Fingerprinting vs. Biometrics in Canada



There is some confusion about the difference between fingerprinting and biometrics in Canada. This post will help to clear things up.

Fingerprinting and biometrics refer to two different things in Canada. They are often confused because in order to provide biometrics fingerprints are recorded as a part of the process. But fingerprinting is only one-half of the biometrics procedure. The other is digital photographs.

Biometrics is used by the Government of Canada to record physical characteristic information. By providing the government with a copy of fingerprint impressions as well as a photograph the information can be kept on record and used to verify the identity of someone who is entering or living in Canada.

Biometrics information is recorded for various immigration purposes. It is offered at a port of entry or at various Service Canada outlets.


Fingerprinting in Canada is used to conduct a criminal record background check in order to obtain a police clearance certificate or a copy of criminal history.

This is a non-criminal fingerprinting procedure. The fingerprints are recorded electronically and submitted to CPIC. Once submitted to CPIC the information is used by CCRTIS – Canadian Criminal Real Time Investigation Services – a division of the RCMP, in order to generate a criminal record report.

The RCMP will use the submitted fingerprints to check against the National Repository of Criminal Records to see if there is a match. If a match exists a criminal record report will be generated and returned to the applicant. If no match exists, meaning there is no information to report, a police clearance will be issued.

Do I need fingerprinting or biometrics?

If you are not part of an immigration procedure in Canada then the chances are you do not require biometrics. However, if you are part of an immigration procedure you will require both biometrics AND fingerprinting at some point during your immigration procedures.

Fingerprinting is reserved for things like FOREIGN immigration procedures. In our office it is most commonly used for Pardon / Record Suspension applications or for US entry waiver applications. In both cases the purposes is to generate the criminal record report from the RCMP, or more likely the police certificate.

If you are unsure of whether or not you need to provide Biometrics please click the link below. The Government of Canada has a tool for assessing this. Considering the source however, we don’t guarantee it will work very well.

Biometrics – Self Assessment Tool

Fingerprinting Services

If you require fingerprinting services we have offices that provide this service in Montreal and Toronto. Below is a list of reasons you may require fingerprinting services in Canada.

  • Adoption (Canadian or International)
  • Canadian Citizenship
  • Employment (Federal Government)
  • Employment (Other)
  • Employment (Police)
  • Employment (Private Industry)
  • Employment (Provincial Government)
  • Landed Immigrant Status
  • Name Change
  • National Sex Offender Registry
  • Other (Specify Reason)
  • Pardon Application (Record Suspension)
  • Privacy Act Request (CMP-PPU-030)
  • Visa / Border Crossing / Foreign Travel / Work
  • Volunteer Employment

Contact us today for appointment – 1-866-242-2411



Comment (1)
Michael Ashby / January 17, 2023


Kind regards,



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