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Skip the Customs Line with New Mobile Passport App

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A new mobile app allowing passengers to breeze through customs has hit the market, and TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne gives us the scoop.

The first mobile app of its kind, Mobile Passport could eventually serve as a customs-only alternative to Global Entry expedited airport security status. Authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and sponsored by North America’s Airports Council International (ACI), the free app was designed by travel app developer Airside Mobile to allow U.S. and Canadian passport holders with iPhones and iPads (and soon, Android smartphones, as well) to dispense with filling out paper customs declaration forms while traveling internationally through airports.

For now, though, the use of Mobile Passport is only available at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) with unspecified future plans to expand to other airports.

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Free to download, the Mobile Passport app may someday prove a cost-effective alternative to Global Entry.

The Mobile Passport app enables users to securely store passport info for up to four people on a mobile device, and for each international trip they take, complete a digital customs declaration form and download a digital receipt. Upon their return landing, they can bypass the traditional customs declaration line and instead proceed to an express passport control lane where they must present their passport(s) and scan their digital Mobile Passport receipt.

Setting up a profile in Mobile Passport takes five minutes, and so does adding customs declaration info for each new trip.
Mobile Passport lets you to create a one-time profile, then add customs declaration info for each new trip in order to receive a digital receipt that must be scanned in a dedicated Mobile Passport line at the airport.

It takes approximately five minutes to download the Mobile Passport app and set up a maximum of four profiles (one for you and three family members) that requires your passport information and a clear, unsmiling selfie photo taken via Mobile Passport’s direct connection to your mobile device’s camera function.

Upon returning from your international trip, the app's New Trip section accesses your profile info and allows you to fill out a digital customs declaration form. 
Upon returning from your international trip, the app’s New Trip section accesses your profile info and allows you to fill out a digital customs declaration form.

Each time you return from an international trip, you’ll need to access Wi-Fi either in the air or upon landing at the airport in order to fill out the app’s “New Trip” section, which requires you to enter your flight info and answer customs declarations questions.

Each time you fill out a customs form for a trip, you'll be given a digital receipt that must be scanned at an express passport lane.
Each time you fill out a customs form for a trip, you’ll be given a digital receipt that must be scanned at an express passport lane.

Once you’ve completed the New Trip section, you’ll receive a digital receipt with a QR code that will be valid for four hours. In order to clear customs, you and family members traveling with you must present your/their passport(s) to a CBP officer at an expedited customs line equipped with a Mobile Passport-enabled digital kiosk, where you’ll be asked to scan this digital receipt.

For now, the only U.S. airport that allows Mobile Passport expedited customs service is Atlanta's ATL.
For now, the only U.S. airport that allows Mobile Passport expedited customs service is Atlanta’s ATL.

Mobile Passport usage is presently only authorized at ATL, where it has been in its pilot stage since August 2014. Though no additional locations have yet been specified, the app’s creators hope to soon receive CBP authorization for use at all 22 U.S. airports that currently employ automated passport control (APC) kiosks to expedite customs entrance to the U.S. for international visitors and Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI holders. We’ll be keeping an eye on Mobile Passport here at TPG, and will keep you posted about its plans for expansion.

Have you traveled through ATL and had a chance to use this new app? Tell us about your experience.
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