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Apr 8, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Canada: visas checked by fingerprint at Vancouver Airport

The implementation in Canada of new regulations in terms of border control is a boon for biometrics. Anyone applying for a visa or a residence permit needs to supply a digital photo and their fingerprints, and by the end of the year, these will be able to be checked for all international passengers entering the country. Vancouver Airport is already equipped for this, with visa verification by fingerprint and digital photo compulsory since either January or December 2018 for travellers, depending on their country and region of origin.


Vancouver International Airport in Canada is moving up a level in terms of its security checks. Henceforth, international passengers will have to have their fingerprints checked when using self-service machines for preliminary immigration controls. The Borderexpress system, as it is called, is the first in the country to have been designed to meet the standards set out in the regulations passed by the Canadian government in terms of biometric verification. The new security rules will come into force at all national airports on 31 March, according to French website Future Travel Experience.


Growing number of passengers to check


The new regulations will require each foreign traveller to have their fingerprints checked to determine whether they are indeed the holder of the Canadian visa or residence permit that has been issued, meaning that Canadian citizens are therefore not concerned by the Borderexpress system. Furthermore, they will not be required to use the similar systems being implemented in the country’s other airports in the course of 2019.

"Countries are currently looking for solutions to give them better management of passengers, whose numbers are increasing," said Steve Hankinson, vice-president of Vancouver Airport in charge of innovation and planning. "They are becoming more interested in the modernisation of border management by means of biometrics. Each state has its own laws in terms of immigration and Borderexpress can be configured to take these into account – not only for air traffic but also train and boat journeys, where border controls are every bit as important."


Biometric data from the beginning of the visa process


If the system works in Canada, it is thanks to the fact that biometrics are already included at an earlier stage in the process. With the exception of US citizens, anyone requesting a temporary visa, work permit or permanent residence permit has to provide fingerprints and a digital photo with their application.

This has been the case since 31 January 2018 for people from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and since 31 December for those from Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Furthermore, it "meets the needs of the Canadian government while providing a border control solution that combines security, efficiency and innovation", Hankinson adds.


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