The Need for Speed: Caripass

Tired of waiting in line at airports? Regional travellers can bypass the queue, thanks to Caripass. James Fuller checks it out


No more waiting in immigration queues, and hassle-free entry and exit from Caricom countries. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, that’s the aim of the Caricom Travel Card, or Caripass. The scheme is intended to speed up the flow of regional travellers through immigration checkpoints, thanks to special self-service electronic gates. With their cards, travellers will be able to bypass those lengthy lines at airports, and eventually sea ports, and go straight to baggage claim and customs halls.

“It’s a swipe-and-go technology, approved by the Caricom heads of government, which will mean the regional traveller will soon have an option to avoid waiting in long immigration lines,” explains Lynne Anne Williams, executive director of the Caricom Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (Impacs). Impacs was established in July 2006 to develop, implement, manage and monitor strategies and projects that fall under Caricom’s crime and security agenda. So it’s the lead agency in developing Caripass.

“Caripass is credit-card-sized for portability and convenience. It is a secure, counterfeit-proof travel document, which contains both biometric and biographic data, so only the registered cardholder will be able to use it,” adds Williams.

“This document will facilitate direct travel only through the Caricom region and is not intended to compete with the Caricom passport issued by member states, which is still required for extra-regional travel.”
 

Caripass is voluntary, and you can apply for either a one- or three-year card. There will be a non-refundable processing fee, which should be in the region of US$150 for one year and US$250 for three years. Caripass cards will be issued at national passport and immigration offices, among other places.

The system, which was approved in July 2008, is scheduled to be up and running by late 2009.

Williams says Impacs and Caricom stakeholders are excited about the travel card and its potential benefits to the region.

“Everyone who is eligible should get a Caripass,” she says. “It’s all about convenience.”

For more information: www.caripass.org
 

How do I get one?
 

To be eligible for a Caripass you need to:

•    be over 16;
•    have a valid passport, security clearances, authentic documents, etc;
•    be a Caricom national of one or more participating states; or
•    a non-Caricom national, with legal resident status in one or more of the participating states who does not require a visa to enter any of the participating states.

 

Where can I use it?

Antigua and Barbuda
Barbados
Dominica
Grenada
Guyana
Jamaica
St Lucia
St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
 
These countries took part in Cricket World Cup 2007, for which there were special security arrangements. So they already have the equipment they need to launch Caripass. It’s anticipated that Caricom will eventually be expanded to all Caricom states.