When you cross between countries often, you find that different countries have their own border control regulations. Hence, they each have federal bodies charged with enforcing such regulations. In Canada, one of such federal bodies is the CBSA, and one of their functions is collecting traveller information. Therefore, this begs the question, “What Traveller Information Does CBSA Collect, and why?”
These are the questions we mean to answer in this article. Hence, if you’re here searching for information on CBSA activities, you’ve come to the right place. Now, for the sake of first-timers, let us answer the first question;
In this article
- What is the CBSA?
- List of Information CBSA Collects from Travellers
- What is a Travel History Report?
- Who has Access to CBSA Traveller Information?
- Use of Traveller History Information
- Temporary Residence Application
- Permanent Residence Application
- How to Request your Travel History Report
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the CBSA?
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), or Agence des services frontaliers du Canada (ASFC), is a border-law enforcement agency in Canada. The agency is charged with border control, immigration services, travel, trade, and other customs services along the Canadian border.
The services the CBSA provides is very important because it helps in ensuring national security, proper record-keeping, and a whole lot of other functions.
Responsibilities of the CBSA include; administering and enforcing proper border laws; detecting and detaining possible threats to Canada; collecting due taxes on imported/exported goods; however, the most important of those, for the sake of this article, is collecting certain information from travellers to carry out other duties.
List of Information CBSA Collects from Travellers
We have enumerated the responsibilities of the CBSA. Hence, to carry out those responsibilities effectively, the CBSA collects traveller information upon entry into, or before exit from the country. This information is collected at airports and land borders; recording such information at sea ports and via rail transport have not yet started.
The information the CBSA collects from travellers include the following;
- first name
- middle name(s)
- last name
- date of birth
- travel document type, number and name of the country that issued the travel document
- date and time of entry/exit
- the name of the port of entry/exit
The above information is collected at land ports. However, if the information is collected at an airport, the flight information will be included. All the traveller information listed above normally aids in generating a document called; Travel History Report.
What is a Travel History Report?
A travel history report is a document generated using all of a person’s entry and exit data; that is, the same data collected by the CBSA. This report has certain uses, especially when applying for immigration and passport services in Canada. It could also prove useful in certain legal situations. However, all this will be discussed later on.
Starting in August 2000, the CBSA collected entering information from people coming into Canada for record purposes for this report. In 2013, however, there was a little policy change and the agency started collecting exit information on foreign nationals (save Americans) leaving Canada. Since 2019 though, all traveller exit information is required, including those of Canadians and Americans.
Who has Access to CBSA Traveller Information?
Traveller information the CBSA collects is usually very private. However, under certain conditions, such information is released to selected bodies in accordance with the Privacy Act, the Customs Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Therefore, the CBSA traveller information is made available to the following people;
- border services officers and superintendents
- criminal investigations officers and analysts
- document analysts
- National Security Screening Division officers and analysts
- trusted traveller officers
- inland enforcement officers and enforcement case officers
- intelligence officers and intelligence analysts
- National Border Operations Centre (NBOC) officers
- hearings officers and hearings advisors
- National Targeting Centre (NTC) targeting officers
- NTC targeting operations intelligence
- The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship, Canada (IRCC)
Use of Traveller History Information
You may be wondering what any of the above-listed bodies or personnel would want with your travel history information. Therefore, here are some of the most common uses of traveller information/travel history report;
Temporary Residence Application
Firstly, and probably the most important, the Canadian government uses travel history information to know if a visitor stayed back in Canada beyond their allowable period at any point in the past. Such an illegal act could serve to deter any applications they make in the future.
Permanent Residence Application
When applying for permanent residence in Canada, the IRCC could request for your travel history report from the CBSA to verify if you meet the conditions. That is, they will need to know how long you spent in and out of Canada to determine your eligibility. If the person is applying for permanent residency via sponsorship, this report could also tell whether the sponsor resides in Canada, and for how long.
Those who wish to come into Canada seeking asylum; that is, as refugees, can also be have the CBSA submit their traveller information. This could help verify whether or not they presented honest information; hence, aiding in cutting down the level of fraudulent entry at the border.
The Canadian authorities could suspect that you could have come in via immigration fraud and need to investigate your permits or citizenship/travel documents. However, it could also include regular crime that requires the court to know whether or not you were in the country at a particular time. In such situations, therefore, the authorities could request for your travel history report and use it as an alibi of some sort.
How to Request your Travel History Report
We have already established that various applications in Canada could lead to you needing your CBSA traveller information/travel history report. Hence, it only stands to reason that it is possible to request your travel history report from the CBSA.
Requesting your report from the CBSA usually takes an average of 30 days to process. This is quite a long period, considering you may not have such time to complete certain applications. So, it is not always wise to request it yourself. Most times, such applications as need your report usually have a clause in their form that permit the IRCC to request it directly from the CBSA. Some of these include;
- Citizenship application for adults.
- Citizen application for unaccompanied minors.
- Permanent residence application.
If, however, you still need your travel history report, you can apply online for it. You can apply freely for your own report. However, if you’re applying for someone else, you will be need them to complete this consent form that you will include in your application.
Ensure to specify what kind of information you need; that is, entry info, exit info, or both.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the CBSA Collect Sea Travel Entry/Exit Information?
No. As of 2022, the CBSA does not yet collect traveller information for travellers entering and exiting Canada by marine ports or by rail.
Recommended: Things to know about port of Entry
Does Travel History Matter for Canadian Permanent Residence?
Yes. When applying for permanent residence in Canada, you may be required to present a travel history report.
Can I Apply for Canada Visa Without Travel History?
Yes, absolutely! First-time travellers don’t have a travel history with Canada, yet that doesn’t stop them from applying for a visa.
Finally, you shouldn’t be bothered when you hear the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) collects traveller information. They only need your biodata and travel document data. This is therefore, kept for reference purposes for the future, and is subject to all your privacy rights stated by the Canadian government.