The Best Guide to Mobile Passport: Breeze Through the Airport

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If you’ve traveled internationally recently, you have probably seen signs for “Mobile Passport” when you were passing through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. But you probably didn’t see a long line for that area.

What exactly is Mobile Passport?

Can you use that line instead of waiting in the ridiculously long one (with everyone else) to have your passport checked? The simple answer is yes — you just need to learn how!

Mobile Passport can be a great option when returning to the United States from another country — but many people have no idea what it is or how to use it. You are not alone in your confusion.

This complete guide to Mobile Passport will tell you everything you need to know and help you pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection as quickly as you can.

We will explain what the program is, how you can use it, and even show you why it’s a good idea even if you already have Global Entry.

What Is Mobile Passport?

Mobile Passport is a program authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conjunction with the Airports Council International of North America.

The program is designed to help travelers move more quickly through U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoints when they are returning to the United States from an international trip.

An iOS or Android mobile device is required to participate in Mobile Passport. The app can be downloaded for free on either operating system (iOS, Android).

Once downloaded, a traveler simply needs to have Wi-Fi or mobile data service at their participating place of entry into the U.S., and they will be able to take advantage of Mobile Passport.

The Mobile Passport app allows travelers to enter their passport and personal information securely. Upon arrival, travelers answer the required trip and declarations questions in their app and submit the information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The information sent from the Mobile Passport app replaces the paper forms passengers typically have to fill out prior to arrival.

You no longer need to have a pen or fill out arrival forms on the plane or in line. Mobile Passport allows travelers to skip right to passport review and move through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint with ease.

Formerly part of the free version, the ability to store passport and personal information securely and use the same information on multiple trips is now part of Mobile Passport plus that costs $14.99/year.

Which Airports Use Mobile Passport?

As of April 2019, Mobile Passport is available for use at 25airports and 3 cruise ports around the country.

The current airport locations where you can use Mobile Passport are below:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
  • Baltimore (BWI) – Baltimore-Washington International Airport
  • Boston (BOS) – Boston Logan International Airport
  • Chicago (ORD) – Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Dallas (DFW) – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
  • Denver (DEN) – Denver International Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale (PEV) – Port Everglades Cruise Port
  • Houston (IAH) – George Bush Intercontinental Airport
  • Houston (HOU) – William P. Hobby Airport
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Los Angeles International Airport
  • Miami (MIA) – Miami International Airport
  • Miami (MSE) – Miami Seaport Cruise Port
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport
  • New York City (JFK) – John F. Kenedy International Airport
  • Newark (EWR) – Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Orlando (MCO) – Orlando International Airport
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Philadelphia International Airport
  • Phoenix (PHX) – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Pittsburgh (PIT) – Pittsburgh International Airport
  • Portland (PDX) – Portland International Airport
  • Raleigh (RDU) – Raleigh Durham International Airport
  • Sacramento (SMF) – Sacramento International Airport
  • San Diego (SAN) – San Diego International Airport
  • San Fransisco (SFO) – San Fransisco International Airport
  • San Jose (SJC) – Mineta San Jose International Airport
  • Seattle (SEA) – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Tampa (TPA) – Tampa International Airport
  • West Palm Beach (WPB) – Port of Palm Beach Cruise Port

How to Use the Mobile Passport App

mobile passport steps for use
In 5 easy steps, you are ready to pass through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint. All you need is mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection.

To get started with Mobile Passport, the first thing you need to do is download the Mobile Passport app (iOS or Android).

Once you have the Mobile Passport app, you can set up your profile. This includes adding your personal information and official information as it appears on your passport. Make sure your passport is valid for international travel.

You can set up a profile for each family member within a single app, which is especially nice for families with young children.

When you return to the United States at a participating Mobile Passport location, simply follow these steps:

  1. Free version: open the app and re-enter all your passport information (paid version stores your passport info).
  2. Answer 5 brief questions about your trip.
  3. Review all of the information about your travel that is showing in the app. Be sure to check that everything is accurate.
  4. Then, electronically submit your information to Customs and Border Protection.
  5. After submitting your information, you will receive an electronic receipt that contains an encrypted barcode. This should take only a few seconds to get and will be valid for 4 hours.
  6. Finally, follow the Mobile Passport Control signs, show your passport to the Customs and Border Protection officer, and scan the barcode on your receipt. Once this is complete, you should be good to go. It’s as easy as that.

Hot Tip: Remember that when you submit information through the Mobile Passport app, you are certifying under penalty of law that the information is correct. This is the same as filling out a paper form or answering questions directly from a Border Control officer.

Mobile Passport vs Global Entry

Global Entry Logo Trusted Traveler Network
The Global Entry program is one of the Trusted Traveler programs from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. Global Entry is a paid service that requires a detailed background check for approval.

Mobile Passport is fairly new. Although it has some similar benefits to the Global Entry program, there are a few key features that make each desirable. You can almost think of Mobile Passport as a sort of “Global Entry Lite.”

Rather than compare the programs to decide which you should use, let’s take a look at why you would want to have both at your disposal. Then you can choose whichever has a shorter line when you arrive at the Customs and Border Protection checkpoint.

Global Entry is significantly more difficult to get approved for. It requires an extensive online application, $100 application fee, background check, and an in-person interview. Once approved, you have to reapply and pay the fee every 5 years.

The extra hassle of signing up does get you a few more perks though. With Global Entry, you get the added benefit of TSA Pre-Check to help you breeze through security at the beginning of your trip.

Global Entry also uses a kiosk system that takes care of your declarations, identification match, and even your passport check without having to wait in line to talk to a person.

When there is no line for the kiosks, there is no faster way to get through the Customs and Border Protection checkpoint than with Global Entry. However, with many credit cards refunding the application fee and most international passengers traveling regularly and valuing the faster checkpoint experience, there are times when you may have to wait in line for a Global Entry kiosk.

In those times, or when you are traveling with family members who don’t have Global Entry, Mobile Passport may be the way to go. Your trip through the checkpoint will still be significantly faster than going through the regular line, and having your family members pre-registered in your app can make things even quicker.

With the launch of Mobile Passport Plus at $14.99/year, which comes to $74.95 for the 5 years comparable to Global Entry membership, you now need to pay nearly as much as Global Entry just to have the app store your passport information for each trip. The free Mobile Passport app now requires you to manually enter your information for each trip.

Hot Tip: Check out our answers to the top FAQ for even more info on Global Entry

Final Thoughts

As we have seen, Mobile Passport is a great program that can really shorten the time it takes you to clear Customs and Border Protection when returning to the United States. As long as you meet the basic requirements to sign up, getting started with Mobile Passport is quick and simple, with an easy-to-use app that lets you securely store information for your whole family.

If you don’t want to spend the money or go through the extensive application process for Global Entry, Mobile Passport provides an excellent alternative that makes returning to the U.S. a bit more pleasant.

Even if you already have Global Entry, Mobile Passport is free, so there is no reason not to have it set up in case the line is shorter and it is the better option on arrival.

Joining Mobile Passport plus at $14.99 a year is a tougher call. You get the ability to store your passport and your family members so you don’t need to enter each time or have multiple devices.

Download the app today and have Mobile Passport ready to go for your next international trip.

Images courtesy of mobilepassport.us


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A Guide to Mobile Passport

FAQ

What is Mobile Passport?

Mobile Passport is a program that allows for expedited entry into the U.S. for qualified U.S. and Canadian citizens. Using the Mobile Passport app allows travelers to submit their passport and declarations information electronically to Customs and Border Protection, instead of using the traditional paper form.

Is Mobile Passport free?

Yes, Mobile Passport is free for the basic version. There is no cost to use the Mobile Passport service, as long as you have a compatible iOS or Android mobile device.

Mobile Passport plus costs $14.99 and makes formerly free features such as ability to store your passport for multiple trips and puts it behind the paywall.

Can Mobile Passport be used in other countries?

No, Mobile Passport can only be used in the United States when entering from another country.

Who can use Mobile Passport?

Mobile Passport can be used by U.S. citizens with a valid U.S. passport and by Canadian citizens with a valid Canadian passport and either a B1 or B2 visa status. You must have the Mobile Passport app installed on either an iOS or Android device with have Wi-Fi or mobile internet service at the time of entry.

What is the Mobile Passport app?

The Mobile Passport app is used to communicate with Customs and Border Protection, electronically submitting passport and declarations information, allowing travelers to forego the traditional paper forms when entering the United States from another country. Traveler information can be stored in the Mobile Passport app for use on future trips.

Jeff Brownson

About Jeff Brownson

Since discovering miles and points in 2010, Jeff has traveled to over 35 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible.

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49 comments

  1. EludiumQ36 · February 10, 2018 · Reply

    IMO, Mobile Passport Control is FAR superior to Global Entry:
    1. There’s no application process or background check,
    2. There’s no fee at all vs GE’s $100 for EACH family member,
    3. There’s no time limit on its use,
    4. Unlike GE which only applies to one person, with MPC the WHOLE family gets through on the one app!
    5. Lines for MPC are typically smaller or non-existent compared to GE,
    6. All these benefits and MPC is functionally equivalent to GE for the 25 airports it’s available!

    • Patriia Keaton · May 10, 2019 · Reply

      Is MPC the same application as Mobile Passport? Ive not seen Mobile Passport referred to as Mobile Passport Control. Thanks, Pat

      • Christy Rodriguez · May 10, 2019 · Reply

        Hi Pat, we know we’re answering for Eludium, however Mobile Passport Control is officially how it is referred to: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/mobile-passport-control

        It specifically notes “Mobile Passport Control (MPC) allows U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors to use the Mobile Passport app to expedite their entry process into the United States.” So essentially, they are one in the same.

  2. Looks like a big thing

  3. Masie · June 1, 2018 · Reply

    It was the first time I used the Mobile Pass App today for entry at SFO today, June 1, 2018. There was no line, and the officer at the counter checked and promptly gave me a Mobile Pass card. Holding onto that card, I continued to move with the line to get out of the airport. However, there was another staff who took my issued card but also asked me to open my App to show him my selfie photograph there. It was not at the App any more, and it said a receipt has not been issued. The staff said I was holding up the line, and he began shouting at me rudely. Then he shouted at me again to make me move on to wait in the area in the front. He did not say, “I shall get someone to help you” which is what he should say. Even when I was waiting at the area, he kept shouting at me rudely. I was never treated like that at SFO before. Finally, another officer appeared, checked my document and nicely said everything is good, and let me pass. I asked why I could not show the selfie pic, and he said it may be a faulty App! If SFO wants to encourage us to use this App to expedite our entry into U.S., the staff should be properly trained to handle and help those who may not have everything available to show them. I showed the guy my actual passport, but he refused even to look at that. I would therefore NOT recommend the use of this App to family and friends due to my bad experience. It was quite unfortunate. I hope to get some kind of feedback.

    • Jeff Brownson · June 2, 2018 · Reply

      Masie, so sorry you had that experience. Nothing like a cranky Customs or TSA agent to ruin a day of travel. I’ve only heard good things about using the app, so hopefully this was just a one time issue. If you use it again, maybe try taking a screenshot of the pic just in case, so you can pull that up if you need to. Hope the rest of your trip went better than your arrival at SFO!

  4. Bob Mansell · September 30, 2018 · Reply

    How does one use iPhone 8 to scan a passport for mobile passport?

    • Jeff Brownson · October 1, 2018 · Reply

      Bob, I can’t say for sure for the iPhone 8 since I don’t have that specific model of phone, but I would assume it works the same as other devices. Once you have downloaded the app and started to set up your profile, there will be a button that says “Scan Passport”. Select that button and allow the app to use your phone’s camera. The app should then be able to take a picture with your phone’s camera and use that information. I hope this helps. If there is a more specific problem you are having, let me know and I will do my best to help.

  5. Do they still stamp your passport if you use MP?

  6. Hello and thanks for answering my question, I want to sigh up for Mobile Passport. Since my travel partner (wife) only have one smart phone, can both of us use this feature of Mobile Passport using one phone?

    • Hi Ed,

      Yes – you can setup a profile on the Mobile Passport app for your entire family. This means you can use just one phone!

  7. Hi! I lost my passport in Mexico… Can I just use this or are they going to ask for my passport?

    • Hi Teresa, the mobile passport program is designed to help travelers move more quickly through U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoints when they are returning to the United States from an international trip. This means the program is used once you land in the states and is only applicable at certain airports that have approved the program.

      You will still need a passport or other approved identification in order to get through security at the airport you are departing from.

  8. When will Detroit Michigan be added as a new city?

    • Hi Jerry, please be advised we are not U.S. Customs and Border Protection, nor are we the Airports Council International of North America. Therefore, we cannot give you a timeline as to when Detroit will be added.

      You could potentially call the ACI and see if they have any information for you, but I wouldn’t count on it. Their phone number is +1 514 373 1200. Drop us a line here if you find out more info!

  9. Sue Kotalik · February 17, 2019 · Reply

    Can you load/scan passport card info in this app?

    • Hi Sue, as you can see in the main photo & explanation under the “How to Use the Mobile Passport App” heading, once you download the app, you will then be prompted to enter your information. It appears U.S. and Canadian passport holders can scan in their passports however if this scan does not work you will need to enter the information manually. Hope this answers your question…

  10. Hi,

    I cannot find IAD as one of the option for port of entry. Has it been removed?

    • Katie Seemann · March 11, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Vicki,
      Yes, it looks like IAD has been removed. Thanks for letting us know — we will get this post updated.

  11. Why has mobile passport been discontinued at Dulles?

    • Stephen Au · March 19, 2019 · Reply

      Hey M_N,

      We did not develop the Mobile Passport, and therefore we wouldn’t know if/why it is discontinued at certain locations. The best advice we can give is to reach out to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and ask them. Thanks for reading

  12. Audrey · March 18, 2019 · Reply

    Question – are you able to download the app onto 2 phones and enter the exact same information?? I am curious – my husband and I travel together, but you never know when a phone might act funny (or have a dead battery) and the other person’s phone might have to be used as “back-up”.

    • Stephen Au · March 19, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Audrey,

      We don’t know the details of this app because we did not develop it. The best thing you can do is try it out once and see if it works. Thanks for reading.

  13. Barbara · March 31, 2019 · Reply

    At JFK, terminal 7 last night, I used the Mobile Passport app when we landed and “submitted” a declaration electronically for me and my husband. When we got to the passport zone, there was a single line for both Mobile Passport and Global Entry. We both have Global Entry, and there were free Global Entry kiosks, so we tried to use them. It didn’t work for my husband–he got no response at all (maybe problem with the machine–others were having such problems). The machine read my passport, but denied me a receipt because, it said, I had already gone through a Port of Entry very recently. I hadn’t come through a US Port of Entry for a year, but I had used the Mobile Passport app a few minutes before. Does this mean that you forfeit the ability to use Global Entry if you submit a declaration by Mobile Passport and should wait to click the submit button until you are sure that you are going to use MP rather than GE?

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 1, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Barbara. Once you have used the Mobile Passport app on arrival, submitted the information, and received the QR code, you can go directly to the customs (CBT) officer. There is no need to use Global Entry at that point as you have completed the requirements and re-entered. You can elect to use either your Global Entry or Mobile Passport.

  14. I did not see IAD (Washington DC, Dulles) Airport in the list of Port of Entry. What should I select in case I am arriving at IAD?

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Amit. Washington Dulles Airport has Mobile Passport active. You can use either Mobile Passport or an appropriate trusted traveler program such as Global Entry.

  15. Donna Landolf · April 12, 2019 · Reply

    I don’t have a Passport Book. I only have a Passport Card. Can the Card be entered into the Mobile App?

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 13, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Donna. Thanks for your question. Mobile Passport is an app designed for re-entering the U.S. via an approved airport or seaport. You need a passport to set up the Mobile Passport app. A Passport Card cannot be used for international air travel or setting up Mobile Passport.

      • Jim Eads · April 20, 2019 · Reply

        Then why is the Miami Seaport listed as a location where Mobile Passport can be used???

        • Christy Rodriguez · April 20, 2019 · Reply

          Hi Jim, the Mobile Passport App can only by used with a U.S. Passport (and Canadian visitors as well). In order to use the Mobile Passport at any of the 3 seaports where it is available (including Miami Seaport), you must have a Passport – a Passport Card would not be sufficient.

          You can still use a Passport Card for travel where it is valid (Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda), however you would not be able to use the Mobile Passport App upon your re-entry to the U.S.

          Hope this helps.

        • Christine Krzyszton · April 21, 2019 · Reply

          You are correct, Jim. I have added Seaports to my answer for more clarification. Thank you.

  16. Sandy Blankenship · April 13, 2019 · Reply

    I have tried many times to use Mobile Passport and I’ve never received a response or clearance! I always end up using my Global Entry. Why do I never get an answer or clearance?

    • Christy Rodriguez · April 14, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Sandy, Mobile Passport is an app that can be found in the App Store on your phone. There is no approval process for this – you would just download the app and enter all of the necessary information. Full instructions on how to do this can be found in the article above.

      It is not available at all airports though, so we recommend checking above for which airports you can use this at.

      Thank you!

  17. Patrick · April 23, 2019 · Reply

    Mobile Passport updated their app today. They now have a premium version, you can no longer store your Passport data without upgrading, allows you to store and manage all of your families Passports in one app (device), Ad Free. $14.99/Year after a 7 day trial. I don’t see the value in it, especially when they take away something you had for free and charge you for it now. You can still use the free version, no passport storage though so you have to enter it every time you want to use it.

    • Toby Plumb · April 23, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Patrick – thank you for sharing the news today. This is disappointing for all of us mobile passport users. We are updating the piece.

  18. LeeAnn · April 23, 2019 · Reply

    I read that once you submit your information you receive an electronic receipt that contains an encrypted barcode. This should take only a few seconds to get and will be valid for 4 hours.

    Does this mean you need to arrive at your USA city airport within 4 hours of submitting it, or does it mean you only have 4 hours to print it out?

    Thanks

    • Christy Rodriguez · April 24, 2019 · Reply

      Hi LeeAnn, your bar code will be good for 4 hours once you enter in all of your information. The Mobile Passport App actually notes that this needs to be done upon arrival to the US. Personally, I like to submit the information while taxiing to the gate or while waiting for everyone to deplane the aircraft. You will get a bar code confirming that this was successful.

      Your bar code doesn’t need to be printed. You can simply show your passport to the Customs and Border Protection officer who will also scan the bar code on your phone. Hope this helps!

  19. LeeAnn C Doppel · April 23, 2019 · Reply

    Is the airport city list above updated? I will be landing back in the USA at the SLC airport.
    Thanks

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 24, 2019 · Reply

      Hello LeeAnn. I just checked the Mobile Passport App and SLC is not one of the listed airports.

  20. Igor · May 5, 2019 · Reply

    I got this application 2-3 years ago and have used it 3-4 times on my trips. It was good that I did not need to enter my password information every time. I loved just to select my airport, company and flight number and go. All other information was on my phone and I used it. I had info an myself and my wife. Lines were Ok, quicker for 5-10 min then regular gates. (I was coming through JFK).
    I just had another trip 2 weeks ago and was looking forward to use it again and to save some time.

    Unfortunately it did not work as I have expected.
    1. When I wanted to enter information about my trip and be ready to go through the control, the application did not let me go through process until I will select between 2 options:
    A. upgrade to plus version ($14.99 every year) or
    B. stay with a free version.
    It is Ok, but biggest surprise was that, if I choose to continue with my free version, warning pop up that ALL MY INFORMATION including passport information WILL BE DELETED, meaning I have to enter everything over again and will have to do it every time in the future. As I have mention, I have used this application before and I never needed to reenter my data again. This was one of the big pluses of the application. So, I found myself in airport with choice to select Plus Version and pay or not to pay and reenter all data about 2 of us because if I proceed my current data will be deleted! Reentering data means time. So. what is the gain?
    Eventually, I decided to pay and it was nice to find out that I still have 7 days free trial for it and do not need to pay now.
    2. When I got into Mobile Passport line in JFK, we found ourself behind approximately 30-40 people line to get through Mobile Passport gate. It is interesting, that it was at least 16-18 gates open if you do not have Mobile App and ONLY one if you do. So, more people get an application, more problem we will have. Line was moving pretty slow and after 10 min of. waiting we decide to leave it and to go to regular lines (which had much less people and were moving faster), but found it is not easy because you are between 2 boards on the left and right which are separating you from regular lines. We realized that we are trapped and the only way to finish is to continue through this gate. In approximately 25-30 min in line, we got to the person at the gate. I was surprised that he did not care about our mobile pass. He checked our passports and then started to ask all questions one by one which we have answered in our mobile passes. After we answered them, he documented all, scanned our passports and only after that he checked mobile pass and let us go.

    So, If you travel across the border multiple times a year, may be it worse it, If you like most of us and doing trip once in a while (more then once a year) it will cost you $14.99 each time or you will need to spend time entering all data over again. I feel that they doing this only for one purpose – force you to select Plus Version and collect extra money for the application, because otherwise why to delete your data, it is there…
    More customers will use it, longer lines will be and you again under mercy of the agent at the gate how fast he/she will process you.

    • Christy Rodriguez · May 5, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Igor, as you noted, Customs and Board Protection made changes to the Mobile Passport app as of 4/23/19. These changes included a significant decrease in accessibility to the free app and added in the paid version that retains all of your information. This was a disappointment to all of us here at Upgraded Points as well.

      Ultimately, there is still a free option with Mobile Passport, which is nice even if you have to re-enter all the information each time. Other similar options, like Global Entry, are $100, but valid for 5 years. This might be a good option for you as lines are usually much shorter. In addition, many credit cards will pay for your application as well.

      Thank you for noting your experience, it may help some of our other readers in deciding if the upgrade is worth it for them as well.

  21. Walter · May 7, 2019 · Reply

    If I am a citizen and my spouse is just a resident and through the app I try to use the ‘family’ feature, does anyone know if we are still able to utilize the app? I understand that one must be a US Citizen but didn’t know if everyone on the family needed to be one as well. Anyone have any insight on this?

    • Christy Rodriguez · May 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Walter, currently only U.S. citizens (with a valid U.S. passport) and Canadian visitors (with both a valid Canadian passport and B1 or B2 visa status) are able to use the Mobile Passport app. I am not sure if your spouse is from Canada. If not, unfortunately they would be unable to join in on the “family” side of the app. Sorry about that!

  22. Jarid · May 11, 2019 · Reply

    San Diego no longer has Mobile Passport, as of my international arrival 10 May 2019. I was told if I use Mobile Passport and Global Entry in the same visit (not knowing which line would be shorter) it can deny your global entry use on that visit. Why did San Diego take out its Mobile Passport?

    • Christy Rodriguez · May 11, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Jarid, San Diego is still listed as having Mobile Passport available as of today: https://mobilepassport.us/

      There were recently changes to the Mobile Passport app though, so I would make sure you have the most current version.

      Also, have never heard of “denying” global entry upon your re-entry to the U.S. if you also fill out a Mobile Passport form. In fact, sometimes the Global Entry and Mobile Passport lines are combined. I’ve done this many times myself and just chose the shortest line. Hope this helps!

  23. Does Dominican Republic allow MP?

    • Christy Rodriguez · May 15, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Keem. Mobile Passport is only valid in the U.S. at the airports/seaports listed above. You would be able to use it upon your return if you will be returning to one of those locations though!

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