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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Beyond the ‘marbete’

“Starting today, digital vehicle registration is a reality on our island,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said. “This puts an end to placing the sticker on the car’s windshield.” (Richard Gutiérrez/The San Juan Daily Star)

New digital vehicle registration tech eliminates the traditional separate inspection sticker

By Richard Gutiérrez

As civilization moves away from paper, the more technology advances. The more people connect to the internet and use their smart devices, the less need for paperwork. Digitalization can be quite efficient in some cases; instead of having an entire file cabinet for important documents, people can store all types of data in their smartphones.

Now in Puerto Rico, that document file will include drivers’ vehicle registration, because on Tuesday Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced that starting now, citizens will be able to complete their vehicle registration through the “CESCO Digital” app.

“We all know the great emphasis we are putting on the usage of technology to benefit our people,” the governor said at a press conference in San Juan. “With it we are achieving governmental efficiency and access to all services in an agile and convenient way.”

“Starting today, digital vehicle registration (better known as “marbete digital” in Spanish) is a reality on our island. This puts an end to placing the sticker on the car’s windshield,” Pierluisi added. “The process is already available through the transportation department application CESCO digital, and starting September 1st it will be a virtual transaction; however, this process will also be available traditionally for those who desire it that way.”

The governor said the new digital option “is yet another example of the government working for you, for the people.”

“Everyone can count on my administration to continue moving forward with different processes of digitizing services so that every one of our citizens has a government that responds and works,” he stated.

“The digital transformation of the government is real and has an exponential impact on the quality of life of our citizens, reducing the time invested in governmental errands by 80%,” Pierluisi noted. “This will be a transaction that is accessible to 100% of all citizens, which eliminates the lack-of-storage issue, reduces the cost of printing and distribution, reduces long lines at the Treasury Department, reduces the transactions at the [Driver Services] headquarters (CESCO) and combats fraudulent activities.”

After touting the successes of the CESCO digital app, the governor proceeded to explain how the new system works.

“Every year, people had to change their car [inspection] sticker on the windshield,” he said. “Not anymore. We are now offering both services in a single seal, the toll seal will be used for the same purpose as car registrations. Even though it’s only one sticker, services will be offered separately -- one doesn’t depend on the other.”

The governor also described how driving fines will be handled with the new system.

“The police will continue to manage driving fines as normal, with the exception that this time they will use a device specifically to add fines digitally,” he said. “Our police force is currently being instructed on how to use these devices; not just state police, but also municipal police offices will be instructed on how to use this new system.”

The process for new vehicle registration has three phases: 1) Validation or registration on smart devices or computers with CESCO Digital, starting Aug. 1, 2023; 2) renewal for all vehicles except cargo vehicles and all-terrain vehicles starting Sept. 1, 2023; while 3) registration renewal for heavy vehicles will begin on Dec. 1.

The governor said the integration of information systems from different agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Office of Innovation and Technology Services (PRITS), The Treasury Department, the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, the Automobile Accidents Compensation Administration and the Compulsory Insurance Association, allows the government to provide quicker and better access services for all.

When the STAR asked the governor about how inclusive the new system would be in terms of people who don’t have the ability to handle smart devices or computers properly, he said, “It is precisely because we know that there are people who don’t have the ability to manage technology that we are providing the option to access one of the transportation department centers to do the process traditionally.”

Regarding people who don’t have internet access, Pierluisi took the opportunity to talk about a brand new initiative -- the “Smart Island Initiative” -- that will be advanced through funds specifically dedicated to closing the digital gap in Puerto Rico, by providing high-speed internet access islandwide. The government is spending $900 million on Smart Island, with part of those funds specifically directed to teaching the elderly how to use smart devices and computers.

Part of the funds will also be used to provide smartphones and tablets to people who don’t have access to them.

“The goal is that everyone in Puerto Rico learns how to use technology efficiently,” the governor said. “Of course this will take time, effort and schooling for people, [but] it is already happening in school; we shouldn’t have a problem with this.”

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