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NEWS Last modified on March 27, 2015

New app to aid passengers through the US customs and immigration process

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has become the third US gateway to introduce a mobile app designed to expedite passengers' journeys through the US arrivals process.

The Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app is part of a joint initiuative by the Port of Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma's operator – and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to speed up the processing of US and Canadian passengers.

“With the ever increasing number of international passengers coming to our region, we need these types of innovations to keep travellers happy and moving through our facility," says Sea-Tac's manager of international operations, Charles Goedken.

He notes that 
international long-haul traffic at Sea-Tac has increased nearly 80% and all international passenger traffic is up over 45% since 2009.

In additon to introducing the new app, the Port of Seattle is in the conceptual design phase of an expanded International Arrivals Facility (IAF) to replace the existing facility which dates back to the 1970s.

The MPC app currently offers US citizens and Canadian visitors a more secure and efficient in-person inspection between the CBP officer and the traveller upon arrival in the United States.

Much like Automated Passport Control (APC), the app does not require pre-approval, is free to use and does not collect any new information from travellers.

Accoridng to Sea-Tac, as a result, passengers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing.

It says the five easy steps to using MPC are:

• Download the Mobile Passport Control App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store prior to arriving

• Create a profile with your passport information

• Complete the 'New Trip' section upon arrival in the United States

• Submit your customs declaration form through the app to receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code.

• Bring your passport and smartphone or tablet with your digital bar-coded receipt to a CBP officer

“With the continued expansion of MPC, CBP is following through with our commitment to improving the international arrivals experience for travellers,” said assistant commissioner for office of field operations, Todd Owen.

“CBP remains committed to making a traveller’s entry into the United States as secure, paperless, and efficient as possible.”

The MPC pilot launched in August 2014 for eligible passemgers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and as of last month is available to passengers arriving at Miami International Airport.

MPC is expected to expand to more airports later this spring and CBP has committed to expand the programme to the 20 airports with the highest volumes of international passengers by the end of 2016.

This first-of-its-kind app was developed by ACI-NA and their vendor in partnership with CBP.

We’re very pleased to have Sea-Tac Airport come on board as the third airport to launch Mobile Passport,” said ACI-NA president and CEO Kevin Burke.

“Mobile Passport has had a fantastic response at Atlanta and Miami, which has significantly cut the time in the Customs line for thousands of eligible travellers entering the United States.

"We look forward to additional airports coming online throughout 2015.”

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Joe Bates

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