A female passenger using the Automated Passport Control kiosk. Image credit: YouTube
A female passenger using the Automated Passport Control kiosk.

A part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiative, Automated Passport Control (APC) is an expedited procedure to enter the States for American, Canadian and selected or eligible international travelers with the Visa Waiver Program. Made by SITA (airport IT solutions provider), APC kiosks are widespread across the States. The O’Hare Airport in Chicago was the first airport to incorporate APC in July, 2013. Besides English, travelers can use the kiosk in the languages: Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Korean, German, Dutch and Japanese.

Eligibility

Not every international traveler can benefit from APC. As aforementioned, American and Canadian citizens can avail APC. Citizens of the U.S. Visa Waiver member countries and travelers with ESTA rights are in too. Also, travelers must have been to the United States at least once after 2008.

Procedure

The APC kiosks are placed inside the airport’s passport control area. The kiosk prompts the user to answer multiple customs declaration questions. The questions are similar to the ones found on the traditional customs declaration form. After the interrogation is a passport scan. The passport must now be placed on an area below the kiosk touchscreen until it’s completely read by the machine.

The next stage is travel purpose declaration and a palm scan. Travelers aged above 79 years and below 14 years can skip the scan. Once the scan is successful, the kiosk camera takes the individual’s picture. The subsequent stages comprise confirming flight and biographic information. Once done, the traveler receives a printed machine-generated receipt to be presented along with the passport to a CBP officer at one of the designated checkout spots.

Benefits

  • Travelers using APC need not manually fill out customs declaration form.
  • The APC system makes the customs procedure convenient and faster, for both the traveler and the airport authorities.
  • APC is free and doesn’t need membership or pre-registration. It maintains traveler data confidentiality.