Beginning in August, U.S. citizens (as well as Canadian visitors) entering through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are the first to try Mobile Passport Control (MPC) – the first mobile app authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to securely submit passport information and declaration forms. The app bypasses the traditional paper forms, as well as the newly introduced Automated Passport Control kiosks, providing a quick and secure way to transfer information and, more importantly, cut down on time in line.
The process is pretty easy — just download the MPC app from the Apple App store before your flight. (Android users take heart; your version is coming this fall.) The app will prompt you to create a secure profile with your passport information. There’s no pre-approval required, and no new information is collected.
Once you land in the U.S. and gain access to either Wi-Fi or your data network, just complete the “New Trip” section, which will allow you to submit your customs declaration form. Once it’s sent off, you’ll receive an electronic receipt along with an Encrypted QR code that’s valid for four hours.
Finally, bring your passport and your phone or tablet to the CBP officer. The QR code is scanned, instantly retrieving your information for inspection. So, rather than completing the process at customs, you can take care of everything while you’re on the tarmac and still in your seat.
Obviously, your passport won’t be replaced anytime soon. Rather, this is a quick, paperless way to fill out your declaration form and get processed through customs quickly. Also, your passport information and declaration answers are submitted directly to CBP via secure encryption protocols. You have the choice of keeping your profile or deleting it after your trip, so your information doesn’t need to stick around if you so choose.
This new approach comes on the heels of CBP’s rollout of Automated Passport Control kiosks last year. According to CBP, the kiosks have already cut wait times by as much as 25-40 percent. With a planned rollout of MPC beyond Atlanta in the coming months, expect those wait times to evaporate further.