Mobile Passport, a free app for Apple and Android phones launched in 2014, is changing the way travelers interact with airports and U.S. Customs. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Airports Council International, a trade group, teamed up to make the Mobile Passport app with Airside Mobile, whose founders helped introduce the first mobile boarding passes in the U.S.” The app holds personal passport information of the user (along with any other family members they wish to add), in a secure, password protected location. This data is encrypted and is never stored on a private or commercial server, making it a secure app (as long as users are wary of their phones). Although it is still necessary to bring your physical passport along for the journey, Mobile Passport has the potential to make traveling through airports easier, faster, and more convenient.
There are four steps to using Mobile Passport. First, users upload basic information such as passport details, a picture, and the details of any other family members to their account. Second, users download an “abbreviated version of the standard white-and-blue U.S. Customs form” to be completed before landing, eliminating the need for the paper form. Third, after submitting the digital customs form, users receive a digital QR code that will be scanned in a special express lane at passport control. After presenting the agent with a physical passport and waving the app over a scanner, users will head to baggage claim to pick up their belongings before scanning their phone one more time.
Mobile Passport is currently available in 13 major airports, with more to come by the end of 2016. It has been used over 380,000 times, and this number will be likely to grow in the coming years. As more travelers begin using the app, it will speed up airport lines and has the potential to make travel significantly easier and less time consuming, so even if you don’t have a trip coming up anytime soon, it’s worth exploring this option for the future.
Read more here- “Get Through Airport Customs Faster With This Free App” (Geoffrey Fowler, WSJ)