App speeds Customs inspection for travelers

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced an app to speed travelers’ entry into the United States. The Mobile Passport Control iOS app lets eligible travelers submit their passport information and customs declaration form prior to a CPB inspection via a smartphone or tablet instead of via the traditional paper form.

Mobile Passport Control is CBP’s latest effort to maximize automation. Last year, CBP rolled out Automated Passport Control kiosks, which are now available in 22 locations, and automated the I-94 arrival-departure form. CBP has also enrolled more than 2 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, the agency said.

The app was developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America in partnership with CBP and will be tested at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport beginning Aug. 13.

Mobile Passport Control users download the app and set up a profile with their passport data, selecting arrival airport and airline, taking a “selfie” photo and answering standard customs declaration questions. Upon arrival, the traveler uses the app to submit this information along with the profile data to CBP. After reviewing the submission, CBP sends a digital, secure bar-coded receipt to the traveler’s smartphone via the app.

The travelers proceed through the arrivals area, following the Mobile Passport Control signs until prompted by Customs officials to place the digital bar-coded receipt on the barcode scanner and present their passport. Unless further inspection is necessary, passengers then exits the arrivals area.

Since the administrative tasks are performed by the traveler prior to the passport control inspection, the app reduces passport control inspection time and overall wait times. Plus, the app lets travelers use a special, faster lane as they go through customs.

“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.”

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.  U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors can use Mobile Passport Control. Travelers must have an Apple iPhone or other iOS device that can connect to the Internet or mobile network.

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