Detecting contraband

The CBSA uses the latest scientific technology to prevent contraband and prohibited or restricted goods from entering Canada.

  • Radiation detection portals mass screen cargo containers for radiation.
  • Carborne units help us search for radioactive materials and identify the type of radiation. The carborne unit is mobile and transmits data to CBSA scientists for analysis.
  • Gamma and X-ray technology in all modes of transportation scan everything from baggage to cargo to identify trace amounts of narcotics and explosives residue.
  • Biometric technology enables us to verify people's identities. At the border, digital fingerprint machines allow us to quickly and securely transmit electronic fingerprint data to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. At select airports, iris-scan identification systems enable participants of the NEXUS pre-approved traveller program to quickly verify their identity.
  • Density meters at major border and marine ports can determine the density of a surface or object. The meters can discover hidden walls and help the CBSA detect contraband.
  • Laser range finders measure the inside of commercial containers.
  • A variety of cameras, scopes and mirrors help CBSA officers search hard to reach areas. We use flexible videoprobes to locate undeclared currency and contraband. We use fibre scopes to view areas of vehicles and cargo that are not visible to the naked eye. We use mirror kits to inspect the undercarriage of vehicles and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Detector dogs detect illegal narcotics, firearms and currency. They also help prevent harmful pests and diseases by detecting illegal plants, fruits, meat and animals.
  • Specimen isolation toilets recover banned substances at airports, cruise ship terminals and at some major border crossings.
  • In marine operations, submersible cameras help CBSA officers inspect ships, containers and tractor-trailers and Remote Operated Vehicles for under-vessel inspection.