New banking requirements for foreign residents aim to combat money laundering

May 21, 2012

Starting July 1 foreign nationals will no longer be able to use their passports to open bank accounts or transfer funds between banks in Costa Rica.

After the beginning of July, foreigners will be required to present the Foreign person Identification Document (DIMEX)—a new identification card that will contain a 12-digit identification number for each cardholder and information about that person’s immigration status.

Security and Immigration officials announced the new requirements Monday at a press conference at the Ministry of Public Security.

Immigration Administration general director, Kathia Rodríguez, said obligatory use of the DIMEX card in banking transactions is an effort to put Costa Rica’s  “house in order” in terms of the immigration status of the roughly 382,000 foreign nationals currently in the country.

Besides consolidating identification and immigration status in one card, the new requirements will allow security officials to track bank transactions by foreigners in the country—a key step in combating money laundering.

It is a way to see “who does what in the banking system,” said Public Security Minister, Mario Zamora.

Carlos Meleguetti, Director of Financial Services at Banco Nacional said the DIMEX requirements will bring to the foreign population in Costa Rica the same oversight in financial transactions that Costa Rican citizens have had to follow for years. Ticos must present their cédulas (identification cards) to make banking transactions.

Costa Rica is classified as a “major money laundering country” by the United States Department of State in its 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

The Immigration Administration will issue DIMEX cards to foreigner residents, temporary residents and students who meet the requirements for residency. Current legal residents should contact Immigration to obtain their card.

See full story in Friday’s edition

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