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Flying internationally? Here’s what you need to know about the Mobile Passport app CBP MPC

Aug. 23, 2022
4 min read
person holds mobile passport card
Flying internationally? Here’s what you need to know about the Mobile Passport app CBP MPC
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I’m a big fan of Mobile Passport and have been a loyal user for many years. It’s my entry expediting program of choice when I arrive back in the U.S. from overseas and want to avoid long lines at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

By late September, eligible U.S. citizens and Canadian citizen visitors will be able to use Mobile Passport at 38 airport and seaport locations. CBP is expanding Mobile Passport for travelers to use at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), followed by Vancouver International Airport (YVR) next month, according to a press release issued by CBP on Aug. 23.

It's also available at two of the three New York City airports near my home — John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), the latter of which I frequent most.

At both JFK and EWR, Mobile Passport funnels me into the Diplomats line, providing the equivalent of VIP service, for free. I was concerned and disappointed when it seemed the service was being phased out in the past few months. However, it turns out it's just the app to use Mobile Passport that changed.

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When I arrived at EWR from Heathrow Airport (LHR) in late April, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could still use Mobile Passport despite one big difference: The app name and appearance changed.

The old version of the Mobile Passport app home page. (Screenshot from Mobile Passport app)

Although not all details about the program are clear right now, CBP confirmed that the CBP MPC app has replaced the Mobile Passport app.

New Mobile Passport Control App home screen. (Screenshot from CBP MPC)

According to a representative from Airside, the developer of the original Mobile Passport app, the blue and white airport pilot icon in both the Apple and Google Play app stores is now just a placeholder. When you click it, you’ll be directed to the CBP MPC app, which stands for Customs Border Protection Mobile Passport Control.

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Long acronym short, this is still Mobile Passport, but now operated directly by CBP instead of Airside, a change effective Feb. 1, 2022.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Mobile Passport, it’s a free service that speeds up entry at selected ports and airports around the country. At its most basic level, it generates a digital version of the required customs form to complete on your phone.

Related: Travelers are reporting issues with using Mobile Passport at certain airports

The new app will work the same as the previous version, according to CBP.

First, travelers download the CBP MPC app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store (do this when you have Wi-Fi).

Then, once they land in the US, “travelers will select their arrival airport or seaport and terminal, take a self-photo, and answer a series of CBP inspection-related questions,” per CBP. “Once the traveler submits their transaction through the app, the traveler will receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code. Travelers then bring their physical passport and mobile device with their digital QR-coded receipt to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the United States.”

Unlike Global Entry, which costs $100 for a five-year membership, Mobile Passport is free and does not require travelers to apply or get approved (a process that can take up to 730 days, according to the CBP).

One noticeable difference between the new CBP version and the original Mobile Passport is that there is no paid, upgraded version. Previously, the Airside model had offered a paid version that stored your information so you didn’t have to reload it each time (as you did with the unpaid basic offering).

My current experience with the CBP MPC is that it indicates that my information (and that of my husband and son, whom I also added to my app) is stored for future use.

Additional reporting by Caroline Tanner.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
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Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees