The ePassport

How ePassports work

What is an ePassport?

An ePassport is also known as a biometric passport. It looks like a traditional passport book, but it has an electronic chip that is encoded with the same information found on page 2 of the passport (surname, given name, date of birth and sex). It also has a digital picture of the bearer's face.

The electronic chip:

  • increases security
  • reduces the risk of fraud
  • provides greater protection against tampering
Does the ePassport make border crossings faster?

The goal of the ePassport is to improve security by combating fraud. It may, in some cases, help speed up border crossings, but there is no guarantee that this will be the case.

What happens if the chip in my ePassport doesn't work?

In the unlikely event that the chip cannot be read, the passport will still be valid.

Over 100 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, have been using ePassports for several years with no reported chip failures.

Can children's ePassports also be valid for 10 years?

No. All children under the age of 16 receive ePassports that are valid for a maximum of five years.

Can I get an ePassport even though I already have a valid passport?

Yes. If you meet the other requirements to renew your passport you can replace your non-electronic passport with an ePassport by:

  • submitting a renewal application, even if your current passport has more than 12 months remaining
  • paying the full fee
  • providing a written explanation as to why you’re applying at this time

You do not need to replace your valid non-electronic passport with an ePassport. Canadian passports that don’t have an electronic chip are highly secure. They will still be valid until they expire.

I have a valid passport. Will I still be able to use it even though it's not an ePassport?

Yes. Passports that don’t have an electronic chip will still be valid until they expire.

Security

Does the ePassport have biometric information such as an iris scan or fingerprints?

No. The only biometric information stored in the Canadian ePassport is the photo of the passport holder's face.

The other information stored on the chip is the same as the information found on page 2. Once this information is locked on the chip, no information can be added or removed.

Can someone read the information on my ePassport without my knowledge?

It is very unlikely that someone could read the data stored on your ePassport chip without your knowledge because you must:

  • hold the chip in the ePassport within 10 centimetres of the reader for it to be read
  • provide the information on page 2 of the passport to the reader first for it to access the information on the chip

The only information on the chip is the photo and the information that is visible on page 2 of the passport.

Does the ePassport have any kind of tracking device?

No. The chip in the Canadian ePassport is passive. This means it:

  • doesn’t have a power source
  • cannot send information over long distances
  • must be held within 10 centimetres of a reader in order to be read

The only information that is on the chip is the information from page 2 of the passport. The chip doesn’t transmit or record any other information.

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