Costa Rica’s immigration office has officially released the country’s new Biometric Bicentennial Passport booklet. The new documents were available as of March 7, and can be obtained through the Post Office and at Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) offices. The DGME is the immigration authority spearheading the release of the document.
In the future, Costa Rican citizens will also be able to apply for a passport at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) branch locations. BCR was supposed to open applications alongside other stakeholders on March 7, but has delayed the service until at least March 11, citing concerns about the new passport system. The financial institution has indicated that it will resume the service once it is convinced that the new system is up and running smoothly.
The DGME, meanwhile, is confident that its new document is more secure than its predecessor. The new passport comes with a slew of modern security features, including holograms, a polycarbonate data page, a 3D drawing, and laser engraving. It also comes with a built-in chip that stores the user’s personal and biometric data. On that front, Costa Rica will capture the fingerprints of anyone over the age of 18 when issuing the documents, which should guard against identity theft and make it easier to verify the identity of a document’s true owner.
The new passports will be valid for a full 10-year period, so they will not need to be replaced as often as the old documents, which were only valid for six years. However, the old passports are still valid until they expire, and the DGME is encouraging people to wait until that point to apply for a new one to prevent a potential backlog. The Migratory Document System being used to process requests was trialed from February 23 through March 1, and will issue passports within 48 hours. It replaces a 10-year-old Passport System that was deactivated on March 2.
Costa Rica is one of several countries working to update its passport technology. Barbados is in the process of issuing new documents after becoming a republic, while Dominica is asking citizens to switch to an e-passport before the end of August. The global e-passport market is expected to hit $125.13 billion in 2028.
March 10, 2022 – by Eric Weiss