More Costa Ricans will get passports this year than last, thanks to efforts by the Immigration Administration to ease a cumbersome application process.
More than 100,000 Costa Ricans applied for and received passports through October, surpassing the 99,400 issued in all of 2006.
Immigration spokeswoman Heidy Bonilla said she expects authorities to issue about 20,000 more before the end of the year.
In past years, Costa Ricans have been able to apply for a passport only at the Immigration Administration’s central offices in downtown San José. Beginning in July, immigration authorities allowed people over 18 to apply in 30 Central Bank offices throughout the country. Costa Ricans can also now solicit passports in the ministry’s regional offices in the central Pacific city of Puntarenas and Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste.
“For the people who didn’t come here (to the central office) because of distance, laziness or the long lines, it’s now more viable to go to the bank’s offices,” Bonilla said. “What we call a ‘hidden demand’ is coming to light.”
Some 51,550 Costa Ricans applied for and received passports between July and October 2007, a more than 50% increase from the same period in 2006.
Besides allowing Ticos to leave the country, passports are required of employees at some workplaces, Bonilla said.