Biometrics and privacy

The Government of Canada takes its privacy and security obligations very seriously.

Collection of fingerprints and photo (biometrics)

When you apply for a Canadian visitor visa, study or work permit, temporary resident permit or for permanent residence, you need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics), unless you are otherwise exempted.

We collect your biometrics so we can establish and confirm your identity. This information is also used to help assess your application.

Information you provide to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is collected under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to determine if you can travel to Canada.

Most applicants need to give their fingerprints and photo before they can travel to Canada. You can do this at the following biometrics collection service locations:

  • Visa Application Centres (VACs) worldwide
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Application Support Centers (ASCs)
    • for applicants already legally in the United States (U.S.) or a U.S. territory

Privacy protection

The Government of Canada takes its privacy obligations very seriously, and has worked with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to protect applicants’ personal information when collecting, using, and sharing biometric information.

Sharing information

When assessing your application, we’ll share your fingerprints and photo with the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). We may also share it with other law enforcement agencies in Canada to enforce any Canadian or provincial law, as well as with Canadian government institutions or foreign governments according to Canada’s privacy laws.

Your fingerprints and photo will also be shared with the U.S., the United Kingdom (U.K.), Australia and New Zealand in a way that respects:

  • privacy laws
  • civil liberties
  • human rights (including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

How your information is stored and transmitted

Your information is collected, stored and transmitted securely using encryption. This prevents unauthorized access to your information.

Biometrics collection service locations, such as VACs and ASCs, do not keep your information. Your information is deleted from the collection system once it’s sent to the Canadian Immigration Biometric Identification System.

Your rights

You can refuse to give your biometrics. However, if you decide not to give your biometrics, we may refuse your application.

Canada’s Privacy Act protects you. You have the right to:

  • access, and
  • correct errors in your information

IRCC’s Personal Information Bank (PIB) stores your personal information.

To access or correct your information, send a request to IRCC. You must include the following PIB numbers with your request:

  • PIB IRCC PPU 039, 068 and 042 for personal information
  • PIB RCMP PPU 030 for fingerprints.

Find out more about our PIBs.

Who to contact for privacy concerns

If you have concerns about the collection or control of your biometrics (as it relates to Canada’s Privacy Act and privacy policies), contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

Address
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC K1A 1H3

Telephone
Toll-free in North America: 1-800-282-1376
From anywhere in the world: 819-994-5444
TTY: 819-994-6591

If you have questions about your application, including the biometrics process, contact us.

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