Did you know?As recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization, over 100 countries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, use ePassports.
All new Canadian passports are 36-page electronic passports, or ePassports.
The ePassport is an improved travel document 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.
- A digital facial image lets facial recognition systems check the identity of the passport holder at the border,if the necessary equipment is in place.
- By having stronger identity checks, ePassports reduce the risk of other countries putting visa requirements on travellers. (Needing a visa can add up to $150 per trip, depending on the country.)
- Canada's ePassport has digital security features and images that are unique to the Government of Canada. This helps border authorities ensure that the passport is authentic and valid.
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 example, if you change your name), the information recorded on the chip cannot be updated 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 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 correct may do so by visiting a passport office.
The Canadian ePassport
Text version: Transcript Video
“The Canadian ePassport”
Video length: 3:04 minutes
Blue sky background with clouds and a globe. A drawing of a passport office and a Canadian passport appear.
Narrator: With the introduction of the new electronic passport, or ePassport, Canadians will benefit from the advantages of a sophisticated, tried and true technology.
International Civil Aviation Organization logo with an airplane. A Canadian passport then circles the globe.
Narrator: The ePassport has been recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization since 2003 and has already been adopted by many countries. It’s now THE international norm.
A drawing of a customs officer appears as the passports from several nations pass in front of him.
Narrator: It’s so reliable that to date, no problems have been flagged with the 400 million ePassports in circulation around the world.
In terms of appearance, the ePassport looks like your current passport. The main difference is that it contains an electronic chip.
A picture of a Canadian passport appears and is followed by an illustration of a microchip being placed on the cover at the bottom of the passport. An animation shows the microchip being placed beside the passport as the passport opens to page 2.
Narrator: This chip, which makes the passport more secure, contains personal information that you see on page 2 of your passport. As always, this information is also repeated in the machine-readable zone.
What’s more, your photo on page 2 is identical to the one on the chip.
The machine-readable zone at the bottom of page 2 and the microchip are both highlighted.
Next, a photo lifts off from both the passport and the microchip and are shown to be identical. An image of page 2 of the passport is shown along with a plus sign and a microchip. Both images have a green check mark over them. The passport disappears and the microchip is now shown beside a lock with a maple leaf inside it. A green check mark then appears.
Narrator: This makes it very difficult to tamper with the passport since these elements must match perfectly.
The only extra data on the electronic chip is a digital signature that proves your passport was issued by the Government of Canada. This provides official proof that your passport is authentic.
At a time when identity theft is a real cause for concern, the ePassport uses technology you can rely on.
Various pieces of personal identification float around the screen. A drawing of a purse is shown with a passport inside of it giving off a signal. The signal turns into a lock.
Narrator: The information on the chip cannot be read from more than 10 cm away.
Since the chip is locked, its content cannot be changed. If it were tampered with, the fraud would be detected at the border.
The lock is opened and blinks red as a customs agent looks on.
Narrator: The chip protects your personal information. It does not contain any more information than what you see on page 2.
Image of a microchip with the words “personal information” and “your privacy” on it. A red circle then surrounds the chip. The chip disappears and is replaced by a Canadian passport. The passport now has various international travel visas appearing around it.
Narrator: Canadians can visit many countries without a travel visa in great part thanks to the reliability of the Canadian passport.
The adoption of the ePassport helps maintain this reliability, which helps maintain your freedom to travel without having to get expensive travel visas.
Two passports now are visible. One has the words “5 years” and the other has “10 years” written above it. A lock appears between the 2 passports.
Narrator: With the Canadian ePassport, you have the option of a 5- or 10-year validity period, you receive a higher-security document and you can continue to travel freely.
Airplanes, automobiles, trains and boats now circle the globe and passport.gc.ca web address appears in the center of the globe.
Narrator: Bon voyage!
Background fades to black, the copyright message Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Passport Canada, 2011 is displayed and is then followed by the Canada wordmark.
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 of the ePassport. This allows the chip to be read, allowing the reader to see the ePassport data and check that it is authentic and valid. Other security features of the passport are also checked.
If a traveller has an ePassport at a border checkpoint that does not have an ePassport reader, it will be treated like a non-electronic passport. The MRZ will be scanned in the traditional way.
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