Time is money – that's the saying, anyway. But saving time also saves our sanity. When traveling, anything we can do to get through those long lines faster is definitely worth considering. That's where mobile passport control (MPC) helps us out immensely. Similar to TSA Pre-check, this new(ish) app from the US Customs and Border Protection expedites the process of getting through customs when returning to the US..
What is mobile passport control?
Simply put, the answer to “What’s an MPC?” is that it’s an app that helps travelers navigate through customs faster. Travelers can submit their travel document, photo, and customs declaration information electronically through a secure app instead of filling out paper forms and waiting in long lines. .
When traveling abroad, some rules and regulations must be followed when re-entering the US. The MPC app helps expedite the arrival process..
How does MPC work?
The mobile passport control app doesn’t replace your passport; instead, it streamlines the process of checking back into the country after you have been away. The passport app helps to eliminate time spent waiting in lines. Here is how to use the MPC app:
- Download the app and create a profile using information from your passport.
- Select "preclearance" on the app when arriving at a pre-approved airport.
- Take a selfie and answer the border patrol questions.
- Receive your QR code.
- Use the QR code and your physical passport to expedite your trip through customs.
If you aren’t sure if the MPC app is safe, or you have been wondering how mobile passport control works, the best way is to download the app and follow the step-by-step instructions. It's pretty simple once you’re in there.
Mobile Passport Control Eligibility
The MPC app is designed for US citizens and legal permanent residents. Those seeking a mobile passport control green card must show that they are legal permanent residents of the US to be eligible to use the app.
For legal US citizens with passports, eligibility requirements have been met by applying for and receiving a passport. This app is to be used with that passport, but remember, it doesn’t replace the need to carry your passport when you travel.
Global Entry vs Mobile Passport Control
You may be thinking that the Mobile Passport Control app sounds like the existing Global Entry program. While the concepts and goals for using them are similar, there are key differences between using the app for mobile passport control vs. global entry and its process.
Uploading all of your official travel documents and passport information in advance is what the passport app does. The passport app is free to download and use. US Customs and Border Protection provides this app to allow eligible travelers to expedite getting through the immigration lines when re-entering the US from abroad. It's tied right to your passport and essentially streamlines the paperwork process.
Providing expedited border-control screening to travelers who have been deemed low-risk is what global entry does. Global Entry is an added privilege and involves a background check. There's an extensive application process and even some traffic citations can render you ineligible for approval.
Unlike using the MPC app, Global Entry is not free. Applying to the program costs $100, and if you are approved, you will need to renew your application every five years.
International travel is a great way to expand your horizons and learn about different cultures around the world. But it can come with some surprises if you are not prepared. Check out our guide with tips for traveling abroad for some great insider expertise on how to travel like a pro, wherever you roam.
BONUS TIP: When it’s time to get packing, make sure your bags are the right size and weight for the airline you plan to fly. Often, international airlines have different requirements than domestic carriers. Travel goes much more smoothly when you have the proper luggage. For ease, Travelpro takes the guesswork out of shopping for luggage that will go the distance. Shop our international-sized carry-on bags here