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Update Mobile Passport App

I'm looking for recent information of this mobile app, especially for Atlanta's airport. I don't recall seeing a line for it when we came back from Germany last month, but then again I wasn't looking and was talking with my daughter. I'm wondering if it is actually worth it, if it's safe to use and put your information on and if Atlanta has gotten any better at it working here. I absolutely hate the lines at Atlanta and would love to be able to shorten our time upon our return from London this summer since my mom will be with us.

Posted by
829 posts

I did not ho thru Atlanta but we did go thru Newark last wednesday . First time to usr that app. No line for the mobile app. Tons of prople in the regular us entry. It was a breeze!!!

Posted by
996 posts

Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) is listed as being an airport which allows the use of the Mobile Passport app.

The app is free to use, but it's easier to set it up before you leave as you need to take a picture of yourself to use it. (In that respect, it's like the machines you use when you return to the US from abroad. They have to have a photo of you.) When your plane lands, you just enter the information from your flight (flight number, answer the usual questions upon return to the States), and then you hit send. You'll receive a little bar code like image which you'll then use to clear the Mobile App line at the airport.

I used the app for the first time this year, returning from LHR to JFK. We (two of us) made it through JFK in five minutes, so I was very pleased.

Also, if you are traveling as a group, you can use one phone to handle everyone's Mobile App entry as long as you have entered the information for everyone in your traveling party into your own app and make sure that you have them toggled as members of your current travel party.

As far as safe to use, I have no information. The app comes from US Customs and Border Patrol. I expect the information is as safe as it is entering it into any arm of the US government.

Posted by
41 posts

We used Mobile Passport a couple of months ago in Atlanta. We got through the line at the same speed as our traveling companions using Global Entry. Blue shirt agents who are along the way will direct you to the designated line. I can recommend it.

Posted by
1036 posts

I use the mobile app in late December in Atlanta and it worked well. No waiting, no lines.

Posted by
11275 posts

I just used Mobile Passport yesterday, my third time. I was returning to Newark terminal B; my other two times were at JFK terminal 7 and JFK terminal 4. All three times were great. I even beat the people using Global Entry! I haven't used it at Atlanta, so I can't speak to that, but I was surprised that the Mobile Passport lines are still short, more than a year after it was introduced (my first use of it was in May 2017).

You do have to look around for the Mobile Passport lines, and I often have to ask to be sure. Yesterday, I used the same line as the one reserved for diplomats; in JFK, it was different. Because the lines are short, they can be kind of hidden and hard to find, and I always have the sensation of being in the wrong place. I keep thinking, "it can't be this easy," but it is.

The other thing to know is that you need to have your actual passport, as well as the Mobile Passport app, ready to show for both the immigration step and the customs step.

As for the "safety" of the app, I'm no expert. But remember, the US government is getting the information one way or another (whether you use the app or use the machines at the airport on arrival, you're putting in the same info). I suppose one's phone could be hacked, so someone could get my date of birth. But that's all the "usable" information it has; my passport number won't mean much to anyone, and the rest is just the questions about your arriving flight carrier and number, plus the customs questions (have you visited a farm? are you carrying more than $10,000? etc).

I guess if you're really worried, you can always delete the app after using it. By keeping it on my phone, I was already entered as a traveler, saving some time (and the hassle of taking my picture again). I filled in my flight info and answered the customs questions before take-off. I then was told that I could only send the info within four hours of my arrival, so I closed the app. When I re-opened it on arrival, the info was ready to send as soon as my data came back (I was in airplane mode while flying). Again, it all felt "too easy to be true," but it worked great.

I realize I'm going on about this, but it feels like when I first used ATM's abroad. "Can it really be this quick and easy to get cash whenever I need it, even in a foreign country?" Just like ATM's, the answer is yes.

Posted by
380 posts

Thank you everyone! I was hoping people would have had good experience with it here in Atlanta.

One more question, can my mom, with a different last name than me since I'm married, be put on the same app with myself and my daughter? Or could she go on my sisters since my sister is not married and they have the same last name? Or is she better off having it on her phone only? She's never flown international so going through customs and such will be totally new for her and I want to make it as easy as possible?

Posted by
11275 posts

The wording on the app, under the first step of Passenger Information is "Are you traveling with family? If yes, you can submit one form for all members traveling with you."

Looking at the FAQ's on the app, it says

Group submissions may be made using the Mobile Passport app on one mobile device for all family members of the same household traveling together (provided that each family member is a US citizen with a valid US passport or a Canadian citizen with both a valid Canadian Passport and B1 or B2 visa status).

So, if she lives with someone else in your travel party, she could be submitted on their app. If not, she will need her own app. This follows the same rules as in the days of paper customs forms - one form per family, but all members of the family had to have the same residence (so when my mother and I travel together, we needed to have separate customs forms).

Ther's also an FAQ (too long to retype) about "Is the Mobile Passport app secure?" Download the app and read that section; if it doesn't satisfy you, you can always delete the app before using it.

Posted by
380 posts

Thank you Harold! I figured she wouldn't be able to be on mine or my sisters, she lives by herself but thought I would check. I did reread the security section and as you or someone else said, it's not getting any other information that we have to already provide. Thank you for the help! We'll give it a try and keep our fingers crossed it works.

Posted by
293 posts

I have used Mobile Passport several times in Atlanta. Yes, they usually have a dedicated line but it's not always well marked or easy to find. As soon as you see someone directing traffic tell them you have Mobile Passport. You may have to keep doing this with everyone you see until you finally find the line. I have found it to be easy to use and a real time saver especially in the chaos that is ATL.

Posted by
467 posts

We used the app about 10 days ago in Boston. It was easy to use and we were grateful for not having to wait in the regular long, long line. As others have said, if you are traveling as a family, you can all be listed regardless of the difference in last names. One bit of advice that I obtained from this forum before I left was that when you arrive at your airport (Atlanta), be sure your location is activated on your phone and that the time is correctly set to Atlanta time. I was able to do this in Boston and received the necessary reply from the app before we even got off the plane. Easy.

Posted by
938 posts

Worked great at JFK two years ago, but did not work in Atlanta last summer. I never could get my info I entered in the app to "go through" and there was no dedicated line.

I hope Judy from Atlanta sees this thread and chimes in here, I think she's been through since I have. She may have more up-to-date info.

Posted by
1 posts

At the moment, I'd suggest not using the app in Atlanta. On 5/12, there were over 200 people in the mobile line with only 1 app reader. It was far faster to go through the regular line. People were furious. They finally brought in 3 additional people to review passports for people in the mobile app line. It took me over 2 hours to get through customs. The real kicker was one of the customs officials was yelling to the crowd as we were complaining that they only had 1 reader because they were expensive and they didn't have the funds for more. He would have been wiser to keep that info to himself.

Posted by
1984 posts

Georgiatraveler,
I just returned on 4/29 from Amsterdam to Atlanta. I went through passport and customs in less than an hour. I have not downloaded the mobile passport app on my iPhone. Sorry I have no information to share.

Celeste, hi, would love it if you are able to make our next meeting. June 23. I will post a notice. Same for you Georgiatraveler!

Posted by
380 posts

Momsfolly - That's one of the reasons I hate going through ATL sometimes but I usually have no choice since it's home. We stood in the regular line last year for 2 hours because my paper had the X on it and they only had 3 people doing all passport checks.

Can someone please tell me that if we have done everything on the app and have our QR code, do we still have to go through the mobile app line if it is really long? Can we decide to go through the regular line if its shorter?

Posted by
3176 posts

The mobile passport app is free unlike Global Entry. What is the difference when arriving back in the US between having GE and using the mobile passport app besides the money/time saved not getting GE? Are there separate immigration lines for mobile app users as there are for GE? Just curious what the differences are. Thanks.

Posted by
11275 posts

"Are there separate immigration lines for mobile app users as there are for GE?"

Again, I can only speak to the three times and places I've used it (EWR terminal B in May 2018, JFK terminal 7 in May 2017, and JFK terminal 4 in September 2017). In each case, I followed signs to Mobile Passport, which were indeed separate from the Global Entry section, and separate again from the regular US returnee section. As I said, I had to ask more than once to make sure I was in the right place; the most recent time at EWR, it was clearly signed, but the other two times it wasn't as clear.

All three times, my lines were shorter than the ones for Global Entry. So for me so far, there's no advantage to getting Global Entry. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by
3176 posts

All three times, my lines were shorter than the ones for Global Entry.
So for me so far, there's no advantage to getting Global Entry. Your
mileage may vary.

Wow. I typically return via T4 JFK. It is amazing to me that GE lines were longer. Perhaps people don't know about the free app which is why the GE lines are longer? The app certainly worked out for you!

I guess in theory I could download that app and when I arrive back at T4, I could see which line is shorter and take that line?

Posted by
996 posts

I know that at JFK (not sure which terminal), the Mobile Passport line was literally one person ahead of us. I couldn't ask for better.

Posted by
1821 posts

I used in Atlanta in December since I was with my mother and could not use GE. Yes, it made a dramatic difference. Of course you still go the rudest immigration agents that I have ever met dealing with you but....

Yes, folks the surly agents in Atlanta make the folks in Russia who really didn't want us in their country look like charming friendly people! Apparently if your passport has more than one stamp you are a disloyal citizen who should be subject to abuse.... . And honestly I don't even speak to them except to respond to their questions... The lines are so long because they are happily harassing the citizens. Apparently my one time visit to Russia visa allows them to ask me questions like "are you a communist"? what jerks!

Their excuse for anything is "funding" One time they got mad about something and decided the way to get more funds was stage a slowdown...

I hate it, but I live here so...

Posted by
8434 posts

Thanks Harold. I just downloaded the app.