By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Border Control Agency of Saint Lucia and Immigration Department of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, participated in the Customer Acceptance Test (CAT) during the week of June 20, 2022, the ministry of the public service noted, meantime, Saint Lucia is said to implement ePassport system in July amid initial concerns of increase cost from EC$80 to $250.
The said amplified increase is yet to be justified and/or explained by policymakers. A policy decision that has caught many Saint Lucians off guard, at a time when there are inherent delays in the issuance of passports at home and in the respective foreign embassies.
“Caribbean countries that have already begun issuing ePassports include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, and St Kitts and Nevis. Jamaica is set to launch its ePassport system in 2023”, added the ministry of the public service in a statement July 6, 2022. “In 2021 the government of Saint Lucia and the Canadian Bank Note Company Limited (CBN) entered into an agreement for the supply of ePassports and an ePassport Issuance and Control System solution.
“Immigration expert with the Saint Lucia Border Control Agency, Lucius Lake, commented on the significance of Canadian Bank Note company’s role in the ePassport system, which will replace the existing machine-readable passports, says that “the outgoing system was designed and implemented in 2007, and now provides the foundation for a seamless security upgrade to the ePassport system.”
Meanwhile, a Government Information Service (GIS) July 8, 2022, said:
“New Border Management system to facilitate paperless entry into Saint Lucia and the upcoming electronic Saint Lucian passports will mean a reduction in the use of physical travel documents.”
Immigration expert with the Saint Lucia Border Control Agency, Lucius Lake says the new passports are part of a Border Management System for Saint Lucia and aim to make travel more user-friendly.
“The intent now because we have a more functioning border management control system is to continue with the new ED card solution. The ED card, in its present state, exists where passengers on arrival in Saint Lucia present that ED card to the immigration officer who cross-checks the information against the passport and whatever other travel documents, and the declaration to customs. What this is intended to do is reduce the amount of paper that is used as compared to travelling to some of the first world countries, you will be able to go online in the not too distant future to complete your online ED card registration and customs declaration with a small health component into it. So it means paperless entry in terms of capturing our visitors coming in and the submissions of visitors or residents entering Saint Lucia.”
In addition, Lake elaborated on the health component of the Border Management System, stating:
“The system has the capability of working along with the recognized lab or institutions which grant or which can authenticate person’s COVID results. It has been done before, so it is a matter of replicating it and having it used in Saint Lucia.”