Traveling internationally can be an amazing experience. You get to experience new cultures and create great memories during your family vacations. But, at the end of the trip, the long lines when re-entering the United States is no fun after a long flight. Luckily, there are two programs that can help you cut the lines and breeze through customs and immigration: Mobile Passport Control and Global Entry.
Mobile Passport Control ( MPC)
Mobile Passport Control is a free mobile application that allows U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors to complete their customs declaration using their smartphone or tablet instead of a paper declaration form.
The app is available for download on both the App Store and Google Play.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to follow a few steps to set up your account. You’ll need to provide your passport information, answer a few questions about your trip, and take a selfie. Once you’ve done all of that, you’ll be given a digital receipt that you can use to access the expedited entry lane.
When you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to follow signs for “Mobile Passport Control” and show your digital receipt and passport to a Customs and Border Protection officer. It’s that easy! The downside is that it’s only available at participating airports. Check the list here: MPC airport.
One of the best things about Mobile Passport Control is that it’s completely free. It’s available NOW and the app is incredibly easy to use.
If you’re a frequent traveler or if you want to enjoy even more benefits when re-entering the United States, you might want to consider applying for Global Entry.
Global Entry is a U.S. government program that offers expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers arriving in the United States.
To apply, go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website (https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry) and fill out an online application complete with a $100 application fee. After completion, you will wait for Conditional Approval, and then attend an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. The interview is your chance to provide fingerprints and additional information to confirm your identity. Once approved, you’ll get a Global Entry card that is good for 5 years.
Global Entry provides you with the expedited entry lane and also includes TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck allows you to skip the normal security lines at many U.S. airports. With TSA PreCheck, you can leave on your shoes, belts, and light jackets, and you don’t have to remove your laptops or liquids from your bags.
The process to obtain Global Entry can take a few months, depending on whether you can find an appointment at the local center. You can also apply first and then once conditionally approved, you can get an interview on arrival at a participating airport. https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/enrollment-arrival.
If you live in the Southern California area, you can go to my partner agency’s Los Angeles office. We hold appointments frequently. Ask me about it.
Consider these two options to make your entry into the US more manageable after international travel.