in your possession.

At the time of entry, you must have the Mobile Passport app installed on an iOS or Android device with Wi-Fi or mobile internet service.

How Does Mobile Passport Work?

The Mobile Passport app is free and can be downloaded from the app store for iOS and Android devices. Unlike Global Entry, there is no significantly longer application process, no interview appointment that appears to require weeks or months of waiting, and there is no cost. (Unless you pay a monthly or annual fee for Mobile Passport Plus, a premium version that enables you to scan and store passports digitally rather than having to upload your information every time you travel.) 

Both versions of Mobile Passport are available to US citizens and Canadian citizens with B1 or B2 visa status.

How to Use the Mobile Passport App

The encrypted Mobile Passport application asks you to create a profile, take a selfie, and respond to questions about your travel. It can be protected with a PIN or touch/face ID using your phone’s settings. The app will then send the encrypted data to Customs and Border Patrol, and you’ll receive a barcode to scan at an officer’s booth on your phone. The barcode has a four-hour validity period.

Mobile Passport users hand over their passports and scan the code on the app once they arrive at the officer’s booth. Although the officer may still ask questions, dedicated lines typically result in much faster processing than the general arrival queue.

Simply follow these steps when you return to the United States at a Mobile Passport location:

  1. Open the app and re-enter all of your passport information in the free version (paid version stores your passport info).
  2. Respond to 5 short questions about your trip.
  3. Examine all of the information displayed in the app about your trip. Make certain that everything is correct.
  4. Then, submit your information to Customs and Border Protection electronically.
  5. After submitting your information, you will receive an electronic receipt with an encrypted barcode. This should only take a few seconds to obtain and is valid for four hours.
  6. Finally, follow the Mobile Passport Control signs to the Customs and Border Protection officer, show your passport, and scan the barcode on your receipt. You must be good to go once this is done.

Many airports have specialized lines for users of the Mobile Passport app, saving time by eliminating the need to wait in line with travelers submitting their arrival details at a physical kiosk. Each airport is unique. Some places mix the Mobile Passport line with other lanes before sending you to a separate booth to finish the process.

What is Mobile Passport Plus?

Instead of manually entering the information, Mobile Passport plus allows you to scan your passport with your device’s camera. To save you time, your information will be saved in the app. 

The premium version also saves a history of your trips, so you can edit fields from previous entries and use them as a quick template for a new trip.

Users of Mobile Passport can upgrade to the ad-free, premium Mobile Passport plus version for $14.99 per year (or $4.99 per month) to save information like their passport number and expiration date, as well as a personal photo within the app.

Where Can Mobile Passport Be Used?

Mobile Passport lines are not available at all international arrival airports in the United States (they are currently available at 27 airports and four cruise ports). Detroit, Las Vegas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, are notable airports with many international flights that are not on the list. However, Mobile Passport reports that more airports will join the program soon.

Airports that Accept Mobile Passports

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Baltimore (BWI) – Baltimore-Washington International Airport
  • Boston (BOS) – Boston Logan International Airport
  • Chicago (ORD) – Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Dallas (DFW) – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
  • Denver (DEN) – Denver International Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Houston
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), Houston
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Los Angeles
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Miami
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP), Minneapolis
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Philadelphia
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Pittsburgh
  • Portland International Airport (PDX), Portland
  • Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU), Raleigh Durham
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF), Sacramento
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN), San Diego
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco
  • Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), San Jose
  • Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU), San Juan
  • Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Seattle
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA), Tampa
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Washington, D.C.

Cruise Ports that accept Mobile Passports

  • Port Everglades (PEV), Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami Seaport (MSE), Miami
  • Port of Palm Beach (WPB), West Palm Beach
  • Port of San Juan (PUE), San Juan

What is the Difference Between Mobile Passports and Global Entry?

Mobile Passport is a relatively new service. Although it offers some of the same benefits as Global Entry, there are a few key differences that make each program appealing.

Approval for Global Entry is considerably more difficult. A lengthy online application, a $100 application fee, a background check, and an in-person interview are all required. You must reapply and pay the fee every 5 years after being approved.

Global Entry also employs a kiosk system that handles your declarations, identification verification, and passport check without requiring you to wait in line to speak with a person. There is no faster way to get through Customs and Border Protection than with Global Entry when there is no line for the kiosks.

Mobile Passport may be the best option in those situations or if you’re traveling with family members who don’t have Global Entry. Even if you don’t have your family members pre-registered in your app, your trip through the checkpoint will be significantly faster than going through the regular line.

With the launch of Mobile Passport Plus, which costs $14.99 per year or $4.99 per month, or $74.95 for five years, you now have to pay nearly as much as Global Entry just to have the app store your passport information for each trip. 

Family members can travel on the same profile with Mobile Passport Plus; up to 9 passengers on the Android app and 12 on the iPhone app.

But in the free Mobile Passport App, you must manually enter your information for each trip.

Is it possible to include family members?

Unlike Global Entry, which requires each person to apply and be approved individually, Mobile Passport allows you to create a profile for members of the same household and submit it as a single transaction, removing the need to enter the same information for each person. However, Everyone must have a valid US passport or a valid Canadian passport with B1 or B2 visa status.

Conclusion on Mobile Passport

As we’ve seen, Mobile Passport is an excellent program that can significantly reduce the time it takes to clear Customs and Border Protection when returning to the US. Starting with Mobile Passport is quick and easy, with an easy-to-use app that lets you securely store information for your entire family as long as you meet the basic requirements to sign up.

If your travels take you outside of the United States, the free Mobile Passport app can help you get through customs faster when you return. It’s free, and you won’t have to go through the lengthy approval and interview process that Global Entry requires.

If you don’t want to pay for Global Entry or go through the lengthy application process. In that case, Mobile Passport is a great alternative that makes returning to the United States easier and faster.

At $14.99 per year, Mobile Passport plus is a much more tough choice. You can save your own passport and your family members, so you don’t have to enter them each time or carry multiple devices.

Download Mobile Passport today and have it ready for your next trip abroad.

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