International travelers must go through customs and immigration upon their return to the United States. This is usually done after landing. However, many airports offer pre-clearance where you can complete these formalities prior to your flight. These include airports in Aruba and Canada, Ireland, and the Bahamas. No matter where you are, there are many […]

International travelers must go through customs and immigration upon their return to the United States. This is usually done after landing. However, many airports offer pre-clearance where you can complete these formalities prior to your flight. These include airports in Aruba and Canada, Ireland, and the Bahamas.

No matter where you are, there are many options for travelers depending on where they live. Global Entry, a federal Trusted Traveler program that is available to pre-approved members who have completed a screening process, is one example. Mobile Passport is another option that allows you to answer your immigration questions once you land, but before you reach the immigration checkpoint.

Both can be done quickly, depending on where you are located and the lines. However, there are key differences between Global Entry and Mobile Passport. This guide will help you understand the differences between them, how to choose which one suits you best, and why it might make sense for you to have both.

What is the difference between Mobile Passports and Global Entry?

Global Entry and Mobile Passport can be used to expedite the process of applying for immigration. Here’s how they differ.

  • Mobile Passport can be used for free. After the Mobile Passport Control app has been installed on your mobile device users can complete customs declaration forms upon arrival at the entry point. The MPC app stores this information in a QR code which passengers can scan when they arrive at the entry point. Instead of screening passengers as Global Entry does, the MPC app expedites the formalities. Mobile Passport is managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

  • Global Entry is also managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. Before being approved, Global Entry requires a thorough background check and an interview appointment. This program is not open to everyone. This program is for low-risk travelers. It requires a $100 application fee to be eligible for a five year membership.

These are the key differences between Mobile Passport and Global Entry.

Mobile Passport

Global Entry

There are limited access to expedited immigration lines at some airports.

Get expedited immigration screenings at increasing numbers of airports when you re-enter the U.S.

$100 for five-years, but credit cards offer a credit to help cover the cost.

Application process

Long application and interview process, which includes a federal background check.

How Global Entry works

Global Entry requires that you pass a background check to verify your low-risk status. After completing an extensive application form that includes personal and background information, you will be granted Global Entry. Next, you will need to visit an enrollment center to have your fingerprints taken, an ID checked, and interviewed. Once you are approved, you will be issued a PASSID by the government (the same as a KTN or “Known Traveler Number”) which you will need for airline reservations.

You can add your KTN to your frequent flyer account, which will automatically include it when you make future bookings with the airline. Your KTN can be added to individual airline tickets. Global Entry kiosks are available at 75 airports currently.

TSA PreCheck access is available for domestic travel through Global Entry. This can make your experience at the U.S. airports more pleasant. TSA PreCheck status allows you to leave your belt and shoes at domestic security checkpoints and bring your laptop and liquids with you.


Global Entry is recommended first, as it includes TSA PreCheck. It is illegal to do the opposite. TSA PreCheck approval does not include global entry membership. If you apply for Global Entry membership after TSA PreCheck, you will need to pay an additional application fee.

What Mobile Passport does

Mobile Passport is a popular choice for frequent travelers who fly into airports that offer dedicated Mobile Passport lanes. It’s free. The application is not lengthy. It doesn’t require renewal or an in-person interview. It doesn’t require you to share personal data or undergo a background check.

It is important to consider the time required to apply for Global Entry and be approved. It may not be worth spending several hours to get approved for Global Entry. Mobile Passport lines can be as quick and easy (and often free) than traditional immigration lines. Mobile Passport is currently offered at 38 airports, land border, and cruise ports.

Global Entry vs. Mobile Passport cost

Global Entry: $100 (including TSA precheck)

Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck. This expedites processing at Canada and Mexico’s borders, and adds tremendous value for a small cost.

Mobile Passport: Free

Download this free mobile app to use when you arrive by cruise ship, plane or other means at selected international U.S. gateways.

The pros and cons of Global Entry, Mobile Passport

Global Entry

Global Entry is the best option for frequent travelers because it includes TSA PreCheck. The right credit card can help you save money by allowing you to expedite your immigration process and enjoy TSA PreCheck domestic airport security benefits. The only thing that may cost these travelers is the effort and time it takes to apply. For the occasional international traveler it may not be worth it, but for those who fly enough often each year it can save you a lot of time.

Global Entry is available to anyone who is not a U.S citizen. Global Entry is also available to lawful permanent residents of the United States and Mexican nationals. The following countries also have citizens that are eligible to apply:

Countries eligible to Global Entry

  • Argentina.

  • The Netherlands.

  • Singapore.

  • South Korea.

  • Switzerland.

  • United Kingdom.

It is also difficult to secure a Global Entry interview appointment because there are only a few places you can apply. These include major airports and U.S. Customs and Border Protection office.

Mobile Passport

This service is much easier than other services, as you only need to download the app. Additionally, you don’t need to fill out an application or meet in person to access this service.

There are less Mobile Passport queues available than Global Entry and they may not be open. The lines can be as short as five minutes and are as fast as Global Entry when they are open. Passengers must wait in the regular queue if they are not available.

Global Entry users may also choose to use the Mobile Passport app in case of a long line at Global Entry.

Considerations for both programs


Travelers may not wish to provide more personal information, such as fingerprints or photos. Mobile Passport doesn’t require you to divulge as much personal information.

Children and travel companions

Global Entry must be signed up by each child individually. They can’t join parents who have been approved. Mobile Passport is available to children just as adults. It takes only a few minutes for the app’s questions to be completed. The MPC app allows up to 12 people to submit one profile.

Traveling with others may mean that you will have to wait for them in baggage claim if they don’t have Global Entry. This could potentially erase any time saved. Mobile Passport makes this less likely.

Non-refundable fees

Global Entry’s application fee is non-refundable. You will not receive your money back if you are denied. It’s easier to get your money back if you applied with a credit card. Mobile Passport is however free.

Do I need a Global Entry or Mobile Passport to enter the United States?

Global Entry is the better option for frequent travelers, especially if you are traveling internationally. It’s easy to see why Global Entry is a better choice than waiting in line. Credit cards may be able to reimburse the expense, even if it comes at a cost. Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck. It is a time-saver for frequent flyers.

Mobile Passport is free and easy to use for less frequent flyers. Mobile Passport lanes may not be as popular as Global Entry facilities and can sometimes be closed.

While the decision of the traveler will be different, those who are willing to invest the time for Global Entry will find it worthwhile.

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