San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Immigration Proposes Taking Tourists’ Prints

The JuanSantamaríaAirport could soon have fingerprinting machines that take visitors’ thumbprints upon entry into the country.

Immigration Director Mario Zamora said the proposed system – which would combine a digital photo, an electronic passport seal and a digital thumbprint – would help combat the black market for stolen tourist passports, sold for use by third parties to apply for residency.

“The interesting thing about this is that there cannot be a seal without a photo” or a thumbprint, Zamora said, which would make altering the passport useless.

Costa Rica has one of the highest rates of passport theft in the world, and the documents can sell for thousands of dollars on the black market.

If the pilot program at Juan Santamaría is a success, Immigration would turn to using the system at all international airports and border crossings, Zamora said.

For now, however, it remains to be seen whether the pilot project will ever get going.

Zamora said the government has no money for the project and is seeking financing from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.


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