Update on mandatory electronic fingerprints and reminders

January 27, 2017

On February 1, 2017, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) will launch the new mandatory electronic fingerprint requirement. Learn more about the new process and find answers to questions you have asked since our last communiqué.

Review the last communiqué on mandatory electronic fingerprints

Applying the new process

The new process applies to any organization that works or intends to work on Government of Canada contracts with security requirements that have been issued by or will be issued by PSPC. This process also applies to any government department who uses PSPC Contract Security Program services.

Applicants who require a new, an update (renewal), or an upgrade of their personnel security screening clearances issued by PSPC are subject to the new criminal record check process and will require electronic fingerprints.

The new process applies to all levels of security screening requests. Criminal record checks are necessary for:

Learn more about how the new criminal record check process will work

Consult the steps to submit a personnel security screening request and learn when fingerprints are required.

Mandatory electronic fingerprints

Validity of a clearance

The validity of an existing PSPC-issued personnel security clearance is not affected by the new criminal record check process.

Validity period of the criminal record check results

The criminal record check results and the associated document control number (DCN) sent to PSPC will both be valid for 1 year from the date the fingerprints were taken.

Within that year, the same document control number (DCN) can be reused for another personnel security screening request such as:

  • new
  • update (renewal)
  • upgrade

as long as the DCN was generated for a personnel security screening processed through PSPC.


A DCN cannot be transferred to or used by other departments or agencies.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) cost of fingerprinting for Government of Canada employment and contracts

The RCMP does not charge a processing fee for criminal record check for fingerprints taken for federal employment or contracts. The fingerprints applicant request form clearly indicates that fingerprints are for a government security clearance and that results are to be sent directly to PSPC.

Although the RCMP does not charge a processing fee, the third-party fingerprint service provider will charge an applicant the market rate, typically between $40 and $65, for their processing services.

How Public Services and Procurement Canada manages fingerprints

PSPC does not receive copies of applicants' fingerprints. The third-party service provider submits the fingerprints electronically to the RCMP. The RCMP uses the fingerprints to search their criminal record database, and provides PSPC with the results of that particular search. PSPC uses the RCMP results as part of its security clearance process to determine whether or not an applicant can be granted a personnel security screening clearance.

How long the Royal Canadian Mounted Police keeps fingerprints

The RCMP does not retain copies of the fingerprints in their system. Once the criminal record check results are produced and shared with PSPC, these results are deleted from the RCMP system. At no time are copies of civil fingerprints kept in the RCMP database or by a third-party service provider.

Who can access criminal record check results

Criminal record check results are protected and are used in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Policy on Government Security. Criminal record check results can be accessed only by PSPC analysts. Analysts are responsible for processing an applicant's personnel security screening request and the results are never released.

Safeguarding fingerprints taken by a third-party service provider

As part of the RCMP-accredited process, the network connection between the service provider's system and the RCMP's database has been certified and deemed secure.

Refusal by applicant to provide fingerprints for a criminal record check for privacy concerns

Starting February 1, 2017, the RCMP will only use electronic fingerprints as a means to search their criminal record database. If an individual from an organization refuses to provide their fingerprints, PSPC will not be able to complete a personnel security screening request.

Applicant's fingers cannot be electronically printed

In such a case, the company security officer should contact the Contract Security Program for further guidance.

Fingerprinting in remote locations with limited fingerprint resources

Technical solutions exist to meet the needs of remote locations in Canada, including the use of scanning technology. This allows for fingerprints to be taken on paper in remote locations and then sent to central sites where they can be scanned and submitted to the RCMP. Some agencies already use this model.

Currently, there are 515 RCMP locations across Canada and over 135 third party service providers accredited to process electronic fingerprints. These numbers will change as the RCMP continues to accredit organizations. 

To learn how to proceed with fingerprints in remote locations please consult:

Mandatory electronic fingerprints

Attend a Public Services and Procurement Canada webinar to learn about these changes

PSPC offers free webinar training for organizations bidding and working on government contracts with security requirements. To help you understand the upcoming February changes we have developed a new webinar:

Changes to the criminal record check video

The webinar is presented by subject matter experts and allows for a question and answer period at the end.

Contact us

Email tpsgc.dgspsctransformation-dobcsptransformation.pwgsc@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca, or you can contact the Contract Security Program

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