A New App Lets You Skip Immigration Lines (No Global Entry Required)
Haven’t had the time or inclination to go through the Global Entry application process? A new app, Mobile Passport Control (for iOS and Android), lets you access express immigration lanes at participating airports. Just download the software and when you land, use it to fill out a customs form and submit a selfie; the app generates a QR code that a customs officer can scan with your passport.
Unlike Global Entry, MPC doesn’t require any interviews or fees. And though it also doesn’t let you skip lines completely, it is meant to move everyone through the system faster.
“Think of it like a tollbooth,” says John Wagner of U.S. Customs & Border Control. “Global Entry is your E-ZPass lane; this is your exact-change lane.” The app launched in 2014 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, this year will be rolled out to 20 of the busiest U.S. airports.
Related: Should You Get a SENTRI Pass?
Three years ago, U.S. Customs and Border Protection was taking heat from politicians, airlines, and especially the passengers who disembarked from long flights only to be faced with hours-long waits at immigration. The queues have improved, in part because there are more customs officers at work—but also thanks to systems that eliminate or reduce the human face-to-face factor: Global Entry, which allows pre-screened travelers to check in at kiosks, and Automated Passport Control, which lets travelers fill in customs forms and scan their passports at machines at more than 30 airports around the U.S.
More than 68 million Americans traveled to another country in 2014—an increase of 10 percent from the year before, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And we’re not the only people with wanderlust. Mobile Passport is just one the many systems that countries—and sometimes individual airports—have introduced to keep travelers moving.