Mobile Passport: 4 things to know before you travel

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Mobile Passport: 4 things to know before you travel
Image Credit: Mobile Passport app
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Whether you’re a frequent international traveler or someone who indulges in the occasional getaway, you know those journeys, which include waiting in long lines and lugging heavy bags, can be tough. To their credit, the federal government has come up with an expedited way to assist travelers in getting back into the country. It’s called Mobile Passport.

If you happen to be a globetrotter, you already know that anything that can make your travel easier, including new technology, is a welcome addition.

RELATED: Going on a trip abroad? Here’s your essential travel guide

Here are 4 things to know about Mobile Passport

Mobile Passport follows the same concept of the paper version you may already carry, but it’s in electronic form. The Mobile Passport app speeds you through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 25 different U.S. airports and Port Everglades cruise port.

With the app, travelers don’t need to fill out paper arrival forms when they return to the U.S. from international trips.

1. Mobile Passport: How to sign up

First, you’ll need to download the app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play, depending on your device. Note that you’ll need a valid existing U.S. passport to sign up for Mobile Passport. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll set up a profile (you can even set up profiles for your entire family) that will be encrypted and only shared with CBP.

2. How Mobile Passport works

When you’re ready to travel, you can add your trip, including any pertinent information on where and when you’re traveling as well as who’s going with you.

You’ll be prompted to scan your passport right there into the app. Make sure you input your passport number correctly if you’re doing it manually. The app stresses that you double check that the names match and are spelled correctly. “Improper entries will prevent processing,” it says.

You’ll also need to divulge some personal info like your date of birth, sex, country of citizenship and surname.

Once you arrive at a valid port of entry (airport or sea port), you’ll connect to Wi-Fi to submit your data to CBP. You’ll in turn receive a bar code that is valid for four hours. From there, you’ll proceed to a Mobile Passport Control line, where you’ll show your passport to a CBP agent and scan your bar code. If everything is in order, you’ll be on your way!

3. Where is Mobile Passport available in the U.S.?

Mobile Passport is available at 25 international airports around the United States: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Houston Hobby, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Newark, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa and Washington Dulles. It’s also available at Port Everglades cruise port.

Federal officials say that more cities will be added over time.

4. Mobile Passport: Team Clark review

Team Clark member and leader of our Consumer Action Center Lori recently used Mobile Passport on a trip out of the country. She said the whole experience was hassle-free.

“The app is free and simple to use,” she says. “Passports are scanned and stored for future travel and the app allows you to skip the kiosk at the airport and breeze through Customs via the mobile passport line.”

She says an added benefit is that Mobile Passport can give you peace of mind if by chance your physical passport is lost or stolen.

RELATED: Here’s how your passport could be useless, even if it’s not expired

One thing to note: Mobile Passport does not give you TSA Precheck, which is a program that allows for low-risk passengers to expedite their security screenings.

Here are some more travel-related articles you might enjoy from Clark.com:

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer.  You can reach Craig at craig@clark.com
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