Advance Passenger Information / Passenger Name Record Program
The Advance Passenger Information / Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) program allows the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to perform risk assessments on air travellers and crew while they are en route to Canada.
About API/PNR data
What is Advance Passenger Information / Passenger Name Record data?
Air carriers are required by law to provide Advance Passenger Information and all available Passenger Named Record data about all passengers to the CBSA before a flight’s arrival in Canada.
Advance Passenger Information
Advance Passenger Information (API) data is basic information that identifies air travellers and flight crew. It includes your name, date of birth, gender, citizenship, and travel document data (e.g. passport number). This type of information can be obtained from the machine-readable area of your passport. Air carriers collect API data when you check in.
Passenger Name Record
Passenger Name Record (PNR) data is traveller flight reservation and itinerary information collected by air carriers. Specific PNR data that is collected varies from one airline to the next. It includes: type of ticket, date of travel, number of bags, seating information, etc. This type of information is in the commercial carrier's departure control and reservation systems. The CBSA does not require commercial air carriers to gather or provide any additional information that is not already collected for their own business purposes.
How this data is used
This information helps to identify high-risk individuals so they can be flagged for closer questioning and examination when they arrive in Canada.
The API/PNR data is used to identify potential illegal activity such as:
- Terrorism or terror-related crimes;
- Human smuggling or trafficking;
- Narcotics smuggling; and
- Other serious transnational crimes.
Using the information, the CBSA can understand and respond to criminal activity, and more efficiently process travellers entering Canada.
The CBSA follows strict guidelines to protect the privacy of air travellers and flight crew. All of the information is stored in a secure system accessible only by authorized CBSA officers. How the data is used is subject to an audit process and users are liable for any misuse.
A summary of the API/PNR Program and its privacy implications can be found on the official Info Source web page.
How long is API/PNR data kept?
API/PNR data is kept for three-and-a-half years from the date of receipt and then destroyed. If the subject of API/PNR data is under active investigation, the information is transferred to a CBSA enforcement database and kept for up to six years.
Does the CBSA share API/PNR data?
When collected API/PNR data relates to terrorism or serious transnational crime, the CBSA may share it on a case-by-case basis with other government departments or foreign states. The CBSA will release the minimum amount of data necessary and only to other government departments or foreign states that have committed to provide the data with the same type of protection offered by the CBSA.
Administrative Guidelines for the Provision to Others, Allowing Access to Others and Use of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) Data.
This memorandum provides operational guidelines on the access and use of API and PNR data within the CBSA, as well as on the disclosure of PNR data elements to third parties and outside agencies such as federal institutions, provincial, municipal or foreign governments or agencies.
API/PNR program legislation
Several pieces of legislation govern the CBSA’s authority to collect API/PNR data, including:
- Customs Act: section 107.1,
- Passenger Information (Customs) Regulations,
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA): paragraph 148(1)(d), and
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations: regulation 269
The Protection of Passenger Information Regulations, made under IRPA, governs the CBSA's access, use, retention and disclosure of API/PNR data.
Request your data
Requesting your information
If you have flown into Canada on a commercial flight you can request your API/PNR data from the CBSA. You will only have access to your own information. You may also request the data about your child who is under 18.
If you are under the age of 18, you must have a parent or legal guardian sign the access request form.
You do not need to pay a fee to access your API/PNR data.
How do I make a request for my information?
To request access to your information, or to request a correction to the data, you must print and complete the CBSA's Traveller's API/PNR Information Request form and mail it to the following address:
Canada Border Services Agency
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
333 North River Road
14th Floor, Tower A
In most circumstances, the CBSA will forward you a written response within 30 days once your request is received.
If you believe that your API/PNR data is incorrect, you can request that the information be corrected. You will need documentation to support your request. In some cases, the CBSA may decline to make the correction. If this happens, a notation will be attached to the API/PNR data explaining that a correction was requested and refused.
For Air Carriers
Program requirements for commercial carriers
Under Canadian law, all commercial air carriers must provide the CBSA with API data and all available PNR data for every traveller, including flight crew, travelling to Canada aboard an aircraft they operate. This information must be provided when the aircraft leaves the last international airport where persons boarded the aircraft before arriving in Canada.
The CBSA considers all aircraft operators engaged in the commercial transportation of persons or goods, regardless of size, to be a commercial air carrier. Examples of commercial air carriers include:
- Operators of a scheduled air service;
- Unscheduled charters; and
- Cargo flights.
As a commercial air carrier, you must provide API/PNR data to the CBSA in an approved format using an authorized method of transmission. Options include:
- Connecting directly to the CBSA data acquisition system;
- Arranging for a service provider to connect on your behalf;
- Sending the data via email;
- Using the CBSA Internet API Gateway (IAG); or
- Using a combination of any of the above.
Technical parameters for these methods are detailed in the "Carrier Messaging Requirements (CMR)" document, which is available upon request.
Air carriers that intend to begin service to Canada should contact the CBSA at least six months before commencing flights in order to arrange for the provision of API/PNR data.
Air carriers that fail to comply with the requirement to provide API/PNR data at the prescribed time and manner may be subject to administrative monetary penalties under the Customs Act.
Please note, the CBSA has launched the Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) initiative, which builds upon the existing API/PNR program.
Administrative and Operational Guidelines for Commercial Carriers for the Processing of Passenger Information Pursuant to the Requirements of the Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) Advance Passenger Information / Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) Program.
This memorandum outlines the CBSA requirements and administrative policies regarding the provision of prescribed advance passenger information and reservation information about any person being transported to Canada by commercial air carriers.
To help the air transportation industry with the API/PNR Program, the CBSA has established a team of carrier account managers who are responsible for providing commercial air carriers with information on the API/PNR Program. Upon request, account managers will provide the "Carrier Messaging Requirements (CMR)" document and a list of certified service providers. An account manager may be contacted by email at CBSA-ASFC_API-PNR or by telephone at 1-866-4API-PNR (1-866-427-4767) toll-free in North America only.
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