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There’s a new way to skip long passport checkpoint lines that’s totally free and doesn’t require advance planning. It’s called Mobile Passport Control, and it’s a lot more than just Global Entry ‘light’ without the $100 fee.
Here’s how it stacks up.
Mobile Passport Control is a free app approved by US Customs and Border Protection that gives you access to priority passport and customs control lanes at nearly 15 participating airports in the U.S, so you can skip the long lines every time and stop fumbling for a pen to fill out forms.
It’s completely free and unlike Global Entry, there is no interview process or pre-registration required. You can even use it if you’ve just landed in the U.S.
Just download it and get started – there’s no planning needed, so it’s great for procrastinators.
Mobile Passport Control is now available in the following airports, which cover some of the busiest international arrivals points in the country:
It’s going to expand to more airports later in the year, so keep an eye out to see if it is coming to your airport. Washington-Dulles, Tampa, and Raleigh are next in line. Boston, Los Angeles and Houston are probably the most glaring exceptions at this point.
Global Entry is a US Customs and Border Protection program lets you use priority immigration and customs lanes if you’ve been pre-screened as a low-risk traveler. If you are approved for Global Entry, you’ll also have access to TSA Pre-Check security lanes, even when you’re not on an international trip. It costs $100 to apply, but once approved it’s valid for 5 years.
Then, you can use special Global Entry automated kiosks at participating airports, which give you priority over passengers without Global Entry, and you get to use dedicated lanes for customs inspection that let you skip the wait.
Getting Global Entry isn’t a simple exercise. You’re stuck with a long application form, setting up an interview appointment (with waits in the weeks or months), and paying a fee.
The application will ask questions such as your personal information, citizenship and driver’s license information, address and employment history for the past five years, travel history for the past five years, and questions regarding any past criminal offenses.
If your initial application is approved, you will be invited to go for an interview where they will go over your application, take your photograph, and fingerprint you. The interview can take a while to schedule with some airports not having available appointments on the order of months. Your interview appointment itself will only last about 15 minutes.
Global Entry kiosks are set up at nearly all U.S. arrival points (there’s a full list here).
There’s no downside to trying Mobile Passport Control. It’s free and doesn’t require any advance registration.
But if you travel frequently and want TSA Pre Check access, bundling Global Entry (or its sister for faster Canadian access, NEXUS) is a decent deal.
Global Entry costs just $15 more than standalone TSA Pre Check, but gives you the option of expedited international arrivals. And it lets you take advantage of current and future reciprocal expedited arrival programs for trusted travelers in other countries.
Global Entry does have a $100 application fee that is not refunded if your application is not approved. There are a few credit cards that waive this fee as a card benefit. They include:
Authorized users on The Platinum Card from American Express also receive the fee waiver, but authorized users on the Citi Prestige do not. All cards will waive the Global Entry application fee once every five years, which is how long Global Entry is valid if you are approved.
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