Updated on 28.07.2021

Automated passport control points at US airports

As reported in April of this year, a total of 340 new passport control points will be established at selected US airports by 2016 to simplify entry into the United States. We explain which international travelers can use these special passport control points.

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What is Automated Passport Control (APC)?

The so-called Automated Passport Control (APC) program the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allows certain US travelers expedited clearance at the border.

Travelers can handle part of the entry procedure themselves at specially equipped entry machines, so-called APC kiosks, in designated areas. At 25 US airports (as of summer 2021), the electronic passport control system enables travelers to submit their customs declarations and biographical data at self-service terminals. The electronic passport control system thus simplifies and accelerates border control when entering the USA.

Use of the automated passport checkpoints is available free of charge and does not require pre-registration, such as with the Global Entry Program- and is also not to be confused with it.

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Functionality of the automated passport control (APC)

The USA travelers can scan their passport directly at one of the entry machines and also submit the customs declaration there (paper form is not required). After taking a photo and answering a few security questions at the machine, a confirmation is printed out.

The interview with the US immigration officer at the border is not completely eliminated by this procedure, because the US traveler must still present his or her passport and the printed receipt to the border officials.

Regular clearance is of course still possible - but the new procedure significantly reduces waiting times at entry and speeds up the entry process.

Attention: In the wake of stricter entry requirements under the"Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015."are, among others, persons from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) excluded who have been in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan or Syria since March 1, 2011. Also, when entering the country with the help of the electronic passport control system APC once again. If VWP travelers confirm a trip to one or more of the countries just mentioned at the self-service terminal, visa-free entry to the US with ESTA can still be denied on site at the border. Affected persons need for the entry into the USA then B-1 / B-2 visa.

Who can use the automated passport control (APC)?

Please note that APC Terminals is only available to certain USA travelers. These include:

  • Travelers within the scope of the Visa Waiver Program VWP for short (= entry with ESTA)
  • Green Card holders:inside (=Legal Permanent Residents)
  • American nationals
  • Canadian citizens
  • Travelers entering the country on a B-1 / B-2 visa, C-1/D visa or D visa

This means that the APC program is reserved for persons entering the country without a US visa and for selected visa holders.

The automated entry is therefore not available to holders of a work visa. US visa holders who do not have a valid B-1 / B-2, C-1/D or D visa in their passport must therefore use the regular entry procedure and cannot use these new passport control points.

Mobiler check

If APC-exempt visa holders nevertheless attempt to enter the country through automated passport checkpoints, they may only receive anVisa Waiverstatus rather than receiving status based on their US visa.

An overview of US airports equipped with APC terminals can be found on the official website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mobile Passport Control (MPC) allows eligible travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration data via a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile device. For example, customs forms no longer need to be filled out by hand, but can be conveniently processed using a smartphone. Using MPC streamlines travelers' entry process into the United States by reducing passport control time and overall wait time.

Similar to Automated Passport Control (APC), the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) program is free to use and does not require prior authorization.

Travelers using an authorized MPC app from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no longer have to fill out a paper form or use an APC kiosk. This results in shorter waiting times, less congestion and more efficient processing.

The CBP Mobile Passport Control app is free and available for travelers to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Please note that CBP's MPC app is currently only available upon arrival at theWashington Dulles International Airport (IAD)will be used. However, the use will be expanded to other major U.S. airports and cruise ports in the future.

Alternatively, authorized apps include the Mobile Passport app from the provider Airside Mobile or the CLEAR Passport for CBP Mobile Passport Control app, which were developed in collaboration with CBP and are available for US and Canadian citizens.
These two apps can be used at many major US airports and cruise ports.
The use of these apps is also free of charge, but travelers have the option of paying for premium functions (e.g. scanning the machine readable zone (MRZ) of the passport or saving a traveler's profile). These additional functions are not required by CBP and CBP does not charge providers for them.

The processing of entry formalities via mobile devices& is currently reserved for US citizens and Canadian citizens traveling to the US on B-1 /B-2 visitor visas.

MPC is currently available at the 29 US international airports and 4 seaports of entry. More information can be found on the official website of the CBP.

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Updated on 28.07.2021