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Mobile Passport Can Cut Time At SFO, San Jose Airport

Kim Wonderley
April 21, 2019 - 7:28 am

The last thing you want to do after coming home on an international flight is stand in an endless line at customs. But there is a free app that can considerably shorten that time. Kim Wonderley has the details in this week's Road Report.

The timesaver is called Mobile Passport and it's officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mobile Passport is free to download on iOS or Android smartphones. User set up profiles with passport information and a photo. Parents can set up profiles for each member of their family. 

After returning to the U.S., users skip the usual paperwork and answer the customs-related question on the app instead. The responses get submitted to Customs and Border Protection, which will generate a QR code that's valid for four hours. 

With that code, travelers can enter the mobile passport line, which should be a much shorter queue than the regular usual one. 


Mobile Passport is available at 26 airports, including San Francisco International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport. Oakland's airport is not part of the program, but passengers there can use Automated Passport Control, which are kiosks that work similarly. 

The Global Entry program, which requires travelers to submit to a vetting process and pay a $100 fee every five years, is another popular way to reduce the time spent in lines at airports. Even with Global Entry, flyers may still benefit from using Mobile Passport. With so many elite credit cards offering Global Entry as a perk, it has increased in popularity. With Mobile Passport at the ready, travelers can compare the dedicated lines and pick the shorter of the two.