Mobile Passport App Guide 2020 – Tutorial, Cost, Airports & Tips
If you find yourself dreading long customs lines when returning to the United States, the Mobile Passport app may be right for you. Unlike Global Entry, which is another popular service to get you through customs quicker, the Mobile Passport app does not require a background check, interview, or approval. While there is a premium version for $14.99 per year, you can get the free version which still allows access to the special lines for Mobile Passport users.
Here is what you need to know about the Mobile Passport app.
What is Mobile Passport?
Established in 2014 by Airside Mobile, Inc, Mobile Passport is an app authorized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows potentially expedited entry through customs upon arrival to the United States via Mobile Passport Control (MPC). Available for iOS and Android mobile devices, only U.S. Citizens and Canadian passport holders are currently eligible to use the service.
Upon returning to the United States via airplane or cruise ship, users submit their passport information and declarations directly through the app. This eliminates the need to fill out a paper declarations form, which can be a hassle if you do not have a pen on you during the flight. After submitting your information electronically to Customs and Border Protection, you will receive a digital receipt that is valid for four hours. Head over to a special line for Mobile Passport users and show the Customs and Border Protection officer your receipt and a physical copy of your passport.
How Much Does Mobile Passport Cost?
The basic version of the Mobile Passport app is free to use. This allows access to the special Mobile Passport Control line as well as the ability to submit your passport information and declarations electronically. It does not allow you to scan documents or save your passport data (it expires four hours after submitting), so you will have to manually enter it every single time you use the app before going through customs. The free version also allows you to manage and submit your family or group’s passports from your device. This version includes ads.
The premium version, Mobile Passport plus, is available for $14.99 per year (or $4.99/month). For the yearly or monthly fee, you get a document scanner and the ability to save your passport information as well as your family’s. If you are a frequent traveler, these are extremely helpful features. If your traveling party is big and it is up to you to manually enter everyone’s passport information, it is also helpful so you are not wasting time upon arrival. This version does not include ads. A 7-day free trial is also available for the premium version when paying the $14.99 for the year.
Mobile Passport App Features at a Glance
|Free Version||Paid Version|
|Free||$14.99 per year or $4.99 per month|
|Submit Declarations Electronically||Submit Declarations Electronically|
|Submit Passport Electronically||Submit Passport Electronically|
|Manage Group’s Passports||Manage Group’s Passports|
|No Document Scanner||Document Scanner|
|Cannot Save Passport Data||Can Save Passport Data|
|Cannot Save Customs Declarations||Can Save Customs Declarations|
|Includes Ads||Does Not Have Ads|
How Do I Download Mobile Passport?
Apple iPhone or iPad users (iOS) can download the app at the App Store
Android users can download the app at Google Play
CLEAR now has its own Mobile Passport app. Like the original, CLEAR’s version is free to use. Unlike the original, the CLEAR app will store your information for free, so it is worth checking out. It is not yet available for Android users.
iOS users can download CLEAR Pass at the App Store.
The Vacationer Tip
Consider CLEAR’s new Mobile Passport app if you want to save your passport and profile for free.
Who is Eligible for Mobile Passport Control?
As of May 2020, only U.S. Citizens with a valid passport and Canadian visitors with a valid passport and either B1 or B2 visa status are eligible to use Mobile Passport Control lines. Additionally, you can set up profiles for family members within the app, so your entire party can take advantage if they meet the above requirements.
This service is currently not available for U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, but we will update this post if that changes. As previously mentioned, the Mobile Passport app does not require a background check, interview, or approval to use.
How Do I Use Mobile Passport?
To use either version, you will need to connect to Wi-Fi or use your phone or tablet’s cellular data after landing. Cellular service may be spotty at some airports, so you should be familiar with Wi-Fi credentials beforehand.
Download and Set Up the App
Step 1. Download the App
Using the App Store or Google Play Store, download the latest version of the Mobile Passport app. After downloading, you can use the free version or upgrade to the plus version. Remember, both versions allow you to submit your passport information and customs declarations electronically as well as use the special Mobile Passport line. Only the plus version comes with a passport scanner and the ability to save your passport information securely in the app.
Step 2. Plus Users Should Set Up and Save Their Passport Information in Advance
If you upgrade to the plus version, it makes sense to enter or scan your passport information and save it to the app. If you are entering it manually, make sure you enter the information exactly how it appears on your passport. You need to enter your passport number, surname, given names, date of birth, sex, country of citizenship, date of passport expiration, and issuing authority. You will also need to take a clear forward-facing photo of yourself.
If you use the basic version, you can still load the app and practice entering your information. While the app will let you click save, your passport information will only be stored for four hours. That means you will have to repeat the process every single time you return to the United States.
Load the App After Arriving Back to the U.S.
Step 3. Ensure The United States Airport or Cruise Port You Are Returning to Participates in Mobile Passport
As of May 2020, there are 27 United States airports and four cruise ports participating in the Mobile Passport program. For a full list, see the section below.
Step 4. Skip The Paper Declarations Form
One of the best parts about Mobile Passport is you no longer have to fill out the paper customs declarations form in the middle of your flight back to the United States. If you do fill it out (just in case Mobile Passport is not working for some reason), you can simply discard it after leaving the airport.
Step 5. Connect to Wi-Fi or Turn Your Cellular Data On After Landing
You will need to connect to Wi-Fi or use your cellular data to access the Mobile Passport app. After successfully connecting to Wi-Fi or verifying your cellular data is working, you should load the app. Select Airplane or Cruise Ship to begin the process.
Plus users should already have their profile ready with saved passport information. Travelers using the free version should enter their passport information.
Step 6. Enter Travel Information and Answer a Few CBP Questions
After entering or loading your saved passport information, you will have to enter travel information. Those arriving by air will have to enter their port of entry and airline. Those arriving by cruise ship will have to enter their port of entry, cruise line, and terminal.
After entering your travel information, you will then click the Proceed to CBP Authorized Questions button where you will answer five questions to complete the customs declaration form.
Step 7. Submit the Form Electronically to the CBP
Make sure all of your information is correct before submitting the form electronically to the Customs and Border Protection. After submitting the form, you will receive a digital receipt that is valid for four hours.
If you will be submitting a Mobile Passport for anyone else in your group, now is the time to do that. Simply follow the steps above to submit the remainder of your group’s passports from your device.
Step 8. Go to the Special Mobile Passport Line
After submitting your passport and everyone else’s in your group, you will now go to the special Mobile Passport line. Generally, this line is shorter than the traditional line. In addition to showing the CBP officer your Mobile Passport receipt, you will also need to show a physical copy of your passport. After scanning your receipt and answering a few questions, you should be on your way.
What Airports and Cruise Ports Accept Mobile Passport?
There are currently 27 airports and 4 cruise ports participating in Mobile Passport. We will update the list as new locations are added.
- Baltimore – Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
- Boston – Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Chicago – Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Denver – Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Fort Lauderdale – Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Houston – George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- Houston – William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
- Los Angeles – Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Miami – Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Minneapolis – Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
- New York City – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Newark – Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Orlando – Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Philadelphia – Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
- Phoenix – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
- Portland – Portland International Airport (PDX)
- Raleigh – Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU)
- Sacramento – Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
- San Diego – San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- San Fransisco – San Fransisco International Airport (SFO)
- San Jose – Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- San Juan – Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
- Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Tampa – Tampa International Airport (TPA)
- Washington Dulles – Dulles International Airpot (IAD)
- Fort Lauderdale – Port Everglades Cruise Port (PEV)
- Miami – Miami Seaport Cruise Port (MSE)
- San Juan – Port of San Juan Cruise Port (PUE)
- West Palm Beach – Port of Palm Beach Cruise Port (WPB)
Mobile Passport or Global Entry
The Mobile Passport app is meant to be an alternative to Global Entry as opposed to a replacement. Both generally offer expedited service through customs, but only Global Entry requires approval. We recommend having both as the lines for each may vary by airport and time. After deplaning, simply see which line is shorter and choose that service.
The Vacationer Tip
Even if you are already a Global Entry member, you can download the Mobile Passport app and pick the shorter line.
If you have Global Entry and your travel group does not, you should take advantage of Mobile Passport. This will allow the rest of your group to expedite their way through customs without having to sign up for Global Entry. As a Global Entry member, you are free to use Mobile Passport, but you have to pick one or the other. Everyone in your group should individually download the app or you can enter everyone’s information in your app.
One of the best features of Global Entry is TSA PreCheck, and the Mobile Passport app does not include it. If PreCheck is important to you, we recommend either signing up for it directly or applying for Global Entry.
Mobile Passport Control is the actual process of using apps to expedite entry through customs upon arrival to the United States.
Yes, you must still carry your physical passport and present it to the CBP officer before leaving the airport.
No, unless you want features such as a document scanner and the ability to save your passport information.
You cannot use both services at the same time. You should pick one or the other after landing and seeing the line for each.
CLEAR Pass is a new Mobile Passport app established in 2020. It does everything the original app does, but it allows free users to store their information without an additional fee.
No. Mobile Passport will only expedite entry through customs when returning to the United States. It does not include PreCheck nor will it allow you to go through security faster before flying.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
The Mobile Passport app is a smart decision for anyone returning to the United States by land or sea. You are almost guaranteed to get through customs faster, and it is free to use. While it is still new and only for iPhone users, download the CLEAR Pass app instead so you can save your passport information for free.
Featured Image by cytis via Pixabay
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