Border Patrol to allow electronic customs documents

Some international airline passengers will soon be able to file their customs documents electronically on flights that are entering the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency announced on Monday. 

The agency unveiled plans on Monday to offer a Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app for Apple iPhones and iPads that will enable passengers to forgo traditional paper applications for entry into the U.S. 

The agency said the app would only be available for use initially on flights that are arriving at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — and only for Apple electronics users.

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However, the agency said it plans to expand the electronic passport document service to other airports, and Android phones and tablets later this year.

“We are strongly committed to the facilitation of travel and tourism to the United States, all while maintaining the highest security standards in the world,” Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Mobile Passport Control is an important step and one that we think the traveling public will embrace.”

The mobile customs document application is scheduled to become available on Aug. 13.

The announcement of the electronic filing system was cheered by the group that lobbies for airports in Washington, which has clamored for changes to the speed up the customs process at U.S. airports.

“Mobile Passport exemplifies the forward-thinking commitment CBP and airports have to improving the passenger experience when entering the United States,” Airports Council International-North America President Kevin Burke said in a statement.

“This partnership between CBP and ACI-NA also represents an outstanding example of industry and government working together to find smart, cost-effective solutions," Burke continued. "We look forward to continuing our collaboration with CBP as Mobile Passport begins its roll-out at U.S. airports later this year.”