The immigration department plans to install electronic readers at another ground border entry post after a successful trial with 2,516 residents who returned to Costa Rica from Nicaragua over the holidays.
The system allows those with valid cédulas of residency to enter the country simply by showing the pocket card and providing a scan of a fingerprint. Immigration officials will determine that the cédula belongs to the person presenting it and that the fingerprint matches the one on file.
The system will expedite the flow of legal residents particularly in the case of the thousands who travel back and forth for the holidays in Nicaragua.
The Dirección General de Migración said that the system would be put in place at Paso Canoas on the Panamá border by the end of the year and that the system would be tested at international airport arrival posts.
As part of the application process for residency, foreigners have to register their fingerprint with immigration and the digital image is encoded on the cédula.
Those with valid residency cédulas will not have to present their passports, said immigration. The $42,000 project interfaces with the CARDEX system that immigration uses to keep records of foreigners. The Spanish Agencia de Cooperación Internacional de Desarrollo financed the new system with oversight from the International Organization for Migration.
Border crossings at holiday season always have been difficult because of the great number of Nicaraguans using the northern exit to return to families for the holidays. The return a few days later is equally taxing. There are about 600,000 legal Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, according to government figures.