How to skip US immigration queues without Global Entry

How to skip US immigration queues without Global Entry

Some US airports have long queues for immigration with queues of several hours not unheard of in certain airports at peak times. While I have written about the benefits of Global Entry before, not everyone wants to spend the time and money getting it if they only visit the US occasionally. However, there is another way that many travellers can skip the queues. 

Mobile Passport Control (MPC) is an app that 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. It’s available on Apple App store and Google Play. You can find the app (as well as the Global Entry App) on this official page.

The use of MPC streamlines the traveler’s entry process into the United States by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time. The good news is that you don’t have to be pre-approved to use MPC, you just need to download the app.  Travellers who successfully use the MPC app will no longer have to complete a paper form and may be provided a designated queue which means you skip the main immigration line. Even if you don’t, it should take less time to process. 

Who can use MPC?

Los Angeles, USA – British Airways Boeing 777-300 at Los Angeles airport (LAX)

The MPC mobile app, is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian B1/B2 citizen visitors and anyone who holds an ESTA who is returning. I read it as on the same ESTA as that is what usually applies to the returning ESTA queue. So, each time you renew, you will have to enter it once before you can use the app again. An ESTA is valid for two years. However, I’m happy to be corrected if someone knows otherwise!


Which airports/seaports can you use MPC at?

Bermuda Airport

MPC is currently available at the following 51 sites, including 33 U.S. International Airports, 14 Preclearance locations, and 4 seaports of entry:

  • Abu Dhabi Zayed International Airport (AUH) 
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)
  • Aruba Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)
  • Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA)
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Dublin Airport (DUB)
  • Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
  • Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Houston William P. Hobby International Airport (HOU)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
  • Las Vegas Harry Ried International Airport (LAS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Miami Seaport
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Ottawa International Airport (YOW)
  • Palm Beach Seaport
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Port Everglades Seaport
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  • San Juan Airport (SJU)
  • San Juan Seaport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Shannon Airport (SNN)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  • Winnipeg James A Richardson International Airport (YWG)


How to use MPC

  1. Down the MPC Application from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store
  2. Create a profile with your passport
  3. If you are using a Pre-clearance facility such as Shannon you must select their mode of entry in the application as “Preclearance” before selecting their departing Preclearance Port of Entry.
  4. If you are not using preclearance, once you have landed in the United States, you should select “U.S. airport” as your mode of entry and then select your arrival airport or seaport and terminal.
  5. Tr take a self-photo and answer the Customs inspection-related questions.
  6. Submit your transaction through the app.
  7. You do not need to complete any paper forms.
  8. You then bring your physical passports to a CBP officer.

It is worth knowing that you need a mobile phone service or Wi-Fi connectivity to submit your information, but you can complete your profile(s) without being connected to the internet. The majority of airports have free wi-fi now, so I’d suggest, if you don’t have data roaming, getting your application ready on the plane and then connecting to the wi-fi as you enter the terminal to submit it.

I have used the Global Entry App, which works in the same way by pre-submitting your information, and the transfer of info is instantaneous. It was only a short walk to the immigration queue from when I submitted it, but the officer had my information on his screen already. I have also heard examples of people using MPC very successfully with separate queues and cutting down waiting time. 

Have you used MPC? Let us know your experience in the comments below.


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