About your passport
An ePassport being read by a reader
All new Canadian passports issued are 36-page electronic passports, or ePassports.
The ePassport is the next generation of travel documents and has many advantages:
- It reduces the risk of tampering and identity fraud by adding more layers of identity checks, all of which must match.
- Adding a digital facial image on the chip enables machine-assisted verification (facial recognition) to confirm the identity of the passport holder at the border, if the necessary equipment is in place.
- By strengthening identity checks, ePassports reduce the risk of other countries imposing visa requirements on travellers. (Needing a visa can add up to $150 per trip, depending on the country.)
- Canada's ePassport contains digital security features and images that are unique to the Government of Canada. This mechanism helps border authorities ensure that the passport is authentic.
When information is first stored on the e-chip in the passport, the e-chip is electronically locked so that your information cannot be tampered with or edited. No additional information about you or your travels will be stored on the e-chip. If your status changes (for instance, if you change your name), the information recorded on the chip cannot be modified to reflect this change. You will have to apply for a new passport.
The information on the e-chip cannot be read unless the passport is held within 10 centimetres of an ePassport reader. Some of the information on page 2 of the passport must also be provided in order to access the information on the e-chip. It is therefore unlikely that personal data stored on the ePassport chip could be read without your knowledge.
Canadians who would like to see the information stored on their e-chip to make sure it is accurate may do so by visiting a Passport Canada office.
Crossing the border with an ePassport
At a border inspection checkpoint, the border official opens the ePassport and places it on the ePassport reader (where available).
The reader scans the printed machine-readable zone (MRZ), which are the lines at the bottom of page 2. This allows the chip to be read, allowing the reader to access the data and check that it is authentic. The traditional security features of the passport are also checked.
If a traveller presents an ePassport at a border checkpoint that does not have an ePassport reader, it will simply be treated like a non-electronic passport. The MRZ will be scanned in the traditional way.
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