Poor Mobile Passport Control. While travelers rave about Global Entry for expedited border crossing, Mobile Passport Control (MPC) sits quietly in the background, waiting for somebody to notice them.
Mobile Passport Control: It’s Real and it’s Fantastic
Mobile Passport Control is a great, but less well-known, alternative to Global Entry to enter the country. Originally created in 2014, MPC is simply an electronic version of the paper form that we’re all so used to. You’ll download an app and create a profile for yourself (as well as up to 11 of your favorite family members). Just put in your passport information, date of birth and all of the other usual “stuff” that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) likes to see. Save the information as your profile and it will be ready to go whenever you have a border crossing.
I used Mobile Passport Control for the first time this week, and it was as easy as advertised. As soon as my flight landed, I pulled up the MPC app. It asked me for my flight information and then went through the standard six questions for Customs. By the time that I arrived at the gate, the app had already generated the bar code that would let me speed through the line. Boston is one of 31 US airports (You can see the full list here.) that offers a special line for MPC users and I was one of only a few people who had the app. I went right to the counter, flashed my bar code and that was it. The agent couldn’t have been less interested and pretty much waved me through.
Speeding through Passport Control
MPC is similar to Global Entry, in that it speeds you through passport control. Each has particular benefits, but Mobile Passport Control is free, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t have it on your phone. Among other reasons:
- There’s no interview or background check. I assume that, if your name is on a list, MPC simply won’t work for you. Otherwise, you’ll save the several month wait to get a Global Entry interview.
- As I just noted, the app is free and there is no fee to use it. Global Entry has a $100 fee with it, although several credit cards will refund the $100 every four years.
- There is no need to stop at a kiosk when you get off the plane. The bar code on your phone is the equivalent of the printout from the GE kiosk.
- In addition to 31 US airports, you can use MPC at 3 Canadian locations and 4 seaport entries.
- Your whole family can be on one profile.
There aren’t a lot of downsides to MPC, other than if you arrive at an airport that doesn’t use it. Likewise, most airports only have one booth, so if there are tons of MPC users (unlikely), there may be a bit of a wait.
Get the App. There’s no Downside
MPC can be a lifesaver (and line-saver) for those people who don’t want Global Entry or are not eligible for it. Have both? No problem. When you get to the airport, decide which line looks shorter and use that one. Either way, you’ll escape those Disney-like rope lines.