International use of biometrics

The implementation of biometrics brings Canada in line with other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, which were already using biometrics for immigration and border security purposes. Several other countries are moving in the same direction as well.

  • The United States has required fingerprints and a photograph from all foreign nationals (except most Canadians and Bermudans) since 1998.
  • Japan has required all foreign nationals to give their fingerprints and to be photographed upon entry since 2007.
  • The United Kingdom has required fingerprints and a photograph from all visa applicants since 2008.
  • In December 2010, Australia began collecting fingerprints and photographs for visa applications made in 15 countries, managed by 10 offices across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
  • With the exception of France, which had already implemented biometrics in its visa program, the European Union and Schengen Treaty countries began rolling out their biometric (fingerprint and digital photograph) visa program in October 2011.
  • New Zealand has been collecting fingerprints from certain identified high risk travellers since 2010 and is currently in the planning phase of expanding biometric collection for its immigration program.

Canada is working closely with its trusted international partner countries through the Migration Five (M5) forum on biometric-based information sharing. Canada started biometric-based information sharing with each of its M5 partners in limited volumes in 2009 under the authority of the High Value Data Sharing Protocol.  Since that time, new arrangements have been signed and regulations passed to allow for the high volume system to system exchange of biometrics and related immigration information.  The purpose of this exchange is to further strengthen identity management and to counter fraud and reduce abuse of our respective immigration programs.

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