Canada’s Biometrics Visa Requirements: Fingerprints and a Photo

Last updated: 25 July 2022

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Canada's expanded biometrics requirements mean everyone interested in applying for a visitor visa, work or study permit, a permanent residence visa, or claiming refugee/asylum status will need to review whether or not they are required to submit biometrics (fingerprints and a photo).

Through the collection of biometric data, the Government of Canada is able to process applications more efficiently and streamline the entry of low-risk travellers into Canada.

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Biometrics Collection at Visa Application Centres

Individuals submitting an application outside Canada for the first time will need to submit their biometrics at a Government of Canada-authorized Visa Application Centre (VAC). To find the VAC that is nearest to you, consult this page.

Travellers from visa-exempt countries who are coming to Canada as tourists with a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) will not be required to provide biometrics. Click here for a full list of exemptions to the biometrics program.

Biometrics for Permanent Residence Applications

The Government of Canada says anyone applying for permanent residence will need to give their biometrics and pay the fee regardless of whether they have provided biometrics in the past to support a visitor visa, study or work permit application or a different application for permanent residence (provided they do not meet the requirement for exemption listed below).

Reducing Application Delays

The Government of Canada provides the following advice for reducing application delays:

  • Do not mail in your application. Either apply online or in-person at a Visa Application Centre.
  • Pay both the application fee and the biometrics fee when you submit your application.
  • Give your biometrics at the same time as you apply at a Visa Application Centre, or within a few days of getting your Biometric Instruction Letter.
  • Consider travel time when planning if you need to travel to visit a VAC or Application Support Center (ASC, if applying from the United States) to provide your biometrics.
  • If you can, make sure all family members who are applying for a visa go to the same VAC or ASC at the same time to give biometrics.
  • If you have a temporary injury or decoration (such as henna) on your face or hands, wait until the injury has healed or the decoration has faded completely before you give your biometrics.
    • A temporary injury or medical condition is one that will likely heal or improve over time, and can include:
      • bandaged face or fingers due to minor cuts or burns,
      • rashes and other temporary skin conditions.
  • If you have a permanent injury or condition on your face or hands, go to a VAC or ASC to have your photograph and any available fingerprints taken. A permanent injury or medical condition is one that will not heal or improve over time. Bring any documentation you have about your condition.
  • If you are about to reach your 80th birthday, please note that VACs cannot collect biometrics from applicants 80 years of age and over. If you are 79 years old when you submit your application, but you turn 80 years old before you give your biometrics, you must contact your Canadian visa office to make arrangements to have your biometrics collected there. If you are in the United States, you can still give your biometrics at the nearest US Application Support Centre

Applicants with Multiple Citizenships

Applicants with multiple citizenships must use the same travel document (e.g. passport) for the entire application process. This same document should be used when giving biometrics at a Visa Application Centre or at an Application Support Centre (ASC) if you applying from the United States.

Applicants who have already submitted an application and would like to change the nationality on that application must withdraw the application. To do this, contact the visa office responsible for your country or territory. After doing this, such applicants may submit a new application and pay the applicable fees. Visit the biometrics processing fees page for more details.

In-Canada Applications

In-person applications are available at specified Service Canada locations across Canada.

Foreign nationals between ages 14 and 79 must submit biometrics if they are applying within Canada as a:

  • foreign worker (including work permit extension)
  • international student (including study permit extension)
  • visa-required visitor (including extending stay)
  • permanent resident.

Biometrics are required to extend permits and visas if the applicant's previously given biometrics are no longer valid.

All permanent resident applications from family, economic, and refugee class require biometrics.

Exemptions

Applicants in the following categories are not required to give biometrics to travel:

  • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
  • visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA);
  • children under the age of 14;
  • applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
  • heads of state and heads of government;
  • cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business;
  • U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada;
  • refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit;
  • temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. The collection of biometrics identification (fingerprints and facial recognition photos) is considered an efficient tool for correctly identifying individuals. Biometrics collection enables the Government of Canada to facilitate application processing and simplify entry into Canada for low-risk travellers.

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. 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.

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 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.


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