CHICAGO - Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announced today that Chicago O'Hare International Airport will be first in country to launch the innovative program, Automated Passport Control (APC) which is now available for passengers at Terminal 5. APC is designed to help travelers move more quickly through the U.S. border clearance process by entering information at a self-service kiosk.

"This technology reinforces Chicago's leading position as a world-class destination for business and leisure travelers while spurring economic growth and smartly improving our nation's security," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "I am very grateful for the dedicated leadership of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection in strengthening Chicago O'Hare as an international gateway and placing Terminal 5 at the forefront in innovative efficiency. While I am profoundly proud of our work and partnership with Secretary Napolitano and CBP officials, efficiencies and technology alone won't keep our airports at the forefront globally. I commend and echo Senators Durbin and Kirk and Congressman Quigley for making funding for increased CBP officers a priority and look to Members of Congress to follow their leadership."

APC began operating July 1, 2013 and can be used by all U.S. passport holders arriving at O'Hare's International Terminal 5. APC is a free service and does not require pre-registration or membership. The CDA collaborated with CBP and its airline partners to install 32 APC kiosks.

"At the Department of Homeland Security, we take seriously our commitment to ensuring the safety and security of passengers coming to and traveling throughout the U.S., while at the same time, helping to facilitate and expedite lawful travel, trade and tourism," said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. "Collaboration with our partners, like the Chicago Department of Aviation, is integral to our mission, and ensures that travel is not only safe and secure, but also efficient."

The use of APC has dramatically changed the passenger experience in the Customs Area. During the first 40 days of use, the average wait time during peak hours has been reduced by 16 minutes or 33 percent, while the number of passengers waiting over 60 minutes has reduced by 58 percent.

Automated Passport Control increases efficiency during CBP processing by transferring data collection duties to passengers who enter their information using a self-service kiosk. By removing the administrative responsibilities for a CBP officer to scan a traveler's passport and verify their paper Customs declaration, the time spent with a CBP officer is greatly reduced.

How APC works:

Passengers who are eligible (only U.S. passport holders at this time) can proceed directly to a self-service kiosk in the passport control area and no longer need to fill out a paper Customs declaration form. Travelers will be prompted to scan their passport, take a photograph using the kiosk and, answer a series of questions verifying biographic and flight information, as well as to fill out their Customs declaration using the touch screen on the kiosk. Once passengers have completed the series of questions, a receipt will be issued. Travelers then bring their passport and receipt to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the U.S. APC is easy to use and maintains the highest levels of protection when it comes to the handling of personal data or information.

"I want to thank CBP and our airline partners for working with the CDA to bring this new technology and better customer experience to O'Hare," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. "Passengers arriving at O'Hare Terminal 5 will experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing because of this innovative program."

"By continuing to streamline the CBP process and provide a high quality visitor experience for the millions of international passengers and returning U.S. citizens," said Milton G. Uribe, Chairman, O'Hare Airline Managers Association (OAMA). "Chicago O'Hare will have the necessary resources in place to keep pace with the expected growth in international travel in the years to come."

"The APC program is another example of how the CDA is striving to create a ‘best in class' experience for travelers at O'Hare International Airport," said Andolino. "We are making Chicago a more attractive destination and O'Hare airport an industry leader by implementing innovative services, technology and sustainability initiatives, as well as raising the bar for dining and shopping with award winning restaurants and exciting new retail concepts."

APC was developed by Vancouver Airport Authority and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Vancouver Airport Authority signed a Letter of Intent with the Chicago Department of Aviation to provide software technology and self-service kiosks to O'Hare International Airport.

With the addition of APC, O'Hare will now offer four CBP processing options for travelers. The others are 1-Stop, for those entering the U.S. without checked luggage; Global Entry and the regular CBP lanes.