How to skip the airport's US Customs line with your iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2016
An iPhone app authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows users to submit entry information over the internet after landing, allowing them to skip the line at the airport and potentially re-enter the country much faster than usual.




Using the Mobile Passport app from Airside Mobile, U.S. and Canadian citizens with B1 or B2 passports can pre-enter the majority of the data for the standard U.S. Customs screening, including answering the same questions traditionally asked via a paper form at the airport. Completing the screening details on the mobile app grants users access to an expedited line at Customs intended solely for Mobile Passport users.

AppleInsider spoke with a U.S. Customs official at Orlando International Airport on Thursday morning, who said that the conventional line for U.S. entry currently had an estimated 84-minute wait time.

The line for Mobile Passport users, however, had no line whatsoever Thursday morning. The official also said the longest queue they had seen for Mobile Passport users was about five people, at peak arrival times.

With the app, profiles can be configured in-app to streamline an entire family's entry. Initial data entry does not require an Internet connection, though all information entered into the app must be identical to the passport for the traveller.

Following data entry, the same questions asked on the paper form at the airport are asked by the app. After the plane lands, users connect to either a cellular network or Wi-Fi, and submit the entered data. In a few minutes, a barcode is returned to the app that is valid at the Mobile Passport Control desk for up to four hours. All information is encrypted, and shared only with Customs and Border Protection.


New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport supports Mobile Passport entry. Photo via Wikipedia.


There are a few caveats to the process. The Mobile Passport app is not a substitute for the physical passport -- it only automates the arrival form completion and submission. Additionally, the Mobile Passport Control express line hasn't been deployed everywhere. Currently, the app can be used at these airports:

  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Newark International Airport (EWR)
  • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)


Airports advertised as coming soon are:

  • Raleigh Durham (RDU)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)


Mobile Passport requires iOS 8 or greater, and occupies 20.4MB of space. No specific iOS device is required.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,104member
    Very handy.

    Surprised Boston is not on that list.
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 2 of 20
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,782member
    Earlier this year I reentered the US from abroad landing at LAX and it literally could not have been any faster. Walk up to a kiosk, scan passport, pose for photo, grab luggage and maybe 2 minutes in line to hand over the questionnaire, toss baggage on the conveyor x-ray and done. Maybe 10 minutes max. Now leaving LAX, that was a different story. About an hour in line and I do have TSA Precheck.
    lordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 3 of 20
    Just concerned about the "In-App Purchases". I would like a little bit more transparency about what they're charging for and when, as well as what they're storing and where. I'm not exactly thrilled about a company storing my passport information and travel pattern, or wasting time creating an account only to find out that I'll have to pay every time I submit a border entry through the app -- something I can do just as easily and for free from one of the convenient kiosks at any of the supported airports.
    teaearlegreyhotJanNLpscooter63lostkiwi
  • Reply 4 of 20
    gprovidagprovida Posts: 247member
    Let's give a big shout out to once again Boston Logan Airport ability to maximize traveler inconvenience and technology lag. 
    ktappe
  • Reply 5 of 20
    jjesseyjjessey Posts: 3member
    No need for this if you're enrolled in Global Entry, is there??

    edited July 2016 teaearlegreyhot
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Just concerned about the "In-App Purchases". I would like a little bit more transparency about what they're charging for and when, as well as what they're storing and where. I'm not exactly thrilled about a company storing my passport information and travel pattern....
    I agree 100%.   Please explain the "in-app purchases".  And please clarify what information is being stored, and by whom.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    jjessey said:
    No need for this if you're enrolled in Global Entry, is there??
    I'm assuming not.  But it's a lot easier to get TSApre than GE.  I would have had to drive 6+hr roundtrip to get GE, which would more than counteract any time saved by the GE benefit.  So this app might be useful for those of us who didn't get GE.  Assuming the undisclosed "in-app purchases" are nominal and rare, and assuming none of my data is being stored by the company.

    edited July 2016
  • Reply 8 of 20
    snarbinsnarbin Posts: 2member
    A few weeks ago traveling from Canada to Chicago ORD, 4 of us tried this app, and upon tapping submit it gave us errors. Then we all had to fill out the paper form that we had passed on during the flight, which we then one of us didn't end up needing because ORD had kiosks, but a different three couldn't even succeed on the kiosk despite one going through on the app. So it seemed like a good idea that completely failed for us. Hopefully they improve it soon to give me confidence to not have to fill out the paper form again.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member
    jjessey said:
    No need for this if you're enrolled in Global Entry, is there??
    I'm assuming not.  But it's a lot easier to get TSApre than GE.  I would have had to drive 6+hr roundtrip to get GE, which would more than counteract any time saved by the GE benefit.  So this app might be useful for those of us who didn't get GE.  Assuming the undisclosed "in-app purchases" are nominal and rare, and assuming none of my data is being stored by the company.

    Global Entry is totally worth it. I'm sure you would have made up the time (assuming you travel overseas frequently) because you also get TSA Precheck with Global Entry. 
  • Reply 10 of 20
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member
    I assume this article meant anyone with a Canadian or American passport because there is no such thing as a B1/B2 passport. B1 and B2 are visas. 
    ktappe
  • Reply 11 of 20
    theedgetheedge Posts: 10member
    jjessey said:
    No need for this if you're enrolled in Global Entry, is there??

    I was going to post this exact-same question. With Global Entry one uses a kiosk and the line is shorter. Does this avoid a trip to the kiosk for reentry?  Does this app only help with customs, or does it also work with passport control? Could the article's author follow up on this aspect of the story?
  • Reply 12 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,994member
    Air travel has become such a hassle I'm glad I no longer have to do it except on rare occasions. Awful experience every time.
    docno42
  • Reply 13 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,799member
    I thought this mnight a sarcastic story about the guy who got picked out at an airport for having an iPhone case shaped like a gun

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/passengers-gun-iphone-case-sparks-security-alert-at-stansted-a3290001.html
  • Reply 14 of 20
    I would have had to drive 6+hr roundtrip to get GE, which would more than counteract any time saved by the GE benefit.

    Global Entry is totally worth it. I'm sure you would have made up the time (assuming you travel overseas frequently) because you also get TSA Precheck with Global Entry. 
    Yeah, I knew it included TSApre, but I only travel internationally every couple years, so not worth the 6hr drive for me.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    why-why- Posts: 305member
    crowley said:
    I thought this mnight a sarcastic story about the guy who got picked out at an airport for having an iPhone case shaped like a gun

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/passengers-gun-iphone-case-sparks-security-alert-at-stansted-a3290001.html
    why anyone would think that's a good idea is beyond me smh
  • Reply 16 of 20
    bigmikebigmike Posts: 252member
    I can smell the hackers now...
  • Reply 17 of 20
    Why is my his app not belonging to the government?  Not that the government has a clue about security but at least I know what I am getting as opposed to a totally unknown 3rd party possibly managing and or losing data. 
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Why is my his app not belonging to the government?  Not that the government has a clue about security but at least I know what I am getting as opposed to a totally unknown 3rd party possibly managing and or losing data. 
    Maybe the job of writing and distributing the app went out for bid as a gov't contract.   You know, to support the private sector and be capitalistic and all that.   Instead of hiring programmers onto the payroll for a short term job.  
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 19 of 20
    dougddougd Posts: 236member
    Where is LAX ? I'd love to get past the pigs asking why was I out of the country
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 20 of 20
    I saw this app advertised on a banner at ORD, on our way out to Jamaica, last month. So, I downloaded it, put mine and my wifey's passport info in. On our flight back, this app was clutch. Our flight was almost 2 hrs late. We literally breezed through customs in less than 5 minutes, since all they did was scan the QR codes on my phone at both check points. Pretty awesome, in my experience!
    docno42
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