Ease of travel within Caribbean Community

Ten Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will from next year issue automated smart cards with biometric and biographic data allowing frequent and even regular travelers expedited passage through airport immigration facilities within the region, officials announced last week.

The CARIPASS cards, aimed at harmonizing travel throughout the region, will eliminate the need for traditional passports, but will bear the same personal information and photographs.

Travelers would however, still have to carry passports in the event of onward travel to a third destination outside the region where the cards are not yet accepted, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said in an announcement.

Authorities are now installing the special high-tech machines at airports in several countries that will allow a passenger to swipe cards after checking in with airlines and make their way straight through immigration, rather than joining winding queues that are common during summer and winter peak travel.

Participating countries first have to seek approval from their legislatures before the new system takes effect.

“CARIPASS is another step in the movement towards standardized border control facilities within CARICOM,” the secretariat noted. “Cardholders will benefit from the ease of expedited processing through immigration checkpoints when using the pass, which is the size of a credit card. Cards can be valid for a period of one to three years.”

Immediate participants are Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad. Suriname, Haiti, the Bahamas, Belize and Montserrat are scheduled to join later.

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