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Canada’s new biometrics rules start July 31: Here’s what you need to know

Starting July 31, fingerprints and a photo will become mandatory for many people from Europe, the Middle East and Africa applying for a Canadian visitor visa, work or study permit, permanent residence or asylum in Canada.

Known as biometrics, the fingerprints and photo will be required for identification purposes. This requirement will be extended to Asia, Asia-Pacific and the Americas on December 31, 2018.

The Government of Canada says the collection of biometrics will facilitate application processing and simplify entry into Canada for low-risk travellers.

All travellers between the ages of 14 and 79 must provide biometric information, except in asylum cases, for which there is no upper age limit.

The process of providing your biometric information only takes a few minutes and costs CAD $85 for an individual or CAD $170 for a family that is applying together.

Biometrics are used at both the application and entry into Canada phases. Biometrics allow visa officers to screen applicants for prior criminal convictions or Canadian immigration infractions. A traveller’s biometrics are also used when they enter Canada to confirm his or her identity.

Eight major Canadian airports will have self-serve Primary Inspection Kiosks where fingerprints will be verified, photos confirmed and travellers can make an on-screen declaration.

Fingerprint verification will be on a discretionary basis by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at other Canadian airports and at land ports of entry.