Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced the expansion of the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app—the first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s arrival into the US—to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. The MPC app was first launched in August 2014 for eligible travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and was soon available to passengers arriving at Miami International Airport. At this time, eligible travelers for the app include US citizens with a valid US passport and Canadian citizens with both a valid Canadian passport and B-1 or B-2 visa status.
To use the MPC app, eligible travelers must have iOS or Android devices that can connect to the internet and should follow these steps:
Create a profile using valid passport information. Profiles can be set up for the entire family. Note that all information will be encrypted and shared only with CBP;
Complete the “New Trip” section upon arrival in the US;
After submitting the customs declaration form through the app, users receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code. By submitting, travelers are confirming under penalty of law that their information is correct. The digital bar-coded receipt is valid for four hours;
Bring passport and smartphone or tablet with the digital bar-coded receipt to a CBP officer in the Mobile Passport Control line;
We haven't yet been able to field test the app, but reviews range from "app is very good and easy to use" and "we breezed past the line at Immigration and Customs" to more critical user comments including "Waste of time, inconsistent reliability. The set up was easy, the idea is good in theory. However, it needs to work consistently."
Along with the paperless I-94, the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks, and Global Entry (which we love), the MPC app is part of CBP's overall "resource optimization strategy which is transforming the way CBP does business in land, air and sea environments." CBP is planning to expand the MPC app to more airports later this spring (Chicago O'Hare International Airport is reportedly up next) and is committed to expanding the program to the twenty airports with the highest volumes of international travelers by the end of 2016. The future of a paperless and electronic CBP is here. And it's on smartphones.