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Fingerprinting Bali's Visitors

Lines at Airport Expected to Grow as Bali Introduces Fingerprinting of Tourist Visitors.

(4/17/2010) The Jakarta Globe carries the news that visitors to Bali can now expect yet another delay in the notoriously long lines at customs and immigration at Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport with the introduction of a mandatory fingerprinting for tourist visitors.

The head of immigration's sub directorate for Information-systems, Rohadi Iman Santoso, has announced the new requirement to be introduced at Bali's airport, with subsequent implementation planned at all international gateways in Indonesia.

The fingerprinting, carried out with ink-less electronic fingerprint readers, will only be required for those using short-stay visas. Foreigners who have permanent or temporary stay permits and who have already been fingerprinted in the process of obtaining their residency in Indonesia are exempted from the new requirement. Children under the age of 14 and those traveling on diplomatic passports are also exempted from the requirement.

Rohadi also announced that tourist visitors would also be photographed using a system that completes the process in 2 minutes.

Rohadi acknowledged that the new requirement will add to the delay for those processing through Bali's immigration and customs process. Only 10 of the 23 immigration counters at the airport will be initially equipped with the fingerprint scanner.

The system will be introduced nation-wide by July 2010 with scanners then in place at 21 airports, five seaports and at the border-crossing between Malaysia and Indonesia at Entikong. The trial introduction now underway is fingerprinting visitors arriving in Bali, Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Solo.

The immigration department has apparently seen little need to socialize the new fingerprinting system with Surya Dharma, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Ngurah Wijaya, the head of the Bali Tourism Board, claiming no knowledge of the new system.

Biometric screening procedures are already in effect in a number of countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the United States.