Every so often, I’ll read or hear about some service or product that’s been available for a while and totally skipped my radar. I’d be surprised if I’m the only frequent traveler this happens to! Just last week, I read about the not-so-new Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app that’s available for iOS and Android phones and tablets. Back in the summer 2014, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched the first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s entry process into the United States.
MPC allows eligible travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via a smartphone or tablet prior to CBP inspection. This first-of-its-kind app was developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in partnership with CBP. They piloted the program at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and it’s now available at 24 airports and one cruise port.
Current Mobile Passport locations, as of 11/19/2017. Image source: https://mobilepassport.us/
Buenos días everyone. Before I arrived at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on Saturday evening, I was a bit irritated when the flight crew announced that they did not have customs forms on board. After I cleared immigration and proceeded to baggage claim in the customs hall, I was confused because I couldn’t find any blank forms anywhere. That confusion turned into surprise when I approached an American Airlines baggage agent and was told “We don’t use those anymore.” Sure enough, when I went up to the customs agent, she just asked me if I had anything to declare and told me to push the red button – thankfully the light turned green. Continue reading →
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for many in the United States, particularly foreign visitors and green card holders. As a US citizen living abroad with a Mexican partner, the unpredictability of recent immigration policy changes (and the actions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials) plus the repeated demonization of immigrants and Mexicans is scary. Here are some thoughts I have on things to be aware of and ways to keep yourself safe.
All Travelers Entering the United States from Abroad
ACLU Know Your Rights Guide. Screenshot from aclu.org
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has aKnow Your Rights guide about encountering law enforcement at airports and other US ports of entry. The short version is this: if you’re a US citizen, you have the right to not answer questions or to speak to an attorney, but doing so will likely mean you have a bad day. Green card and visa holders may be denied entry for refusing to answer questions or comply with the requests of agents, and often do not have the right to speak to an attorney unless arrested. I am not a lawyer, but my recommendation in most cases is to answer questions truthfully and succinctly, providing only the information requested without unnecessary detail. Continue reading →
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