Personnel security screening overview

Explore an overview of how the Public Services and Procurement Canada's Contract Security Program (CSP) can help screen your employees. Find out who can initiate screening requests and discover what levels they can request.

About personnel security screening

The CSP conducts personnel security screening for organizations required to access sensitive government information or secure worksites to bid or work on a government contract, subcontract or lease with security requirements.

As set out in the Standard on security screening, the personnel security screening assesses an individual's reliability and loyalty to Canada. It involves:

Before initiating the personnel security screening process for your employees, your organization must first be security screened with the CSP.

Refer to organization security screening on how to get started.

Getting a personnel security screening when applying for a government job

If you are an individual applying for a job with the Government of Canada, you will be screened through the hiring department. You can contact the human resources officer of the hiring department for more information about government security screening.

Who is eligible for a personnel security screening

As of October 4, 2021, the CSP conducts personnel security screenings on:

Note 1

This applies to all request types including updates, reactivations and duplications.

Why organizations must request the security screening of their employees

A personnel security screening is required for employees who need to access federal protected or classified information, assets and work sites as part of a contract, subcontract or lease. It must be completed before work begins.

Requesting a personnel security screening in an organization

Individuals cannot initiate their own security screenings. It is the company security officer (CSO) or alternate company security officer (ACSO) who initiates a security screening request on behalf of an individual.

The CSO determines who in the organization needs to be security screened based on the:

Need-to-know principle

While personnel screening levels potentially provide access to levels of sensitive information, personnel are not entitled to access merely because of status, rank, office or level of clearance. The need-to-know principle restricts access to sensitive information and assets to those whose duties require such access; that is, to those who need to know the information.

Levels of personnel security screening

Personnel security screening levels are determined by the sensitivity of the information, asset or site to be accessed.

An organization can request the following levels of security screening for their personnel:

Conducting background checks for personnel security screening

The CSO or ACSO is required to conduct background checks as the first step in the security screening process.

Preliminary verifications

As part of the background check process, the CSO or ACSO is required to complete preliminary verifications on all employees of their organizations who require a new security status or clearance.

CSOs and ACSOs must ensure that the information submitted by the employee is both accurate and complete, in particular the following:

  • full legal name and date of birth: this can be validated by verifying the employee’s birth certificate, confirmation of permanent residence document or Canadian citizenship certificate or card
  • current address: this can be validated by verifying the employee’s driver’s license, provincial photo card, firearm license or secure certificate of Indian status
  • educational credentials/professional qualifications relevant to the employee’s position: these can be validated by verifying the employee’s official transcripts, diplomas, certificates from educational/professional institutions and/or originals of professional certification from municipal/provincial/federal licensing bodies, associations or institutions
  • employment history relevant to the employee’s position: this can be verified by contacting the employee’s previous employers to ascertain dates of employment, performance and reason for leaving employment, or by asking the employee to provide records of employment, T4s, or paystubs
  • personal character references: this can be verified by contacting 1 or more personal character reference(s) to validate the accuracy of information verified during the background check process

Note 2

The CSO or ACSO must complete these preliminary verifications, or validate that someone in the organization has verified this information as part of the hiring process.

There is no requirement yet for CSOs or ACSOs to request specific documentary evidence for the purpose of verifying an employee’s education credentials/professional qualifications and employment history, however, further guidance is being developed and will be forthcoming.

Identity verification requirement

The Standard on security screening requires that applicants provide specific types of documentary evidence of identity and that greater scrutiny is given to the evidence of identity. The purpose is to provide greater assurance that an individual is who they claim to be.

All CSOs or ACSOs must verify an employee’s identity as part of the background check process or validate that someone in the organization has verified the employee’s identity during the hiring process.

Visit about identity verification requirements for more information, including the process to verify an employee’s identity, the list of all accepted foundational and supporting evidence of identity, and guidance on how to handle special circumstances.

Visit appointing a security officer for more information on how to obtain a personnel security screening for a CSO and ACSO.

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