Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Not that we can travel to many places outside the country right now, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, but if you DO leave the country, getting through customs and border screenings on your return is now easier in Minnesota.

Ah, yes. International travel. Remember-- in the Before Times-- when we were able to do such a thing? I was lucky. We took an amazing trip to Europe where we visited Barcelona, Spain; plus Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast in Italy, all back in September of 2019, just a few months before the coronavirus hit and shut everything down.

Going through the various customs screenings at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP) on our return trip wasn't too involved and didn't take too long, at least compared to other times I'd gone through customs at other airports, like in Atlanta. But now it's even easier here in Minnesota.

That's because U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has now installed new facial recognition technology at its checkpoints at MSP. In a release last week, CBP said a process called 'Simplified Arrival' is now in place for international travelers arriving here in Minnesota.

"Simplified Arrival is an enhanced international arrival process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. Facial biometrics provide travelers with a touchless process that further secures and streamlines international arrivals," CBP said in the release.

If I understand the process correctly, CBP's Simplified Arrival is a process that takes a picture of you at the security checkpoint and compares it to images you've already provided to customs officials (like a passport or visa photo.) The release said it was first introduced in 2018 and has already been used by 60 million travelers-- and has apprehended 350 imposters from illegally entering the United States. (And, yes, CPB said you CAN opt out of the process, if you want, and go through customs screenings using the longer, old-school way.)

I think it's a great idea, mainly because I'm for anything that will make going through any screenings at the airport quicker and less intrusive. Now, if we can just get this whole coronavirus thing taken care of so we can actually travel places again, right!?

You can, of course still travel just about anywhere here in the good 'ol U.S. of A, even while we're still battling the pandemic. And there are some pretty cool places to explore right here on our own soil. Keep scrolling to check out the most popular historic sites in America!

Listen to Curt St. John from 6 to 10 a.m. on Quick Country 96.5
and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 103.9 The Doc

LET'S GO: The most popular historic sites in America