Stuck at Customs? No Problem

When you arrive in the U.S. from an international trip, the last thing you want to do is fill out forms with personal information about yourself and your trip. Luckily, technology has caught up with paper entry forms through memberships and mobile apps. Global Entry and Mobile Passport are changing the way we get through customs—helping to move you through quickly and without a hassle.

Global Entry vs. Mobile Passport

Global Entry is a program approved by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Rather than fill out paperwork post-arrival, line up at a kiosk, enter your “Trusted Known Traveler number” and scan your fingerprint to receive a receipt to present to the CBP. Following a swift, routine interview, you’ll be cleared to move on. Almost 60 airports internationally have these kiosks available.

Still popular, yet less mainstream than Global Entry, is the free Mobile Passport. Within three hours of arrival, fill out the mobile application—the only app officially authorized by U.S. CPB—with your passport information, including a photo; answer routine questions, such as “are you bringing food into the country?” (if the answer is yes, you might have to discard them). Then head straight to a CBP officer with the receipt, which has an encrypted barcode—no physical check-in required. Currently, it’s available at one cruise port and 25 airports in the U.S.

Sign Me Up

Global Entry requires a few more steps. First, create an account with the Global Online Enrollment System. Fill out an application with your information and pay $100 for five years, then wait for your approval. If the application process goes smoothly and you are approved, you then must schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Pack a passport and one other form of ID, talk with a CBP agent and receive your Trusted Known Traveler number.

Mobile Passport is, as mentioned above, free. You simply need to fill out your information—passport number, your name as it appears on the passport, birthdate—and you’re good to go. Make sure you have your passport with you and ready when at customs so the CBP officer can double-check your information, then continue on to baggage claim.

Planner On-the-Go

These programs are a no-brainer for those who travel internationally for events, as it removes time dedicated to reciting your information on paper—especially convenient for those racing to connecting flights. Plus, it could be your ticket to breezing through security when long lines build up after a large flight disembarks.