Starting by July 1, travelers with U.S. passports entering the country at O'Hare International Airport will be able to clear customs faster by using an automated kiosk instead of filling out a paper declaration card, the Chicago Department of Aviation announced Tuesday.
O'Hare will be the first U.S. airport to implement the Automated Passport Control computer program, which was developed by the Vancouver Airport Authority and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, officials said.
The self-service kiosks debuted at Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday. The goal of the program is to help travelers move more quickly through the U.S. border clearance process, officials said.
Chicago's Aviation Department plans to install 32 kiosks at O'Hare's international terminal by July 1, officials said.
Upon deplaning, U.S. passport-holders will be able to proceed directly to the kiosks and answer a series of questions on a touch screen, officials said. A receipt will be issued, and the traveler will take the receipt and his or her passport and airline boarding pass to a Customs and Border Protection officer for verification, officials said.
Personal data entered into the computer system will be handled securely, officials said.
Long waits to clear customs rank among international travelers' major complaints about O'Hare. When several large planes from overseas land at the airport about the same time, it can take more than two hours for authorities to process the hundreds of arriving passengers packed into the customs hall at International Terminal 5.
The automated system is similar in some ways to the U.S. Global Entry program for frequent flyers who have gone through a pre-screening application that determines the passengers pose a low security risk, officials said. But the new kiosk-based system does not require advance registration, and unlike U.S. Global Entry, it is free.