We’ve loved using Mobile Passport Control with kids and it’s eased some of the stresses of traveling internationally as a family. Surprisingly, many people still don’t take advantage of Mobile Passport Control (or even know about it) – so here are all the details you need to know about using it!
What is Mobile Passport Control?
Mobile Passport Control (MPC) is a an application through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows streamlined entry into the United States through certain points of entry. It’s available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian B1/B2 citizen visitors and returning Visa Waiver Program travelers with approved ESTA at 48 sites, including 33 U.S. International Airports and 4 seaports of entry. It’s also available at 11 Preclearance locations, where travelers can go through passport control prior to boarding a US-bound flight.
How is Mobile Passport Different from Global Entry?
There are a few differences between MPC & Global Entry. The first, and possibly most important, difference is that Mobile Passport is completely FREE! While Global Entry has a fee of $100 (good for 5 years) per passenger (including children), MPC has no additional charge and is an free app that travelers can download. Mobile Passport also does not require preapproval and an interview/background check process, which can often take months to go through.
Why Get Global Entry Instead of Mobile Passport? MPC vs Global Entry
Global Entry does have a few benefits that make it worthwhile for certain travelers. First, it applies to citizens of some other countries beyond the US/Canada, and does not require an app to use – it’s just included on your ticket (assuming you included your Known Traveler Info when booking).
The other big perk of Global Entry is that it also gives access to TSA PreCheck to go through expedited TSA security lanes (and TSA PreCheck allows parents to take children under 18 with them for free). At the time of writing, 5 years of TSA PreCheck costs $78, whereas it’s included with the $100 Global Entry Fee.
TSA PreCheck (unlike Global Entry) DOES allow you to bring minor children with you for free, so it’s very much worth it for us, especially since we travel fairly frequently. Since it’s only $22 cheaper than Global Entry, it’s worth it for us to get Global Entry for the adults in our family so we have TSA PreCheck available to us, and so we can use Global Entry independently if not traveling with children. Our favorite travel credit card also covers the Global Entry fee, which I highly recommend doing.
How To Use Mobile Passport
Fortunately, the process of using Mobile Passport, even with children, is pretty straightforward. After downloading the app, you must create a profile with passport information. When you arrive at the port of entry, you can submit your information for yourself and any others in your household. (You MUST also bring your passport.) Up to 12 profiles can be created for family members, so it’s easy for a family group to go through together. A single household only needs to submit one MPC transaction.
Upon submitting, you can go through the Mobile Passport line to submit your info to a CBP officer – it’s usually MUCH more efficient than waiting in the regular line! You also don’t need to fill out a customs declaration form, as you’ll input that info in the MPC app.
When To Use Mobile Passport
Eligible travelers can use Mobile Passport Control at any airport when it’s allowed. We much prefer using it for our family because it is significantly less expensive than Global Entry. With 6 kids, we’d have to pay $800 for our entire family for Global Entry, while MPC is FREE.
The biggest thing to keep in mind with Mobile Passport Control is that it isn’t available at every airport or entry point. Be sure to check this list to see if your point of entry has it available!
In our experience, the Mobile Passport Control line has been just as fast (and sometimes faster) than the Global Entry line at our home airports of San Francisco International and Dulles International. It’s been so helpful for us!