As we head into one of the busiest travel periods of the calendar year, I want to take a moment to share some of what DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is doing to ensure the security of the homeland this holiday season and for many more to come. Through the Apex Air Entry/Exit Re-engineering (AEER) program, S&T is working hand-in-glove with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on a range of initiatives to transform the international arrivals process at U.S. air ports of entry and support the National Travel and Tourism Strategy.
One of these initiatives, Mobile Passport Control (MPC), allows travelers equipped with a smartphone to digitally submit their customs declaration (Form 6059B) and biographic data to CBP before reaching the inspection booth at a U.S. international airport. This new capability allows travelers to avoid using handwritten paper forms, eliminates some time-consuming administrative tasks performed by the officer, enhances overall security, and provides a more efficient inspection while reducing processing times.
I’m excited to announce that on December 15th CBP released MPC business requirements, developed in close partnership with S&T, to the air travel industry. Whereas MPC had been in a pilot phase at select international airports around the country, the release of standardized business requirements means airlines, airports, and other travel industry stakeholders can build an MPC capability into their apps and significantly increase adoption among eligible travelers. Travelers not yet eligible for MPC will continue to use the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks and submit their biometrics to CBP prior to admittance to the United States.
Speaking of biometrics, through the Apex AEER program, S&T has examined over a hundred biometric devices through market surveys, industry engagements, and rigorous testing at our very own Maryland Test Facility to develop operational concepts potentially suitable for CBP in the airport environment. With the help of more than 1,300 consenting volunteers ranging from 18 to 81 years old and representing over 40 countries of origin, S&T is taking a holistic approach to technical performance, processing time, traveler throughput, as well as impact to operations, cost, and quality of the traveler experience.
Leveraging this vast body of knowledge and its partnerships with private industry, S&T will continue to work closely with CBP to further streamline and enhance the security of programs like MPC, APC, and Global Entry while also exploring new and innovative uses of biometric and other technologies to better secure the homeland.
I am proud of the work we are doing to protect what matters most – our families, our communities, and our nation. Whether you are traveling or staying nearby, I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology