Anyone who has stood in a painfully slow line has surely wished there was a better way. This is especially true at many airports across Canada, where passengers must wait in endless lines to enter the United States.
While getting a NEXUS card is always a safe bet, US Customs and Border Protection has recently introduced Mobile Passport Control to some Canadian pre-clearance locations. Using this app is entirely optional, but it may be a free way to speed up your entry into the US.
Let’s take a look at Mobile Passport Control and why you might want to consider using it on your next trip to the United States.
In This Post
- What Is Mobile Passport Control?
- Where Can You Use Mobile Passport Control?
- How to Use Mobile Passport Control
What Is Mobile Passport Control?
Mobile Passport Control is a free app from United States Customs and Border Protection. The app lets users upload information in advance, which ultimately speeds up their processing time when crossing into the United States.
Currently, using Mobile Passport Control in Canada is only possible at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). The technology is slated to roll out at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at the end of September.
Using the application, travellers can upload their passport information, answer a few questions about their trip, and take a selfie.
Once the information is sent, a QR code is generated that is valid for four hours. At the airport, you simply present your passport(s) and the QR code to the border officer, who then processes your entry as per usual.
A single submission can be made for all members of a family travelling together, which makes the process less cumbersome and more convenient.
Using the app is meant to save time. Keep an eye out for a separate Mobile Passport Control lineup at the airport, as you may be able to bypass one of the endlessly long lines that everyone else is standing in.
Some early data points from community members suggest that the Mobile Passport Control line is much shorter than the regular lines. If you’re waiting on a pending NEXUS application, or if you can’t be bothered, then this is a free option that saves you time at the airport.
Note that only U.S. citizens or Canadians entering the United States on a B1 or B2 visa can use Mobile Passport Control. This includes temporary entry for tourism and business, so it should be applicable to most travellers heading to the United States.
Where Can You Use Mobile Passport Control?
In Canada, there are currently only two airports where Mobile Passport Control can be used: Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and Montreal Trudeau (YUL). Vancouver (YVR) will have Mobile Passport Control by the end of September.
There are 38 airports and seaports in the United States and Canada where Mobile Passport Control may be used. These include:
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
- Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- William P. Hobby Houston International Airport (HOU)
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Miami Seaport
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
- Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- 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)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- San Juan Airport (SJU)
- San Juan Seaport
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Tampa International Airport (TPA)
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
How to Use Mobile Passport Control
Using Mobile Passport Control is quite easy, and it can be broken down into four steps:
Step 1: Download the App
Step 2: Create a Profile
Once the app is installed, simply create a profile for each member of your household in the app. This step isn’t necessary, but it will speed up the process of generating a QR code, as you won’t have to enter in your information every time.
You can store information for up to 12 travellers from the same household in the app.
Step 3: Fill In the CBP Form & Take a Selfie
On the main screen, enter in the details for your entry. You’ll need to fill in the method of entry (by air or by boat), as well as the port of entry.
You’ll be asked to fill in standard information about yourself, and answer a few questions about your trip. You’ll also have to take a picture of each passenger travelling with you, which you can do with the app and your device’s camera.
Once all the information is successfully entered, a QR code will be generated. You can find it in the “Receipt” tab on the app’s home page.
Step 4: Present the QR Code at the Border
At the airport, keep an eye out for an expedited Mobile Passport Control lane. If one is available, you can bypass the regular line, which could result in saving you a bunch of time.
At the border, present your passport and the QR code from the app. The border officer will process your entry as per usual, but the process should be faster than if you were to go through the regular process.
Of course, it won’t help you if you’ve been tagged for Secondary Security Screening Selection. If that’s the case, hopefully you’ve arrived well in advance of your flight’s departure.
Mobile Passport Control is now available in two Canadian airports for US pre-clearance at Toronto and Montreal. As of the end of September, it will be available in Vancouver, too.
As NEXUS centres in Canada have yet to reopen, and finding an appointment in the United States can be difficult, this might be a nice bridging measure to help save time at the border. The best part is that it’s free, so there’s no need to add another expense to your travel budget.
I’ll give this a shot the next time I travel to the United States, but in the meantime, keep us posted with any data points on how much time (if any) Mobile Passport Control has saved you.