Chapter 9: International security

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9.1 Overview

The Government of Canada must occasionally use foreign contractors and increasingly complex supply chains to access specialized skills and technologies. Similarly, Canadian contractors may be a supplier of an allied foreign government or international organization. The Government of Canada, allied governments and international organizations must ensure their respective sensitive information is adequately handled and safeguarded using common international standards when shared among themselves.

9.1.1 Canadian designated security authority

As per Canada’s international commitments, a Designated Security Authority (DSA) must be identified to provide direction and assistance to government and industry on industrial security matters related to the exchange of classified information with foreign entities. In Canada, the DSA is part of Public Services and Procurement Canada’s (PSPC) Contract Security Program (CSP). In some countries the National Security Authority (NSA) may be acting as the DSA.

9.2 Bilateral security instruments

The Canadian DSA negotiates a number of bilateral security instruments (arrangements, memoranda of understanding, agreements) to facilitate the exchanging and safeguarding of protected and classified information and assets that have been provided to contractors. Consequently, the Canadian DSA identifies the security requirements to safeguard protected and classified information that a Canadian or foreign organization must abide by when it becomes involved in any stage of a contract covered by a bilateral security instrument.

In Canada, the DSA is responsible to negotiate bilateral security instruments that:

9.3 Foreign disclosure

Organizations must get approval from the Canadian DSA to exchange or transfer protected and classified information and assets with a foreign entity or to receive foreign government or international organization classified information. A foreign security assurance confirms that a foreign organization and its personnel meet the security requirements of a solicitation request, contract or subcontract. To obtain a foreign security assurance, organizations must contact the Canadian DSA by email at, who will determine if the information can be released to, and safeguarded by, the foreign organization or government. Please note that foreign disclosure reviews may take several months depending on the information to be disclosed.

Canadian industry transferring national or international information and assets to a foreign entity (government or private sector) must go through the Canadian DSA unless otherwise approved. Most government-to-government exchanges of information and assets use approved courier services. Therefore, organizations who have shipments must contact the Canadian DSA by email at for approval of the shipment. When these methods of transport would result in unacceptable delays to a contract/program/project, the company security officer (CSO) or alternate company security officer (ACSO) can request an alternate method of transmission, such as hand carriage by an organization’s employee from the Canadian DSA.

Information belonging to a third nation cannot be released to individuals holding foreign clearances without the prior written approval of the originating nation through the Canadian DSA. Therefore, disclosing national or international information to a foreign person employed by a Canadian organization must be first approved by the Canadian DSA and strictly controlled by the CSO or ACSO.

Disclosing information to foreign visitors is prohibited unless disclosure authority has been obtained from PSPC’s CSP through an approved visit clearance (Chapter 8: Visits to secure sites) or other authorizing document.

The release of protected and classified information or assets to foreign countries and international organizations must comply with Canada's international bilateral security instruments and foreign legislation, and must be approved by the Canadian DSA.

To request approval for any of the above exchanges of information, or for more information, please contact the Canadian DSA by email at

9.4 Protected information

Organizations must have written authorization from the Canadian DSA before releasing Canadian protected information and assets to other countries. The Canadian DSA will provide the level of safeguarding required for protected information and assets through contract security clauses or written instructions.

9.5 International alternative solutions

In some cases, when there is no bilateral security instrument covering protected information, customized international alternative solutions may be used to help safeguard Canadian protected information handled abroad during Government of Canada contracting.

With international alternative solutions, the Government of Canada may award contracts and subcontracts at Protected A or Protected B levels to suppliers located in a limited set of countries with appropriate security and privacy legislation and framework; similarly, Canadian organizations may consider certain foreign suppliers in their bids and subcontracts. The suitability of an alternative solutions approach is always considered on a case-by-case basis and is at the exclusive discretion of PSPC’s CSP.

More information on whether international alternative solutions are possible is available on the International alternative solutions webpage.

9.6 Foreign classified information and assets

Foreign government and international organization classified information or assets that are Confidential, Secret or Top Secret must be safeguarded in the same manner as Canadian classified information and assets of an equivalent level as defined in the respective bilateral security instrument, unless advised otherwise by the Canadian DSA (Chapter 6: Handling and safeguarding information and assets). Security measures to handle and safeguard foreign classified information are stipulated in the contract clauses.

9.7 Foreign information at the Restricted level

The Restricted classification no longer exists in Canada, however many allied governments and international organizations still use this classification and Canada is obligated to safeguard it consistent with bilateral security instruments. Industries awarded a foreign government contract at the Restricted classification must contact the Canadian DSA by email at for further guidance as the security measures will normally be included in their contract clauses from the foreign DSA. Organizations must also comply with the following additional safeguarding procedures:

9.8 Security requirements for contracts awarded to foreign organizations

In addition to the requirements specified in (Chapter 2: Contracts with security requirements), when awarding contracts, including subcontracts, to organizations outside of Canada holding a valid facility security clearance (FSC) in their nation (foreign contractor), organizations are required to:

9.9 Program/project security instructions

To enable the exchange of information and assets required by governments and industry for multinational cooperative programs, nations participating the program or project may agree to use practices and procedures that differ from the requirements in this manual and from bilateral security instruments. In such cases, these requirements, practices and procedures will be detailed in a Program/Project Security Instruction approved by all participants. For Canada, the Canadian DSA will approve it.

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