Whether you’re waiting for Global Entry approval or don’t want to pay $100 (or more) for an application fee, don’t worry: There’s still a convenient way to avoid the longest lines at US Customs and Border Protection.

CBP offers a service called Mobile Passport Control. It has been around for almost a decade but is a relatively unknown option for tourists.

Best of all, it’s fast, free and doesn’t require a lengthy screening process or interview.

To use the service all you have to do is download an app, fill in some personal information, take a selfie and then proceed to a designated (usually very short) line once you reach passport control.

Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy

Mobile Passport Control is a great option if you’re waiting for Global Entry approval or if you don’t travel enough internationally to warrant the program’s $100 (soon to be $120) application fee. It is also available to many tourists – many of whom do not know about it.

Count TPG contributor Melissa Klurman among the fans (and loyal users) of this entry speed program, which regularly helps her save time in customs.

Here’s what you need to know about Mobile Passport Control:

What is the difference between Global Entry and Mobile Passport Control?

Generally speaking, mobile passport control isn’t as fast as Global Entry — but it’s faster than regular lanes at customs. And, unlike global access, it’s free.

Global access

Global Entry is a paid program that allows travelers to expedite their journey through a US Customs and Border Protection port of entry. Members submit an application and pay a fee, then undergo a screening interview. Once approved, they can proceed to the blue kiosk at Customs for identity verification. The process often takes only seconds.

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Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy

Global Entry members also receive a Known Traveler Number that grants them access to TSA PreCheck lanes.

Applying for a five-year Global Entry membership comes with a $100 application fee — though numerous travel credit cards will help offset the cost. The application fee for Global Entry will increase to $120 in October 2024.

Mobile passport control

Mobile Passport Control, on the other hand, is free and available to a wide range of travelers. After an international flight, you fill in your personal information and take a selfie on the app. By submitting this information in advance, you’ll be able to use a special, designated lane at customs once you get off the plane.

Although users won’t fly through customs as quickly as Global Entry members, it’s still a surefire way to save time — especially when standard passport control lines are congested.

Who can use Mobile Passport Control?

Mobile Passport Control is available for travelers entering the US, According to CBP. This includes:

  • US citizens
  • Legal permanent residents
  • Canadian B1/B2 visa holders
  • Passengers of 41″Visa waiver” Countries that have previously visited the US

Which airports have mobile passport control?

The service is available at 51 sites, and you can use the service at all 33 international airports in the US. 15 international preclearance facilitiesSuch as Abu Dhabi’s Zayed International Airport (AUH), Dublin Airport (DUB) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).

You’ll also find service available as an option at four ports: Miami, Palm Beach, Port Everglades and San Juan.

How to use Mobile Passport Control

The first step to using Mobile Passport Control is to download the CBP MPC app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Do this when you have Wi-Fi.

First, the application will ask you how you are entering the U.S. In most cases, it will be by plane.


Next: What is your CBP port? That will be your arrival airport. Suppose you are flying into Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).


From there, you’ll add travelers to your submission. The app now allows you to add up to 12 family members who are returning to the same family. Your best bet is to fill out your information and add each member of your family to your submission. You can do it all on one phone.


Next, you will need to upload your travel documents; Often, for US citizens, this will be a passport. You can scan it or enter the information manually.


After filling in the information, you’ll add a selfie and repeat the process for each member of your family.

Once your application is submitted and you get off the plane, go to the designated MPC lane at CBP facilities. When you approach the officer, a family member must step forward to take their photo. CBP uses this photo to pull and process an application for facial comparison purposes for each member of your travel party.

The agency says it typically deletes photos taken at its passport control facilities within two days. Photos taken on your smartphone will remain locally on your device, the agency adds; They are not stored on CBP servers.

Is mobile passport control better than global entry?

Global Entry is usually a faster option than mobile passport control. However, its soon-to-be $120 fee is not unreasonable, especially if you consider the fact that Mobile Passport Control is completely free.

Also, if you don’t travel enough to warrant Global Entry, don’t qualify for the program, or are still awaiting conditional approval for the program, Mobile Passport Control is a great option to expedite your re-entry into the US.

It’s also a great way to save time for families traveling together, as you can now add up to a dozen family members in one app.

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