If you get my travel tips via my newsletter, then you know how much I dislike waiting in long lines. Who doesn’t? Since I travel so much with my family, we (me, my wife and our two kids) are members of all the pre-screened expedited programs: Global Entry, NEXUS, TSA PreCheck and Clear. RELATED: The trick to getting TSA PreCheck fast and 4 other tips you need to know

Mobile Passport ControlHowever, Global Entry isn’t free and sometimes there’s a lengthy approval process. So if you rarely travel internationally (especially if you’re traveling as a family), it’s not worth paying for or taking the time to apply. However, some premium credit cards do pay for the application fee.

The next best thing to Global Entry is the CBP Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app and it’s free.

Mobile Passport Control allows eligible travelers to submit their travel document, photo, and customs declaration information through a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile device. Per the CBP’s website: “The use of MPC streamlines the traveler’s entry process into the United States by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time.”

Here’s how MPC Works:

This is straight from the CBP’s website: “After downloading the MPC Application from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, eligible travelers will be prompted to create a profile with their passport or LPR [Lawful Permanent Resident] card information.” They’re both highly rated apps. In the Apple app store, it has 4.9 rating with over 214.5K reviews. In the Google Play store, it has 4.8 rating with over 45.7K reviews.

Preclearance travelers

I find the MPC’s definition a little bit confusing because they say: “Upon arrival at eligible Preclearance locations users must select their mode of entry in the application as “Preclearance” before selecting their departing Preclearance Port of Entry.”

I don’t think many Americans realize that the United States government has set up customs pre-clearance for travelers heading to the U.S. in 15 locations: Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; Aruba; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; Nassau in the Bahamas; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg in Canada.

Arriving on U.S. soil

MPC then states: “If a traveler is not using preclearance, upon landing in the United States, travelers will select “U.S. airport” as their mode of entry and then select their arrival airport or seaport and terminal. Travelers will then take a self-photo and answer a series of CBP inspection-related questions. Once the traveler submits their transaction through the app, travelers will then bring their physical passport to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the United States.”

Note: Cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity is required to send information, but travelers may complete profile(s) without being connected to the internet.

Who is eligible?

The MPC mobile app is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian B1/B2 citizen visitors and returning Visa Waiver Program travelers with approved ESTA. MPC is currently available at 33 U.S. International Airports, 13 Preclearance locations, and 4 seaports of entry.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. Below are the 41 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Since I have Global Entry (GE), I’ve never used it but I have downloaded it since my friends and colleagues have used it and love it. Including my friend and travel journalist, Ramsey Qubein who emailed me: “MPC is one of the great travel hacks. It is free to join, and in the airports that support it, you are often through faster than people with Global Entry. The cost and sign up for Global Entry can take an hour or two, especially with the appointment, which negates the time you would save in the airport. MPC is free and no appointment necessary.”

I’ve also seen some good reviews on Facebook:

Chelsea Daniels on April 18, 2024 posted to Facebook: “Mobile Passport helped me get through O’Hare customs in 5 minutes which is highly uncommon.”

Travel writer Fred Sherman posted on the SATW Facebook page in 2022: “I just returned from my first international trip taken after I stupidly let my Global Entry expire and lapse. While waiting for GE renewal, I used the US CBP Mobile Passport Control app at LAX on Friday. It took two minutes to download the app and list myself as a traveler and then produce the CBP receipt. On arrival, although the entry hall was packed, I was the ONLY ONE in the MPC line and walked right up to the officer, and then out to baggage claim.”

Jorge Vega on April 11, 2024 on Facebook: I used it in Toronto and it was better than global entry. My flight was from Rome to Toronto and then to Phoenix with Air Canada.

Karen Kallet, April 8, 2024: Good to know: Mobile Passport Control app.  If you are American or Canadian and do not have US Global Entry back to the US. This is the app that allows you to by pass the long immigration lines. I used it coming back from Vancouver. Worked like a charm. Even had a big sign with MPC at immigration to US. Own line, no one waiting.  Once I arrived at the airport, I submitted the pre done info and got a QRCode. Showed my QR code and passport and it was very simple.  Works for cruise ships, airports and preclearance.  Which is what I used as I pre cleared in Vancouver for the flight to the states.”

I have some friends who are Global Entry members but use Mobile Passport Control when the Global Entry lines are long. That’s why I’ve downloaded the app, just to be ready.

Here’s a video showing you exactly how to use the Mobile Passport Control app:

@mealsandmiles01 How to use Mobile Passport Control #traveltip #travelhack #travelinformation #mpc #passport #mobilepassportcontrol #globalentry #howto #howtotiktok #fy #fypシ ♬ original sound – Monique l Food & Travel

Have you used MPC before? What’s it like and have you ever used MPC over Global Entry?


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1 Comment On "Don't want to pay for Global Entry? The Mobile Passport Control app is fast, free and easy to use"
  1. Deborah|

    Yes! Even in Halifax, a small airport where you would think there would be no lines, this app saved us. A free pass to the front of the line, saving about 30 minutes.

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