Special Topics & Resources

Obtaining Biometrics for CIC Canada

Published On: March 11, 2020

What is Biometrics?

The term biometrics refers to human characteristics that help identify an individual.  You also carry a form of biometrics in the form of a driver’s license, passport or birth certificate that is used to identify you.   Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term you use biometrics in your daily life.

When asked to provide biometrics to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC Canada), you are being asked to provide the following:

  • fingerprints; and
  • photograph.

The request for biometrics from CIC Canada began on July 31, 2018.  As this is a new procedure, people are confusing biometrics with police background check—they are not the same thing.  And, its not just the applicant that is getting confused.  Many agencies and local police departments across Canada have not yet learned about this difference. If you go to their office for biometrics only, many will mistakenly believe that you require a background check.

Biometrics vs Background Check


  • If you are being asked to provide biometrics to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, you are being asked to submit proof of your identity only (fingerprints and photograph). You are NOT being asked for a criminal record background check through the RCMP.
  • You may only attend a designated Visa Application Centre (VAC) to provide biometrics.

Background Check:

  • If you are being asked to obtain a police background check you will be required to provide biometric information such as fingerprints and government issued identification to your local police or fingerprint agency as a form of identity.
  • HOWEVER, the fingerprint agency or local police then takes this information and conducts a criminal record background check. You will be issued either a police clearance proving there is no criminal record or a report of criminal convictions, if any.
  • You may ONLY go to a local fingerprint agency or police department for fingerprinting if you are required to obtain a police background check or clearance.

How do you know the fingerprint agency or local police is NOT an approved VAC?

You have gone to the wrong place for biometrics if you are told one of the following:

  • Your fingerprints are being sent to the RCMP for processing. This means they are conducting a background check.
  • Your fingerprints are being sent to the RCMP for processing and the RCMP will send the results directly to CIC Canada. This is still wrong.   What is being sent to CIC Canada is the results of a police background check, NOT your biometrics.
  • You ask “are you an approved Visa Application Centre” and they do not know what you are talking about.

Why does Citizenship Immigration Canada (CIC) require biometrics?

Biometrics requirements identify individuals entering Canada. Some of the reasons for providing biometrics are:

  • fraud prevention (to stop others from fraudulently using your identity);
  • resolve problems or errors relating to someone who may have a similar name and date of birth as you; and
  • confirm your identity and make it easier for you to re-enter Canada.

Once provided, biometrics are valid for 10 years.  That means, you will not have to resubmit biometrics again during this 10-year period if applying for separate visas or permits. However, if you apply for Permanent Residency in Canada you will be expected to provide biometrics each time that you apply, even if biometrics have been provided before.

Calgary Fingerprinting and Background Check Services

If you have been asked to obtain a police check in Canada, we can help you if:

  • you are in or near Calgary (we can fingerprint you in our Calgary office); or
  • you are outside Canada but require a background check in Canada (we accept and process fingerprints from all over the word).

For more information please check:

Criminal Record Background Check in Canada:

CIC Information on Biometrics

Calgary Biometric Office:  Calgary Biometric VAC Centres

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