Frequent travelers discovered years ago that mobile apps on their phones could actually make getting through customs a complete breeze. About six years ago, an app called Global Entry hit the scene and allowed travelers to take advantage of all kinds of beneficial features. One of those features enables members to skip the long security lines that you often find at the customs and immigration counters. That benefit comes with a price, though. Global Entry costs $100 to sign up. While that fee isn’t exactly a backbreaker, there’s another app that can get you through customs just as fast, and it’s completely free!
The Mobile Passport app has been around since 2014, and while it isn’t as popular as Global Entry, it has been downloaded by 3.5 million users. Obviously, the free price tag makes it fairly attractive. Theoretically, it’s not as hassle-free as Global Entry, but therein lies an interesting conundrum (at least currently). Global Entry has almost 5 million members, and that number grows daily. In order to use the app to get through customs, you usually have to visit a Global Entry kiosk at the airport prior to going through customs. With the number of members now, there’s usually a line at those kiosks. With Mobile Passport, you can usually breeze through the normal customs line without having to wait for anyone.
If you travel internationally, the price tag for Mobile Passport definitely makes it worth trying. Simply download the Mobile Passport app (it’s available for both iOS and Android devices), and enter your passport number and expiration date, then upload a photo. Once you land at your destination, you can simply open the app and answer the standard customs questions (e.g. Are you bringing back any fruits or vegetables?). It’s the same questions you’d normally have to stand in line for at the customs counter. After you’ve answered the questions on the app, you’ll be given a code that the customs agent can scan. Once you get to the customs counter, you should see a separate line for Mobile Passport users, and you probably won’t see anyone waiting in front of you.