With Global Entry crackdown, it’s now more important than ever to have Mobile Passport

Feb 6, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the cost of the premium version of the app.

One of my favorite tips for travelers is to download the Mobile Passport Control app (MPC), also called simply Mobile Passport, which can literally save you hours at U.S. Customs stations at many U.S. airports. The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, wrote about it as far back as 2016.

Today it’s more important than ever after news of a major crackdown on the Global Entry program by the Trump administration.

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As we reported, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf made a surprise announcement on Fox Wednesday night that his agency was immediately banning New York residents from enrolling in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler programs. That’s true even if you’re a state resident who previously had Global Entry and its expiring or expired; you won’t be able to renew it.

Why? The Trump administration says it’s because of New York’s newly enacted law forbidding state agencies from handing over immigration data to the federal government.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection so far has not implemented restrictions for its little-known Mobile Passport Control app. Even if you don’t have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you can download the MPC app and speed through Customs. This may be the only solution for New Yorkers for the immediate future.

RelatedTop credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

MPC lines are often even shorter than Global Entry lines, and now that may be even more true. Mobile Passport allows U.S. citizens and Canadians to enter their arrival information into the application. It’s available at 27 U.S. international airports and is totally free, though a fancier version that remembers your passport and other details is $14.99 a year.

I was lucky that my Global Entry membership was set to expire this year, and I had just applied for renewal last week. Yesterday I received an approved notice, which means my membership isn’t set to expire until 2025. I’ll test it out on my next trip and report back.

Here’s how Mobile Passport works.

Start by downloading the Mobile Passport app from Apple App Store or from Google Play. You then create a four-digit pin, enter your passport and flight information and answer customs questions.

Once you are at your port of entry, you hit the submit code, and it generates a QR code. You have to do this four hours or less before you approach the customs agent.

Related: Why Mobile Passport can be an even better option than Global Entry

There is generally a separate line for MPC customers. You simply show that QR code to the agent along with your passport and you’re waved through. It’s often taken me less than 10 minutes to get through customs.

Mobile Passport screenshot.
Mobile Passport screenshot.

This may be a great workaround for New Yorkers (and anyone else who may eventually be impacted).

We’ll have a full Q&A on the impact of the new rules later in the day on Feb. 6.

Emily McNutt did a really good step-by-step guide for Mobile Passport, so be sure to check that out. And Zach Honig wrote a great piece about why you should — or shouldn’t — sign up for the fancier version of Mobile Passport.

Mobile Passport customs questions.
Mobile Passport customs questions.

 

Featured photo courtesy of Mobile Passport.

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