Mobile Passport Control App Lets Canadians Skip U.S. Customs Lines at Airports

People flying to the U.S. from Toronto Pearson International Airport or Montreal Trudeau International Airport can use an app to submit all of their required travel information in advance and avoid long lines at U.S. Customs — reports CTV News Toronto.

The U.S.Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app launched on August 30 for eligible air travellers in Canada and lets them submit their passport, customs declaration form, and any other travel information before crossing the border.

In addition, the U.S. CBP said travellers who use the MPC app can even save their information “so it will be readily available for future international travel.” The federal agency hopes the app will result in “less congestion” at Customs.

“It also eliminates the need for a declaration form because travellers can answer the CBP inspection-related questions electronically via their smartphone or tablet prior to arriving at Customs,” the CBP said in a news release.

Travellers flying out of Pearson or Montreal Trudeau can use the MPC app at preclearance at Customs or when they land in the U.S.

To use the MPC app, eligible travellers must first download it from the App Store or Play Store. Once downloaded, travellers need to digitally fill out their passport information, submit their Customs declaration form, fill in any other required information, snap a selfie, and answer a series of questions.

“It probably took me less than a minute to fill out the questions,” said Jade Horinga, who used the MPC app while flying to St. Louis, MO, on September 6.

Once they’ve submitted all the required information, the MPC app gives travellers an encrypted QR code that is valid for four hours. They can show this QR code to a Customs officer for final inspection upon landing.

“I didn’t really know what to expect [or] if it was even going to work, and it was amazing,” Horinga added. “There was nobody in the MPC line at Pearson and there was a huge line for customs, and we basically got to skip the entire line.”

According to the CBP, all information submitted through the app is sent through “secure encryption protocols.”

At the moment, the MPC app can only be used when landing at the following 31 U.S. airports:

  •  Baltimore/Washington International Airport
  •  Boston Logan International Airport
  •  Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  •  Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  •  Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  •  Dulles International Airport
  •  Denver International Airport
  •  Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  •  Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  •  Houston George Bush intercontinental Airport
  •  William P. Hobby Houston International Airport
  •  Kansas City International Airport
  •  Los Angeles International Airport
  •  Miami International Airport
  •  Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport
  •  John F. Kennedy International Airport
  •  Newark Liberty International Airport
  •  Oakland International Airport
  •  Orlando International Airport
  •  Philadelphia International Airport
  •  Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  •  Pittsburgh International Airport
  •  Portland International Airport
  •  Sacramento International Airport
  •  San Diego International Airport
  •  San Francisco International Airport
  •  San Jose International Airport
  •  San Juan Airport
  •  Salt Lake City International Airport
  •  Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  •  Tampa International Airport

The mobile app can also be used at seaports. While the program is currently only available to travellers going through two Canadian airports, the CBP said it will expand it to Vancouver starting September 19.

The MPC app is making it easier for Canadians to enter the U.S. However, the same can’t be said for crossing back into Canada, thanks to the oft-criticized ArriveCAN app.