The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now allowing American and Canadian travelers to use a new Mobile Passport app at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The app, currently in a pilot program, eliminates the need for flyers to fill out traditional custom declarations paper forms, bypassing long lines at the airport.
According to CBP spokeswoman Jennifer Evanitsky, the Atlanta-based airport proposed the new app to the Airports Council International-North America earlier this month. The app is intended to cut costs and reduce waiting times at airports, which is one of the biggest frustrations for frequent flyers, jet setters and even airline crew members.
The app requires flyers to enter their passport information, including surname, given names, date of birth, sex, country of residence, passport number, issuing country and expiration date, in addition to filling out a “New Trip” section that contains custom declarations questions. After completing these sections, the app issues a receipt, valid for four hours, that can be shown to a CBP officer to clear customs.
“Airside Mobile felt that there was a sufficient number of travelers with iOS devices to sustain the pilot, especially considering the demographics of international travel and the documented rates of travel-app engagement for iOS,” Evanitsky says.
The app is not intended to be a replacement for passports, so flyers still have to show their receipt and passport to a CBP officer in a separate line. Additionally, families with up to four members can be processed together through the app.
The CBP recommends that flyers fill out the information upon landing at a destination airport, although travelers can take advantage of in-flight Wi-Fi to expedite the process. However, forms cannot be submitted through the app more than two hours prior to landing.
The app is currently restricted to American and Canadian travelers, although the CBP is considering expanding the service to additional countries part of the visa waiver program. There is no timeline for when other nationalities will gain eligibility, although citizens of other countries can still take advantage of Automated Passport Control at 22 U.S. airports.
Mobile Passport is free on the App Store for iPhone.