Flying internationally? Here’s what you need to know about new Mobile Passport app CBP MPC
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. At the New York-area airports near my home, the free program funnels me into the Diplomats queue, providing the equivalent of VIP service for free. So, I was concerned and disappointed when it seemed as though the service was being phased out in the past few months.
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However, when I arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) from Heathrow Airport (LHR) two weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was still able to use the program. There’s one big difference, though: the app name and appearance has changed.
Although not all details about the program are clear right now, it’s evident the Mobile Passport app has been replaced by the CBP MPC app.
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 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.
Long acronym short, this is still Mobile Passport, but now operated directly by CBP instead of Airside. The change went into effect February 1, 2022.
If you’re not familiar 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.
According to the CBP, the new app will work the same as the previous version. 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,” according to the 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 says my information (and that of my husband and son, whom I also added to my app) has been stored for future use.
Now we just need to see if the program continues, expands or is phased out.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.
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