Published: Oct 10, 2022, Updated: Oct 10, 2022
In their ongoing efforts to better manage the increasing numbers of travelers at U.S. airports, CBP and airport authorities collaborated a few years ago to launch the APC (Automated Passport Control) program. This innovative technology aims to expedite the traveler inspection process by providing Automated Passport Control (APC) self-service kiosks where passengers can submit their biographic information and customs declaration electronically. Since the program was introduced in May 2013 it has helped to bring about a 20% to 40% reduction in waiting times.
The main objective of the APC system is to boost the productivity of CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers by shifting a number of the necessary but routine data collection functions to passengers at a time when they would otherwise be standing in long queues waiting to be served. Since the lines at the APC kiosks are typically significantly shorter, travelers can be processed faster and be on their way sooner.
Apart from that, by reducing the workload of CBP officers, the APC kiosks are able to free them up for other duties. These kiosks are not complicated to use, they don’t require the payment of any membership fees, and there is no preregistration involved in the process. Another benefit is that the user does not have to complete a declaration form since all the necessary questions are covered by the kiosk’s electronic system.
APC or Automated Passport Control is a program run by the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) government agency. It aims to speed up the entry process for the following groups of people:
APC does this by automating the process through Custom and Border Protection’s primary inspection area. Travelers are able to use self-service kiosks where they submit biographic data and reply to questions.
Please take note of the following: There are no costs involved. APC also does not require you to join any program and neither does it require pre-registration. As far as the handling of personal information/data is concerned, it adheres to very high standards of protection. Travelers who use APC enjoy reduced waiting times, faster processing, and less congestion.
Wherever the APC system has been employed, eligible passengers can go straight to the APC kiosks in the airport’s passport control area instead of having to fill out a printed customs declaration form. Once at the kiosk, the traveler will be asked to take his photograph, scan his or her passport, and answer a couple of questions related to CBP in order to verify their flight and biographic information.
As soon as a passenger has completed this process, they will be issued with a receipt. He or she can then take the receipt together with their passport to a CBP officer for the final stage of the inspection before being given the go-ahead to enter the United States.
The APC kiosks allow a group of individuals who reside at the same address to be processed at the same time.
The following U.S. airports currently feature APC kiosks. More are expected to be added in the future:
To get started, an eligible traveler has to activate the screen and choose their type of travel document. The next step is to scan this document and select a reason why they are traveling to the United States. After that. they have to take their fingerprints and a photo of themselves and answer a couple of declaration questions. The system then transmits this information to CBP where a standard risk assessment is carried out. Once that has been done, the machine will print a receipt.
As soon as a traveler is finished at the APC kiosk, he or she should take their travel document, printed receipt, and boarding pass (where applicable) to a CBP officer who will verify everything before giving final clearance.
Citizens and legal permanent residents of the United States, citizens of Canada, participants of an eligible VWP (Visa Waiver Program), and travelers who enter the U.S. with a D, C1/D, or B1/B2 visa are allowed to use APC kiosks.
Yes, these travelers are allowed to use APC and will pass via a similar APC kiosk procedure as set out above. They will, however, have to go through a somewhat different fingerprint and photo capture process. It has to be noted at this stage that ESTA visitors are only allowed to remain in the United States for 90 days or less.
No, that is not necessary. A traveler will be able to electronically answer these questions during his or her visit to the APC kiosk. Afterward, this information will be verbally verified by a CBP officer. If you have already completed a CBP declaration form and the CBP officer informs you that this is no longer needed, ask the officer to shred the form.
The following languages are currently available at APC kiosks: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Korean, Chinese (simplified/traditional), German, and Japanese.
Below is a list of the preconditions required for successful processing at an APC kiosk:
A. Yes. No personal data is stored by the APC system. Travelers’ answers to the declaration questions and their travel document info are sent between the kiosk and the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) through a secure system that uses high-level encryption protocols similar to the way it is done when information is submitted by a CBP officer from one of the booths.
A. A traveler’s photo has to be taken to enable the DVO (Document Verification Officer) to confirm that the declaration receipt is for the same individual who used the APC kiosk and that the photo on the receipt and the travel document match. In the case of Visa Waiver Program travelers who hold a valid ESTA and who are re-entering the United States, the photo is necessary to keep the U.S. Visit program that is monitored by the CBP up to date.
A. No, that will not be possible. Travelers with such a temporary extension will have to be processed by a CBP officer at one of the booths.
A. No, that is not possible. When the MRZ (machine-readable zone) of the LPR card is scanned, the machine cannot read the content within the string. In this case, and also in the case of expired cards, the kiosk will request the user to go to a CBP booth.
A. Generally speaking it should be possible to process damaged travel documents, provided that the two lines of code that appear at the bottom of the main page remain readable.
A. Try scanning it again, or go to a different kiosk. If the issue persists, do the following: