Have you heard of Mobile Passport? This free — yes, free — mobile app is quickly becoming utilized at most major airports and saving travelers, and customs agents, tons of time.
You’ve probably seen the signs for Global Entry when arriving back in the United States. I always look over at these short lines enviously as people are expedited through the customs process. But I can never justify its $100 fee.
Plus you have to schedule an appointment, be pre-approved, go through a background check and an in-person interview. And with the closest office normally being at your closest major airport, this process just isn’t feasible for many people. Have I mentioned that Global Entry only lasts for five years, and then you may have to go through the whole process again?
Enter Mobile Passport (www.mobilepassport.us). This app, which can be downloaded to any smartphone or tablet, is the quick solution for those who just don’t want to go through the process of applying for Global Entry. All U.S. travelers are welcome to download the app, enter their passport information, answer the same questions you would be answering on the kiosk machines or the paper form, and get in a shorter line than the normal customs line. And yes — all family members can be included in one app profile, so you don’t have to split up or download the app for each member of your family.
A code is sent to your phone to help clear you through customs, but it must be used within four hours of first inputting your information. The app does have a version where you can pay a mere $14.99 a year to store your information, making it even easier for passengers.
At Kennedy International Airport in New York, passengers sometimes waited over three hours in the standard customs line, while those arriving at Los Angeles International could wait up to 3 hours and 41 minutes in the standard line. After flying internationally, the last thing I want to do is wait in an absurd customs line — especially if I have a connecting flight to catch.
Mobile Passport is growing in popularity — with more than 7 million downloads — but the automated system still allows travelers to wait in much shorter lines when re-entering the country. On average, the system processes over 30,000 travelers a day coming back into the U.S.
The app can be used at 27 different airports — including Minneapolis-St. Paul — and at four cruise ports.
So next time you’re stuck in a busy customs line coming home, be on the lookout for the Mobile Passport signs. The process is so easy that you can even download the app, input your information and jump into the fast lane in a matter of minutes.