New US Customs app eliminates a form, speeds up air border entry

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This form can be a thing of the past in a few U.S. airports.

If you’ve ever traveled abroad and had to fill out one of those paper slips with information about your trip just to go through Customs, you know it can be aggravating to find a pen, hold on to another piece of paper, and write legibly – all while juggling landing, luggage, and maybe even children.

A new mobile app for iPhone released does away with the paper slips – and allows you to answer the “are you traveling with $10,000 in cash”-type questions on your phone ahead of time, and presenting it to the officer when you’re going through Customs, potentially reducing the time it takes to get through the process, and just making it easier overall.

Per CBP,

“MPC currently offers U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors a more efficient and secure in-person inspection between the CBP officer and the traveler upon arrival in the United States. Much like Automated Passport Control, the app does not require pre-approval, is free-to-use and does not collect any new information on travelers. As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing.”

From the looks of it, the process seems pretty easy – and you even get (have?) to take a selfie in the process. CBP provided some screen shots of the app:

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Of course, if you have Global Entry ($100 and totally worth it), none of this is even needed — because Global Entry allows you to zoom through Customs by using a kiosk and answering the questions right then and there. Because you’re already pre-screened and given a background check, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t have to actually talk to a human being — something it looks like you still have to do with Mobile Pass. Don’t forget that Global Entry makes you eligible for TSA PreCheck when flying domestically too.

I didn’t notice the app until recently, and apparently the CBP press release was written about it back in August. Unfortunately, it’s only available in certain airports – Atlanta (ATL), Miami (MIA), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Seattle (SEA – SeaTac) – but it sure beats having to fill out that darned paper while landing or waiting in line.

And perhaps if you’re like me and have horrible handwriting, it’s definitely worth its weight in megabytes.

Have you used Customs and Border Protection’s free app yet?

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As posted earlier, PreCheck is worth its weight in gold, and by signing up for U.S. Customs’ partner program called Global Entry, you can use PreCheck – which has seriously saved me hours waiting in line at airports around the country.

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Now here’s the thing: while the Economy Plus seats are very worthwhile in terms of comfort, it’s important to do some calculations to see if $500+ a year is worth it.

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