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Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Old May 28th 2023, 5:15 pm
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Default Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

When we (US Citizens) arrived at SFO last week (international flight), the line for US citizens was massive – the queue was all the way back to the gate area. Never, ever seen it that bad before in 40 years of traveling. While standing in line, we noticed a fast moving lane for ‘Mobile Passport Control’. Our line was so long and slow, I figured out how to download, install, and configure the ‘MPC’ app while standing in line. It’s a tedious process to set up, you have to scan your passport photo page, and enter/verify a bunch of info … but I got it all done, and then … hopped from the snail-pace lane over to the ‘no longer any line’ lane, and breezed through! Had I had this app already set up on my phone, it would have saved us probably 2 hours but even after spending 15 minutes struggling to set it up while standing in line (taking photos of passport, gathering various bits of info, etc) it still saved us probably 1 hour.

So – it’s worth doing this ahead of time. It was a bit confusing in the ‘Google Play Store’ to find the right app; there were a few apps masquerading as similar items. The key elements are: “MPC” – Mobile Passport Control. It says “Official App of the US Department of Homeland Security”. It’s label on my phone is “CBP MPC” (CBP for Customs and Border Protection, I think). At the same time I set this up on my Android, my g/f set up the corresponding App on her iPhone. This is what the main screen looks like, once configured:


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Old May 28th 2023, 5:25 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

I have this, but have never used it. Global Entry has always been faster to date, although I have heard there can be lines there as well now.
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Old May 28th 2023, 5:29 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Global Entry is the way to go, $20 a year ($100 for 5 years+) to practically never stop at the US border ever again. Also includes TSA Pre. If you're a US Citizen, the card is also RealID so no need to update your DL.

Many credit cards also reimburse the $100.
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Old May 28th 2023, 5:40 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Originally Posted by tht
I have this, but have never used it. Global Entry has always been faster to date, although I have heard there can be lines there as well now.
Originally Posted by postbox134
Global Entry is the way to go, $20 a year ($100 for 5 years+) to practically never stop at the US border ever again. Also includes TSA Pre. If you're a US Citizen, the card is also RealID so no need to update your DL.

Many credit cards also reimburse the $100.
Thanks for the reminder / tip on Global Entry! I pretty much stopped doing international travel a while back, so didn't bother with it, but now it seems international travel is back on my radar so I should get it. I got TSA Precheck a few yeas ago and it was a fantastic benefit, so I imagine GE is similar.

PS - does anyone know what was going on with SFO last week? The line for non-citizens was even worse than the line for citizens. In my 40-years of flying into SFO (as a non-citizen and citizen) it's never been an issue. It's always been one of the fastest airports to enter through. I'm wondering if there was a technology issue ... but then, the MPC line would have been impacted. I felt REALLY sorry for all the poor tourists who were entering through the non-citizen line; not a nice way to start your vacation!

Last edited by Steerpike; May 28th 2023 at 5:44 pm.
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Old May 28th 2023, 6:57 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

We have had NEXUS for years…great for avoiding the queues at security and immigration.
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Old May 28th 2023, 8:04 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

I have Global Entry as a British citizen. Whilst I have saved some queue time it has primarily been useful for avoiding the fifth degree by some overzealous USCBP officer.

My last entry in April at JFK:

“Business or pleasure?”
“Pleasure”
“Anything to declare?”
“No”
“Have a nice day”

Meanwhile my parents in the pleb queue were told that Harrisburg, Pennsylvania wasn’t a tourist destination and they needed to justify their visit 😋
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Old May 28th 2023, 8:49 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

BIP^^^^

Your parents should have just said ....Hershey, Hershey world, Hershey chocolate, nuff said😎
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Old May 28th 2023, 9:23 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

I've used this app and its predecessor since 2019. It's useful if all members of the family don't have Global Entry. In fact when my grandson and I came back from the UK last September, we walked straight up to the MPC desk, no-one else there.
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Old May 28th 2023, 9:57 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Originally Posted by lansbury
I've used this app and its predecessor since 2019. It's useful if all members of the family don't have Global Entry. In fact when my grandson and I came back from the UK last September, we walked straight up to the MPC desk, no-one else there.
Found this handy-dandy summary of both programs - GE and MPC - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/t...s-global-entry
GE is available at more airports than MPC, but since SFO is my typical port of entry, it seems like MPC is going to be good enough for me, at least for now. I didn't see any difference between GE and MPC lines last week when I came through, but then, I didn't know the difference back then. My next re-entry is likely to be in Oct/Nov, and that will be a return through SFO so MPC seems like it's good enough. My TSA-Precheck is going to expire within the next year; that's probably when I will gear up for the GE application (since GE includes TSA-Pre).
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Old May 29th 2023, 3:00 am
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

GE saved me a 2 hr wait arriving into Miami a couple of weeks ago but it has lengthy delays to process (for some!) and random timings. Both of my kids applied early Nov 22, one approved relatively quick, other still waiting....
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Old May 30th 2023, 2:49 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Dear Lord, GE applications are now 4-6 months. Flying in Oct to Europe. I guess I missed that window
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Old May 30th 2023, 2:51 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Originally Posted by excpomea
Dear Lord, GE applications are now 4-6 months. Flying in Oct to Europe. I guess I missed that window
When I applied for it in 2019, it took about a year to process! Fortunately, COVID meant I didn't really mind waiting...
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Old May 30th 2023, 5:02 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

I applied to renew my GE in March and got approval in 48 hours, no interview required. My husband renewed his last week and had the same experience.
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Old May 30th 2023, 5:03 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Originally Posted by Olly_
I applied to renew my GE in March and got approval in 48 hours, no interview required. My husband renewed his last week and had the same experience.
Renewals are quick it seems, but first time applications can be months and months.
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Old May 30th 2023, 5:15 pm
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Default Re: Getting through Customs/Immigration faster at US airports - MPC App

Originally Posted by Olly_
I applied to renew my GE in March and got approval in 48 hours, no interview required. My husband renewed his last week and had the same experience.
Wife did renewal for GE in September and notification said had to interview, we did nothing deciding to do it on the way back into the country next time. Got notification in Feb that was now approved, never had to do the interview.
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