Canada Launches new ePassports


On July 2nd, former Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced the introduction of the new and more secure 10-year ePassport.

“The new, 10-year ePassport provides more convenience for Canadians, and facilitates safe, secure travel which, in turn, helps create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians,” said Minister Kenney. “The Canadian passport is not only a privilege of citizenship, but a reflection of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.” 

Passports around the world have continued to evolve in order to increase security and prevent fraud. The first machine-readable passports were not introduced in Canada until 1985. At this time, the machine’s readable zone was introduced at the bottom of the second page. The zone had the passport holder’s personal information, allowing agents to scan them at border crossings. Canada has arrived slightly late to the playing field, since the ePassport has already become the norm in many countries around the world. Using the ePassport is the recommended practice of the International Civil Aviation Organization and has already been adopted by the United States, France and the United Kingdom. A main advancement achieved through the ePassport is the addition of an embedded electronic chip used to prevent fraud. The chip stores identical personal information as stated in the passport, as well as the passport holder’s photo and a digital security feature to prove that the passport was issued by the Government of Canada. The new 10-year ePassport costs $160, providing Canadians with better value for their money as it costs less per year than the previous cost of a 5-year passport. Canadians will also have to go through the hassle of renewing their passport less frequently. 

With very important information being stored digitally, it is important that a Canadian Passport’s personal information is protected to prevent data skimming. Data skimming is when personal information stored on an electronic chip is read without the knowledge of the bearer. To prevent data skimming, the Canadian ePassport must be held within 10 cm of an ePassport electronic reader, and data stored on the chip cannot be removed until the machine-readable zone on page 2 of the passport has been read. Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that  personal information stored on the data chip will be read without the holder of the passport knowing.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration, follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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