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In a week I'll be traveling from Europe to Santiago de Chile via Atlanta-Hartsfield (ATL). Does anyone have experience with the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks at ATL?

I have a relatively short layover and I'm wondering if it is quicker to use the kiosks than filling out the paper form and standing in line?

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The longest part of going through passport control, especially in a busy airport like ATL, is queuing. So eyeball the queue and how fast it's moving.

APC requires you to spend a minute or so at a machine which will print a piece of paper, then show that piece of paper to an officer, so you'll queue twice; but the queues may well be significantly shorter. Each officer handles many more people per hour in the APC lane than in the general foreigner lane, mostly because the general foreigner lane also has people with complex visas. It's possible (but not guaranteed of course) that the officer in the APC lane will ask fewer questions. On the other hand there are probably far fewer officers assigned to the APC lane. So while APC is likely to be faster, the only general answer is that it depends.

Note that you're eligible for APC only if you're a US or Canadian citizen, or you have a visa waiver with an ESTA. If you have an ESTA then you must have visited the US at least once since 2008 (I think that's when they started the current program of taking all fingerprints), otherwise you need to go through the manual lane.

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First, the use of the APC kiosk does not mean you will not see the CBP officer, you will still have to see an officer at a booth, it just saves the time by making the job easier for you and for the officer, basically by making you help the officer in doing some of the job (scanning the passport, taking the photograph, etc.).

Hence, the above made the waiting times shorter since the CBP officers can process more application in less time. From the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport website:

APC is a self-service kiosk that allows passengers to submit their declaration and biographic information electronically and reduce the time they spend with a CBP officer. This has resulted in an average 20-40% decrease in wait times at airports that use APC kiosks.

So, to answer your question, using the APC kiosk will make the whole process easier and shorter, for you and for everyone else.

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APC is pointless in my opinion. I was in transit through Fort Worth airport 2 days ago and had to queue for ages for an APC kiosk (only half were working) then I had to queue for ages again for a rude CPB officer who took my photo and fingerprints again!
APC seems pointless.

  • It sounds like you used a kiosk that claimed to be working but actually wasn't. When they are working, it is a really nice system. – Michael Hampton Apr 11 '16 at 18:50

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