Canada Biometrics FAQ

Last updated: 14 September 2020

Frequently asked questions about Canada's Biometrics program.

For the purposes of Canadian immigration, biometrics identification is the collection of an applicant's fingerprints and photo for facial recognition.

It is important for Canada's immigration authorities to be able to identify anyone applying to come to Canada as a visitor, student, worker, permanent resident, refugee claimant or asylum seeker. Biometric screening is used to protect the safety and security of Canadians and ensure the integrity of Canada's immigration system.

Applicants will need to give their biometrics once every 10 years. Applicants don’t need to give their biometrics again until the 10-year period expires..

Canada's immigration authorities recommend that individuals who do not have a biometric service point available in their country find the closest location possible. Click here for a list of VACs where biometrics can be submitted. In the United States, individuals can give their biometrics at a Government of Canada-authorized Application Support Center.

Foreign nationals who apply for a visitor visa, a work or study permit (excluding United States nationals), permanent residence,or refugee or asylum status will be required to give their biometrics. For more information, visit our dedicated page on Canada’s biometrics requirements. Also, click here for a list of exemptions to biometrics.

Foreign nationals applying to come to Canada can check the validity status of their biometrics data with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by visiting this page. If the applicant applied online, they will have 30 days to go in person to an official biometrics collection service point once they receive their Biometrics Instruction Letter. IRCC may send the letter online or by mail and the applicant must bring a paper copy of it to the nearest VAC in order to give their biometrics.

IRCC encourages applicants to submit their biometrics as soon as possible upon receipt of their Biometrics Instruction Letter.

The Government of Canada says fingerprints are encrypted and sent electronically through a secure internal system to the Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System. Once the transfer is complete, personal information is deleted from the database.

The Government of Canada applies an additional fee for biometrics screening and processing, which depends on whether applicants are applying as individuals, with family members or as a group. For more information visit our Canada Biometrics Processing Fees page.

The Government of Canada says individuals holding a valid visitor visa will not be required to give their biometrics until the next time they apply. Applicants can check the validity status of their biometrics data with IRCC.

The Government of Canada says biometrics will not be required from an individual applying for a visa, study permit or work permit from inside Canada until service points are established. Biometrics collection points are set to open in Canada in 2019.