As of July 1, 2013, all new Canadian passports issued will be 36-page electronic passports, or ePassports. At that time, applicants age 16 and older will have the option of applying for a passport with 5- or 10-year validity for both first-time applications and renewals, while children's ePassports will be issued for a maximum of 5 years.
The Canadian ePassport looks like a regular passport, but has new security features that make the passport even more tamper-proof:
- An electronic chip embedded in the back cover stores the same personal information that you see on page 2 of the passport (except for the signature), the photo and a digital security feature that proves the passport was issued by the Government of Canada.
- New images in the inside pages celebrate Canada and serve as extra security features.
Protecting your information
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. No additional information about you or your travels will be stored on the e-chip.
The information on the e-chip cannot be read unless the passport is held within 10 centimetres of an ePassport reader, open to page 2, and the machine-readable zone has first been read. It is therefore extremely unlikely that personal data stored on the ePassport chip could be read without your knowledge.
An ePassport being read by a reader
At border crossings equipped with ePassport readers, the ePassport is put into a scanner that reads the machine-readable zone, which in turn allows the e-chip to be read as well. The machine also checks other security features, such as the country-specific signature. Border authorities not equipped with ePassport readers will continue to examine travellers’ passports as they do now, looking at other security features such as holographic images.
Tried and true
Over 100 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, have been using ePassports for several years with no reported chip failures. Through a pilot project that began in January 2009, Passport Canada has already issued more than 60,000 diplomatic and special passports that contain an electronic chip, and no problems have been reported.
In the unlikely event that the chip cannot be read, the passport will still be valid.
A transparent process
Canadians who would like to see the information stored on their e-chip to make sure it is accurate may do so by visiting one of Passport Canada’s 34 offices.
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