ARCHIVED – Chapter 2: Security screening, Part II—Personnel security clearances

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250. General

According to the Policy on Government Security, individuals who may have access to classified information, assets or sites must receive personnel security clearances.


  1. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is responsible for ensuring that all employees who are required or selected as key senior officials (KSOs) of Canadian organizations that are being processed for or have been granted a facility security clearance (FSC) by PSPC, hold a current personnel security clearance (PSC) at the appropriate level
  2. ARCHIVED - Chapter 2: Security screening, Part I—Reliability status details the procedures used to obtain the necessary reliability status, which is required before gaining authorized access to protected information, assets or sites. The current section, Part II—Personnel security clearances, details the personnel security clearances required before gaining authorized access to classified information, assets or sites
  3. All security screenings now use law enforcement inquiries (criminal record checks) which have a mandatory electronic fingerprint requirement. For more information, please consult Mandatory electronic fingerprints


The Policy on Government Security establishes personnel screening standards to ensure that only persons whose reliability and trustworthiness have been established, are granted access to protected information, assets or sites. It further guarantees that only those persons whose reliability, trustworthiness and loyalty to Canada has been established are granted access to classified information, assets or sites. Equally important, the same standards provide a framework and process for carrying out personnel security screening assessments that respect the rights of the individual who has consented to undergo any level of security screening.


  1. Personnel security screenings are carried out according to the highest level of information and assets which will be accessed in the normal performance of assigned work duties or contracts and require an assessment of an individual's reliability, trustworthiness and loyalty
  2. Personnel security screening clearances are organized by:
    • levels of personnel security
      • Secret
      • Top Secret
    • information or asset access
      • Confidential: when compromise could reasonably be expected to cause injury to the national interest
      • Secret: when compromise could reasonably be expected to cause serious injury to the national interest
      • Top Secret: when compromise could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave injury to the national interest


The Government of Canada no longer uses the restricted classification. This classification may still be encountered in the form of "NATO RESTRICTED" or foreign and allied national restricted information or assets.

No individual is entitled, by virtue of rank or position, to have access to, knowledge of, or custody of classified information and assets. The individual must have the appropriate PSC level and an identified need-to-know. Access includes the opportunity to gain knowledge of information by visual or auditory means.

251. Organization's responsibilities relating to a personnel security clearance

  1. A PSC does not in itself give an employee the right to access classified information, assets or sites. It gives the organization the authority to allow an employee access to classified information, assets or sites, up to and including the classification level indicated in the security clearance authorization issued by the PSSD, on a need-to-know basis, and subject to any restrictions that may be imposed in contractual or pre-contractual documentation. Access to classified information, assets or sites is not permitted before receipt of the necessary PSC
  2. Personnel security screening documentation may only be submitted to PSPC's Contract Security Program (CSP) by the company security officer (CSO) or the alternate company security officer (ACSO)
  3. A non-Canadian citizen, who has been granted a Canadian PSC "with restrictions", may have access to classified information and assets which originates from their nation of citizenship, as well as to certain Canadian information and assets. Such individuals require approval by PSPC prior to being given access to third-nation information and assets. These individuals must not be given access to classified information and assets marked "For Canadian eyes only". Any questions concerning access privileges should be referred to the PSPC's CSP
  4. Under normal circumstances, an organization may not request a PSC for an employee at a higher level than the FSC. Certain exceptions are permitted for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) levels of clearance. Consult the responsible field industrial security officer (FISO) for specific guidance
  5. Organizations have the sole jurisdiction and responsibility for the engagement and termination of an employee. They are also responsible for determining and justifying an employee's need for access to classified information, assets or sites
  6. An organization may only submit personnel security screening documentation on behalf of individuals who have started employment with that organization or are under contract to start work within 60 days
  7. NATO clearance of control of secret material in an international command (COSMIC) Top Secret and a Canadian clearance of Top Secret are valid for a 5 year period only. NATO Secret and Canadian Secret are valid for a 10 year period from the date of issue unless rescinded for cause, and will terminate when:
    1. the individual leaves the employ of the organization on whose behalf the security clearance was granted
    2. the individual is transferred to another position where access to classified information, assets or sites is not required
    3. the organization's facility security clearance lapses or is cancelled
  8. The CSO or ACSO is responsible for initiating the renewal and termination of PSCs


  1. an individual must be the age of majority in order to be processed for a personnel security clearance or the signature of a parent or guardian must be provided (some provinces have different age of majority requirements). Refer to instructions attached to the personnel security screening form
  2. the criminal code, section 748 (3) states that no person convicted of an offence under section 121 (frauds on the government), section 124 (selling or purchasing office), or section 418 (selling defective stores to Her Majesty), has, after that conviction, the capacity to contract with Her Majesty or to receive any benefits under a contract between Her Majesty and any other person or to hold office under Her Majesty unless a pardon has been granted. This effectively prohibits granting of a PSC to any such individual

252. Pre-screening requirements

  1. When an individual is being considered for employment in areas where access to classified information, assets or sites will be required, the CSO or ACSO must first determine the reliability and trustworthiness of that individual
  2. In addition, the CSO or ACSO must ensure that the employee can provide sufficient information to permit government authorities to conduct a background enquiry covering the last 10 years. Enquiries may only be conducted in countries that have bilateral or reciprocal agreements with Canadian investigative authorities
  3. In cases where the 10 year requirement cannot be met, or an individual is not a Canadian citizen, or the individual has resided outside of Canada for more than a year, during the preceding 10 years, guidance should be sought from the PSPC's CSP, before the submission of screening documentation. This is particularly applicable to nationals of those countries from which reliable background information cannot be obtained
  4. After favorable findings, a request for a personnel security clearance may be submitted to the PSPC's CSP


    Please note that the implementation of the new identity verification requirement has been postponed to a later date. In the meantime, we will provide additional guidance to company security officers to assist them with this new requirement.

  5. The CSO or ACSO must verify the identity of an applicant by using 2 or more of the official documents listed below. The CSO or ACSO must undertake the verification either themselves or they must ensure that an approved employee of the organization has conducted such verification and has obtained copies of the documentation to confirm the background or identity of the applicant.
    Official documents for verification of the employee include:
    1. current passport
    2. birth certificate
    3. baptismal certificate
    4. citizenship certificate or immigrant visa and record of landing document
    5. Canadian work permit or visa
    6. valid driver's
  6. The CSO or ACSO is directly responsible to verify the identity of an applicant by using 2 instances of evidence of identity listed below (one of which must contain a photo). The CSO or ACSO must conduct the verification, or ensure that an approved employee of the organization has conducted such verification and has obtained copies of the documentation.

    The CSO or ACSO must be satisfied that the identity documents are physically verified, and that they match the individual, originate from an appropriate authority such as a vital statistics agency, immigration authority or jurisdictional authority in Canada and are the most current record available. The CSO or ACSO must also keep photocopies of each piece of identification in the employee's personnel security screening file for audit purposes.

  7. When the CSO or ACSO submit a security screening request on behalf of themselves to PSPC's CSP, copies of 2 or more of the above noted official documentation, which confirms identity, must be attached to the security clearance application
  8. Guidelines and instructions. The subject of the security screening must be properly identified through a preliminary verification using:
    1. surname (maiden name) and given name(s)
    2. date of birth: an applicant's date of birth may be verified using one or more of the above documents in section 252. Pre-screening requirements, article 5, of this chapter)
    3. addresses: the applicant's address(es) for the last 10 years must be obtained. The current address may only be included on the instructions attached to the personnel security screening form. The address on this form must include apartment number, street number, street name (civic number, if appropriate), city, province and/or state, postal code, country and the (from and to) dates. The applicant must include the full 10 years of detailed addresses
    4. education and professional qualifications: these may be verified by official transcripts, diplomas, certificates from educational or professional institutions and/or originals of professional certification from municipal, provincial or federal licensing bodies, associations or institutions
    5. employment history: this may be verified by contacting previous employers to determine dates of employment, performance and reason for leaving employment
    6. personal character and/or employment references: these may be verified by contacting references provided by the applicant


Only after a thorough preliminary verification has been completed, documented and retained by the CSO or ACSO (subject to audit by PSPC staff), may a request for a security clearance be submitted to PSPC's CSP.

253. Procedures for requesting a personnel security clearance

  1. The following must be completed and processed before a personal security clearance (PSC) is issued:

    For more information about fingerprinting, refer to Mandatory electronic fingerprints.

    For ease of processing, all forms must be completed and submitted electronically. If this system is unavailable, all forms must be typed or printed, in block letters and using black ink. If any form is illegible, it will be returned to the sender.

  2. In those organizations which are using an electronic process, the applicant's hardcopy documentation bearing original signatures must be forwarded to the PSPC's CSP on the same day as the electronic submission

For more information, refer to How to complete the security clearance form (TBS/SCT 330-60E).


  1. Requests at the Secret level (including NATO) must be completed every 10 years, unless required sooner for cause
  2. Requests at the level of Top Secret or COSMIC Top Secret must be completed every 5 years, unless required sooner for cause
  3. A Personnel security screening form must be completed and accompany the Security clearance form when the cyclical update process is required

254. Special cases

  1. PSPC's CSP will request the required information by letter or email when cases arise that require specific information, which is not provided on the Security clearance form or in the instructions attached to this form. This may occur in cases where nationals of countries, using other alphabets (such as Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese or Korean), require additional information or the completion of special forms
  2. An applicant of Chinese ethnic origin must use the Chinese characters appropriate to their origin, directly on the form. When the person concerned is unable to write such characters, a letter of explanation must be attached to the form
  3. For NATO security clearances, note that:
    1. Canadian nationals for whom a NATO clearance is requested will concurrently be granted a Canadian national clearance without further application
    2. in the case of non-Canadians, a NATO clearance does not include a right of access to Canadian classified information and assets; such access must be applied for separately. The CSO or ACSO shall indicate both requirements, if applicable, on the personnel security screening form
    3. a NATO security clearance for a national of another NATO member nation may only be granted by that nation, regardless of the length of time that the person has resided in Canada. Such clearance, when used in support of a visit request (VR) to a member nation outside Canada, other than the individual's own nation, is contingent upon the disclosure discretion of the member nation to be visited
    4. these countries are members of the NATO alliance: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States

255. Security screening certificate and briefing form

The Security screening certificate and briefing form must be completed and forwarded to PSPC's CSP for the following purposes:

  1. briefing and acknowledgement
    • after a security clearance has been granted by PSPC, the CSO or ACSO must:
      • provide a comprehensive briefing to the employee about their future security responsibilities
      • get, in writing, the acknowledgement of the employee to comply with all the necessary requirements
  2. termination:
    • the CSO or ACSO must complete and submit this form if an:
      • applicant terminates employment before receipt of a reliability status
      • employee granted a reliability status terminates employment with the organization

For more information, refer to How to complete the security screening certificate and briefing form.


The CSO or ACSO is expected to place the original signed form in the individual's security file with the organization.

256. Transfer and duplication of security clearances between organizations

A security clearance of an individual may be transferred between organizations, provided the following criteria have been met:

  1. the security clearance was not terminated more than 2 years ago
  2. the security clearance is not due for updating
  3. the individual has stated that there have been no changes in their personal history regarding criminal convictions, marital status or cohabitation

The following must be completed to transfer and duplicate security clearances between organizations:

For more information, refer to Mandatory electronic fingerprints.

The form must be completed as per a new request (refer to section 253. Procedures for requesting personnel security clearances of this chapter) but with the following differences, in:

  1. section A: Place an "X" in the Transfer box
  2. section B: Ensure to provide all the required details on the line "Have you previously completed a Government of Canada security screening form"
  3. section C: Leave all boxes blank on lines 1 through 5. The individual, however, must sign and date the form in order to confirm the personal details in section B, above


When a security clearance is to be transferred to PSPC from the Department of National Defence (DND) as a result of a request from an organization, and the level of the clearance requires fingerprints (for example: COSMIC (NATO) Top Secret or Top Secret), a new set of fingerprints must be provided to PSPC's CSP at the same time as the transfer request is submitted because DND does not transfer fingerprint records.

The security clearance of an individual may be duplicated among multiple organizations providing the following criteria have been met:

For more information, refer to duplicate requests under Section A—Administrative information of How to complete the personnel screening, consent and authorization form.   

Note 2

Individuals will retain their security clearance even if it is a higher level than the organizational clearance held by the organization requesting the duplication, until the next update cycle. When the clearance is due to be updated, the individual's security clearance level will be reassessed based on their current needs.

257. Inability to grant or denial of security clearance

If it is not possible to get background information to cover the last 10 years or if significant adverse information arises during the process of a security clearance, the applicant must be notified by the CSO or ACSO, unless the information is exempt from disclosure under the Privacy Act), and given the opportunity to explain the circumstances.

After reviewing the security assessment, if the deputy minister, PSPC denies the granting of a PSC, PSPC's CSP must:

258. Personnel security clearance records

Safeguarding and disposal

  1. Because of the sensitivity, security-screening documentation containing personal information must not be retained in the organization's personnel files, but rather in a separate security file and safeguarded appropriately
  2. The CSO or ACSO must maintain a current listing of all employees who have been granted a security clearance for tracking and updating purposes
  3. In accordance with access to information guidelines issued by the Treasury Board Secretariat, security clearances under access to information bank personnel security clearance, shall be destroyed 2 years after an employee leaves the institution for which the security clearance was conducted

Submission of Personnel security screening forms (manual process)

A submission must include:

  1. 1 copy of the personnel security screening form to initiate the process of a security clearance or to advise of a change of marital status
  2. 1 copy of the security clearance form for requests at the classified level (Secret, Top Secret or COSMIC Top Secret)
  3. a copy of either the:
    • electronic fingerprint service provider's receipt
      • fingerprint applicant request form (must include the 20-digit document control number (DCN))

Refer to Mandatory electronic fingerprints for more information.


Photocopies of the above-mentioned forms with original signatures may be used as required. Clear, legible facsimiles are acceptable.

Learn how to submit requests, forms and other documents for contract security.

259. Reports

Change of circumstances and behaviour report

An employer or employee who becomes aware or has reasonable and probable grounds to suspect that circumstances, which prevailed when the individual was granted a PSC, have changed and could adversely affect that person's reliability, trustworthiness or loyalty, or who for any reason doubts the reliability, trustworthiness or loyalty of a person or notices unusual behaviour that may be cause for security concern (like drug or alcohol misuse, sudden or marked changes in financial situation):

  1. must forward a complete report of the change of circumstances through their manager to the CSO or ACSO, who must forward it on to PSPC's CSP
  2. may deny that individual access to sensitive information and assets until the situation is resolved
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