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ARCHIVED - Automated Border Clearance Program

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The Automated Border Clearance (ABC) program represents a major change for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in its delivery of primary processing of travellers arriving at major Canadian airports.

ABC is an innovative concept that streamlines a portion of the border clearance process for Canadian citizens with a valid Canadian passport and permanent residents (PR) of Canada with a valid Canadian PR card, by using self-service kiosks technology as an alternative to the traditional processing by border services officers.

ABC offers a secure and viable alternative for the processing of eligible travellers by the CBSA. ABC kiosks are easy to use and allow for reduced border wait times; reduced congestion in customs halls; increased processing capacity; and increased client satisfaction. Up to four travellers residing at the same address may be processed in a single transaction through an ABC kiosk if they are all identified on the same E311 Declaration Card.

ABC was developed in partnership with the Vancouver International Airport Authority and piloted at Vancouver International Airport (VIA) from 2009-2011. The pilot at VIA was deemed a success and, in 2012, the program was approved for expansion to other international airports in Canada. The ABC program continues to be available at VIA. On June 5, 2012, the CBSA implemented the program at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. ABC kiosks were subsequently deployed to Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (Terminal 3) on January 30, 2013.  Work is currently underway to expand the program to Terminal 1 in the spring of 2013. The CBSA and Airport Authorities of other interested airports will work together to determine the feasibility of implementing ABC at their airports.

Protecting your Personal Information

A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) was undertaken to identify and address the privacy issues associated with the ABC program, and was submitted to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) in September 2008. An amendment was subsequently submitted in March 2009. The OPC reviewed the PIA and provided some comments and recommendations that have been or are in the process of being addressed.

The following personal information elements will be managed by the Automated Border Clearance Program:  

  • first and last name of traveller
  • date of birth, citizenship, home address
  • travel document information (type, number  and country of issuance)

The ABC program partially automates the CBSA primary processing of travellers and follows the same information security guidelines that are currently in use for information collected at the primary inspection line (PIL).  The ABC kiosk collects the information directly from travellers and uses this information to determine the admissibility of travellers, as mandated under sections 4(2), 44, and 83 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The identification of any previous enforcement action/lookouts or affirmative answers to the E311 Declaration Card could result in a referral to secondary processing. The collection and use of this information for the purpose of controlling the entry of goods into Canada is mandated under the Customs Act. The information is primarily used to facilitate collection of duties and taxes owing on goods imported into Canada. Information may be shared with the Canada Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada or other government departments to enforce Canadian laws.

The personal information collected at the kiosk is encrypted and held in the kiosk memory until the passage is completed (i.e. until the response codes are received from the CBSA and printed on the receipt) or terminated, at which time the information is transmitted electronically from the kiosk to the CBSA systems currently in use when processing travellers through the PIL process. The information is then permanently deleted from the kiosk memory.  All information for successful and incomplete (unsuccessful) passages is stored in the CBSA passage history database.

No personal information is permanently stored, filed or retained by the kiosk. No expanded or secondary use of travellers’ information by aerodrome operators or air carriers is being considered.

The CBSA is responsible for the protection of the information within its systems. Information is only available to authorized users in accordance with relevant statutory authority and is fully protected by firewalls.

The information is protected in accordance with the guidelines of the Financial Administration Act. The storage and management of personal information is governed by the Government Security Policy which forms a basis for all CBSA security guidelines and procedures. Access to the personal information is determined through user profiles. Users can only access data for which they are authorized by the CBSA Security Directorate. Security audits, to identify and record potential problems and determine adherence to Agency security policies, are conducted on an annual basis.

Any compliance issues are dealt with in accordance with the CBSA guidelines outlined in Part 11, Chapter 3 of the People Processing Manual. The Access to Information and Privacy Division in the Corporate Affairs Branch manages requests from the public in regards to CBSA administration and programs. The CBSA Privacy Statement is published on the public Web site and advises on the process to access records under the control of a government institution.

Right of Access

There are currently no onscreen notices on the ABC kiosks that advise users about the collection, use, disclosure, and retention of their personal informationThe ABC users are advised of the collection, use, disclosure, and retention of their personal information through the privacy notice statement on the E311 Declaration Card, which they must complete and scan into the kiosk.

Personal information is retained for seven years. Travellers may formally request access to their personal information, or access to corporate records related to or created by the CBSA by contacting the  Access to Information and Privacy Division.

The CBSA will undertake consultations with stakeholders to develop appropriate wording to be included on ABC kiosk screens regarding the process for accessing their personal information.


Travellers who have concerns about the collection, use, disclosure or retention of their personal information may issue a complaint to the CBSA Access to Information and Privacy Division. Complaints should be made in writing, and include the traveller’s name, contact information, and a brief description of the concerns. Contact the Access to Information and Privacy Division at the CBSA.