Guidelines for commercial air carriers for the processing of prescribed traveller information
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This memorandum has been revised to provide more precise policy direction to commercial air carriers. This update clarifies requirements for the Advance Passenger Information / Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) and Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) programs, and reflects the June 2020 implementation of the Air Exit program, which applies to outbound flights. In addition, a new note has been added regarding the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
This memorandum outlines the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) requirements and administrative policies regarding the provision of prescribed Advance Passenger Information (API) for inbound flights and Air Exit Information for outbound flights to and from Canada, and Passenger Name Record (PNR) information for inbound flights, with respect to persons on board or expected to be on a conveyance coming to or departing from Canada by commercial air carriers.
Customs Act, section 93(1) and 107.1
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, section 148(1)(d)
Guidelines and general information
1. Under Canadian law, all commercial air carriers are required to provide the CBSA with prescribed information relating to all persons on board or expected to be on the commercial conveyance travelling to or departing Canada prior to, and at, the time of departure from the last point of embarkation of persons before the conveyance arrives in or departs Canada despite the final destination or transit port. This information will be used by the CBSA to perform a risk assessment of passengers and crew while they are en route to Canada, or in the case of outbound flights, prior to their departure from Canada. Additionally, inbound information will be used by the CBSA’s Interactive API (IAPI) process to validate, prior to departure, that all incoming air travellers hold a valid prescribed document to enter Canada or are exempt from that requirement, and that they are not considered to be prescribed persons. Failure to provide the prescribed information within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner may result in the assessment of a monetary penalty.
2. Subsection 93(1) and 107.1 of the Customs Act gives the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness the authority to require certain persons to provide information to the CBSA. This authority is delegated to specified officials of the CBSA. The information to be provided and the conditions relating to the provision are set out: for 93(1) in the Exit Information Regulations (EIR); and for 107.1 in the Passenger Information (Customs) Regulations (PICR).
3. An officer of the CBSA also has the authority to require the provision of the prescribed information under paragraph 148(1)(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Section 269 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) sets out the persons who are required to provide the information, the information to be provided and the conditions for the provision of the information.
4. The CBSA is committed to remaining in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Annex 9 Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) on Facilitation. The SARPs provide an international benchmark for which the CBSA, Government of Canada, and other Governments and their customs and/or immigration authorities can meet to ensure that the PNR data received from commercial air carriers is processed and retained according to international standards.
Accountability for provision
5. For inbound flights, the CBSA requires all commercial air carriers to provide the prescribed information under subsection 107.1 of the Customs act, as described in the PICR, and the prescribed information under IRPA paragraph 148(1)(d), as described in section 269 of the IRPR. As the prescribed information is the same under both Acts, one transmission of the prescribed information satisfies both obligations notwithstanding further transmissions to provide required updates. While the CBSA API formats (such as UN/EDIFACT PAXLST) allows the commercial air carrier to provide PNR elements within passenger API submissions, the CBSA mandates that the passenger’s Departure Control System (DCS)/PNR data elements must also be provided within the allowed PNR formats (i.e. PNRGOV EDIFACT or CBSA XML). The CBSA currently only collects API and PNR in the air mode. Therefore, the CBSA does not require commercial air carriers in other travel modes (e.g., land, rail, or marine) to provide the prescribed information.
6. For outbound flights, the CBSA also requires all commercial air carriers to provide the prescribed information under subsection 93(1) of the Customs Act, as described in the EIR. Note only information that is required should be submitted. PNR data is not required for outbound flights and will be rejected.
7. In accordance with established best practices set out in the World Customs Organization’s Guidelines on Advance Passenger Information and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Guidelines on Passenger Name Record Data, the CBSA holds the operating carrier of each flight responsible for the provision of all the prescribed information.
8. The CBSA expects the commercial air carrier operating flights inbound to, or outbound from, Canada to work with relevant industry partners to ensure that all of the prescribed information is provided within the prescribed timeframes and in the prescribed manner.
Commercial air carrier
9. The terms “commercial carrier” and “commercial transporter” are defined in the PICR, EIR and the IRPR, respectively. As the definitions are functionally identical, and given that this document refers specifically to air travel, the term “commercial air carrier” is used throughout this document in place of both terms.
10. A commercial air carrier is an operator of a commercial aircraft. A commercial aircraft is an aircraft, regardless of size, which is used in the commercial transportation of persons or goods, where the persons or goods are conveyed:
- (a) from outside Canada to a place inside Canada (inbound flight) or
- (b) from a place outside Canada (inbound flight) in transit through Canada to another place outside Canada (outbound flight) and
- (c) from a place inside Canada to another place outside Canada (outbound flight)
11. Examples of commercial air carriers include operators of a scheduled air service, scheduled and unscheduled charters, air taxi and air commuter operations, and air cargo flights.
12. For greater certainty, the CBSA requires all commercial air carriers, including regional and local trans-border operators, to provide the prescribed information in the prescribed time and manner. This requirement applies regardless of the number of persons on board or the frequency of a commercial air carrier’s operations. Commercial air carriers are expected to provide the prescribed information for flights even if no commercial passengers or goods are on board (e.g., “ferry flights”, which include both service and repositioning flights).
13. Operators of aircraft which do not fall within the above definition of “commercial aircraft” are not currently required to provide the prescribed information. Examples of non-commercial aircraft include those used for personal transportation or corporate/business aircraft, where there was no exchange of money for transportation. The Presentation of Persons Regulations provides definitions of private and corporate aircraft. General Aviation is addressed in greater detail in Departmental Memorandum D-2-5-12, Telephone Reporting for General Aviation and Marine Pleasure Craft.
14. For commercial air carriers who operate both non-commercial and commercial flights, it is the specific circumstances of the flight, not the ownership of the aircraft, which determines if there is an obligation to provide the prescribed information to the CBSA. For the purposes of the API/PNR, IAPI and Air Exit programs, in these circumstances, a flight is considered “commercial” if payment has been exchanged for transportation of persons or goods or the aircraft is being moved for service or repositioned for a subsequent commercial flight.
15. A state directly operating a flight (e.g., a military flight) is not required to provide the prescribed information. However, where a state has paid for a commercial charter flight, the commercial charter carrier is required to provide the information. Commercial charter carriers should work with their state clients to ensure that the prescribed information is provided to the CBSA.
16. For greater clarity, in situations where the military is directly involved in the operation of a flight, e.g., a civilian crew operating a military aircraft to Canada with a military call sign, the CBSA would still consider it to be a military flight and there would be no requirement to provide the prescribed information to the CBSA, unless requested to do so by the CBSA under exceptional circumstances.
17. Commercial air carriers transporting foreign nationals for the purpose of transiting through Canada are required to provide the prescribed information to the CBSA, including commercial air carriers who are participants of the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) and China Transit Program (CTP).
18. In certain situations, the CBSA may not require the provision of API and PNR data. These situations include:
- (a) diversions to or from Canada due to emergencies or weather and
- (b) flights transiting through or stopping in Canada for the sole purpose of refuelling where:
- (i) passengers are in possession of the documents required in order to enter the United States and their flight is bound for that country or
- (ii) passengers were lawfully admitted to the United States and their flight originated in that country
The CBSA will not assess any administrative monetary penalties regarding the non-provision of API and PNR data for such flights; however, it is required that an occurrence report is filed.
19. To avoid undue delays for flights undertaken for the sole purpose of emergency assistance, the CBSA requires that the commercial air carrier only provide the prescribed information in their possession prior to departure. Emergency assistance flights include:
- (a) emergency medevac flights transporting a patient where the patient’s life is in imminent danger and medical intervention is urgently required and
- (b) flights carrying emergency response or disaster relief personnel, such as firefighters, for the purpose of combatting severe wildfires
20. In the case of emergency assistance flights, should all the prescribed information not be available at the prescribed times, the commercial air carrier must complete an Occurrence/System Outage Report and provide the missing information as soon as it is available. If these conditions are met, the CBSA will not assess any administrative monetary penalties for the late provision of API and PNR data for these flights.
21. For inbound flights, the law requires commercial air carriers to collect and provide specific prescribed information, as described in paragraphs 5(a)-(d) of the PICR and in paragraphs 269(1)(a)-(d) of the IRPR. The prescribed information, to be provided about each person on board or expected to be on board the conveyance includes the following:
- their surname, first name and any middle names, their date of birth, their citizenship or nationality, and their gender
- the type and number of each passport or other travel document that identifies them and the name of the country or entity that issued it
- their reservation record locator number, if any and
- the unique passenger reference assigned to them, if any, by the person who is required to provide information, or in the case of a crew member who has not been assigned one, notice of their status as a crew member
This prescribed information is commonly referred to by the international commercial airline industry as API data. Further guidance regarding the submission of API elements that are currently accepted and processed by the CBSA’s programs is published in the CBSA’s Carrier Messaging Requirements CMR document, which is provided to commercial air carriers upon registering with the program and updated versions are made available on an annual basis.
22. For inbound flights, the law requires commercial air carriers to collect and provide specific prescribed information as it relates to the traveller’s conveyance, as described in paragraphs 5(f) of the PICR and paragraphs 269(1)(f) of the IRPR. The information includes:
- the date and time of take-off from the last point of embarkation of persons before the conveyance arrives in Canada or, if the person is carried or is expected to be carried on board the vehicle by water or land, the date and time of departure from the last point of embarkation of persons before the conveyance arrives in Canada
- the last point of embarkation of persons before the conveyance arrives in Canada
- the date and time of arrival of the conveyance at the first point of disembarkation of persons in Canada
- the first point of disembarkation of persons in Canada and
- the flight code identifying the commercial transporter and the flight number
23. For outbound flights, the law requires commercial air carriers to collect and provide specific prescribed information before departure from Canada, as described in paragraph 11(1) of the EIR. The prescribed information to be provided about each person on board or expected to be on board the conveyance includes the following:
- the surname, first name and middle names, the date of birth and the sex of each person expected to be on board the conveyance
- the unique passenger reference of each person, other than a crew member, expected to be on board the conveyance and
- the flight code that identifies the commercial carrier and the flight number of the conveyance
Further guidance regarding the submission of this information can be found in the CBSA’s CMR document.
24. For outbound flights, the law requires commercial air carriers to collect and provide specific prescribed information after departure from Canada as described in paragraph 11(3):
- the unique passenger reference of each person, other than a crew member, on board the conveyance
- the flight code that identifies the commercial air carrier and flight number of the conveyance and
- the last place inside Canada from which the conveyance departed, regardless of whether persons boarded it at that place, and the date and time of that departure
25. Additionally, for inbound flights, pursuant to paragraph 5(e) of the PICR and paragraph 269(1)(e)of the IRPR, the law requires a commercial air carrier to provide any information collected about each person on board or expected to be on board an inbound flight that is in its reservation systems or that of its agent. This information is commonly called PNR data by the international commercial airline industry, and may include information aggregated from various sources (e.g., global distribution systems, airline reservation systems, and departure control systems).
26. For inbound flights, commercial air carriers are only required to provide the PNR elements they have collected for their business purposes that are included in Appendix A. Further guidance regarding the PNR elements that are currently processed by the CBSA’s program is published in the CMR document.
27. The prescribed information must be provided for every person whom a commercial air carrier expects to carry and/or is carrying to or from Canada. This includes fare-paying passengers, non-fare paying passengers, all crew whether on-duty or off-duty (e.g., dead-heading or relief pilots), and any other person who is on board or expected to be on board the aircraft when it departs for or from Canada.
28. For inbound flights, pursuant to paragraph 5(f) of the PICR and paragraph 269(1)(f) of the IRPR, commercial air carriers are also required to provide prescribed information detailing the commercial air carrier’s flight information. It is critically important that this prescribed contextual information is correct and matches for both API and PNR. Inaccuracies in flight number, arrival times, or ports of departure / arrival can cause the information to be processed incorrectly by the CBSA’s systems. The CBSA expects commercial air carriers to update or correct this information without delay if they become aware that it is incomplete or inaccurate, as per Section 8 of the PICR and subsection 269(6) of the IRPR. The CBSA does not expect commercial air carriers to update scheduled departure times.
Additional traveller information for inbound flights
29. For inbound flights, certain secondary document information may be required by the CBSA in order to determine if a traveller is exempt from electronic travel authorization (eTA) or visa requirements. As this information allows the CBSA to provide commercial air carriers with board/no-board messages that more accurately reflect the circumstances of a traveller, the CBSA recommends that commercial air carrier systems include a mechanism that allows them to accept and process more than one document for each traveller. For example, commercial air carriers should be able to provide Canadian Permanent Resident card information to the CBSA as a secondary document, as required.
30. Commercial air carriers that are unable to provide secondary document information in the manner requested may contact the CBSA’s Air Support Centre (ACSC) for assistance in determining the traveller’s board/no-board eligibility (for the CBSA Immigration result) for the IAPI process.
31. For inbound flights, pursuant to paragraph 269(3)(a)-(b) of the IRPR, commercial air carriers are required to provide the prescribed API information to the CBSA at the following intervals:
- (a) For passengers: not later than the time of check-in and
- (b) For crew members: no later than one hour before the time of departure to Canada
32. For inbound flights, commercial air carriers are required to provide the prescribed PNR information at the time of departure of the flight from the last place persons boarded the conveyance before arriving in Canada. Only one submission of PNR information is required. The CBSA discourages commercial air carriers from providing the prescribed PNR information before the time of departure due to the risk of last minute changes which may result in inaccuracy of the information provided.
33. For inbound flights, pursuant to paragraph 7(3) of the PICR and paragraph 269(5) of the IRPR, commercial air carriers are required to provide a “close-out” message to the CBSA no later than 30 minutes after the time of departure to identify the unique passenger reference numbers and PNR locator (if collected) of the passengers who are actually on board the inbound flight.
Note: "Time of departure" is defined as the time of take-off from the last point of embarkation of persons before the conveyance arrives in Canada.
34. For outbound flights, pursuant to paragraphs 11(1) and 11(2) of the EIR, commercial air carriers are required to provide the prescribed information to the CBSA for flights from Canada at the following intervals:
- (a) 72 hours before scheduled departure up to check-in, a subset of traveller information (if the information becomes known)
- (b) at check-in, if the information relates to a person, other than a crew member, expected to be on board the conveyance; or
- (c) one hour before the conveyance’s scheduled time of departure, if the information relates to a crew member expected to be on board the conveyance
35. For outbound flights, pursuant to paragraph 11(3) of the EIR, commercial air carriers are required to provide a “close-out” message to the CBSA no later than 30 minutes after the time of departure from Canada that includes the following:
- (a) the unique passenger reference of each person, other than a crew member, on board the conveyance
- (b) the flight code that identifies the commercial carrier and the flight number of the conveyance and
- (c) the last place inside Canada from which the conveyance departed, regardless of whether persons boarded it at that place, and the date and time of that departure
36. In certain circumstances, commercial air carriers will be required to provide the CBSA with updates to the status of a flight or changes related to a passenger’s reservation. These circumstances include:
Inbound or outbound flights:
- instances where an inbound or outbound flight has been cancelled but the commercial air carrier has previously provided the CBSA with information for a specific flight
- instances where one or more, but not all, of the passengers within a reservation has cancelled their itinerary to or from Canada and
- instances where an entire reservation is cancelled
Note: Commercial air carriers should only provide cancelled reservation messages or reduction in party messages to the CBSA in the circumstances outlined above. Other changes to the reservation details for a traveller (for example, an upgraded seat) must be provided within an updated API message (if the carrier’s system can provide these elements in the API message) as well as, for inbound flights only, the PNR submission sent to the CBSA at the time of departure.
Note: If a commercial air carrier has provided the CBSA with notification of a cancelled flight, cancelled reservation or cancellation of some passengers within a reservation and the flight and/or passenger reservation is reinstated, a full data submission of API and PNR (if PNR is collected) must be provided to the CBSA. Specific technical requirements for this process are detailed in the CMR.
37. For multi-leg/progressive flights, the CBSA recognizes that commercial air carriers may provide API for all inbound travellers expected to be on board the aircraft at their point of check-in. In these cases, the flight information must include the last foreign airport before arrival in Canada and the first airport of disembarkation in Canada, and must match the departure and arrival ports provided for all API and PNR submissions for the same flight. For progressive flights transiting Canada, the inbound and outbound flight legs require separate submissions.
Message format and transmission
38. Commercial air carriers and their industry partners can establish a direct connection with the CBSA’s data acquisition system. Please note the CBSA collects a one-time connection fee for all direct connections.
39. Alternatively, commercial air carriers and their industry partners may choose to use the CBSA’s secure internet website, the Internet API Gateway (IAG). The IAG allows the provision of the prescribed information through a file upload or by using Interactive Data Entry (IDE) functionality.
40. The CBSA will also accept submissions of prescribed API data via e-mail as long as it meets the CBSA’s technical parameters for provision. Due to privacy concerns, PNR data cannot be accepted through e-mail
Note: Any entity sending data to the CBSA must refer to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to determine its responsibilities regarding security for the transmission of personal data.
41. Technical parameters for provision of the prescribed information through direct connection, the IAG or via e-mail are described in the CMR. The CMR is provided on request by the CBSA’s Carrier Account Support Team (CAST).
42. The CMR also details the CBSA’s requirements for message content and formatting. The CBSA supports the industry-standard UN/EDIFACT (PAXLST), PNRGOV EDIFACT and CUSRES message formats, as well as CBSA-specific ones including the CBSA XML and the Comma-Separated Variable (CSV) formats. While the CBSA API formats (such as UN/EDIFACT PAXLST) allows the commercial air carrier to provide PNR elements within a passenger API submission, the CBSA mandates that the passenger’s DCS/PNR data elements must also be provided within the allowed PNR formats (PNRGOV EDIFACT or CBSA XML).
43. The CBSA does not accept non-electronic transfers (e.g., faxes) of the prescribed information.
44. Commercial air carriers and their industry partners may make arrangements with a service provider to provide the information on their behalf. Should the commercial air carrier decide to make use of a service provider, it is important to note that the obligation remains with the commercial air carrier to ensure that the information submitted complies with all the CBSA regulatory requirements. The CBSA maintains a list of service providers certified with the Agency for API and/or PNR data transmission, which is available upon request. The CBSA will also certify any new service provider identified and authorized by the commercial air carrier that registers with the CBSA and completes certification testing.
Interactive API (IAPI) process – Automated board/no-board message
45. While the CBSA requires that API data be provided for all passengers and crew on board or expected to be on board an inbound flight to Canada or an outbound flight from Canada, a board/no-board message will only be sent for passengers.
46. For inbound flights, upon receipt of API data for each passenger, CBSA systems will run automatic queries to determine if the passenger requires and possesses a document prescribed under IRPA or if they are exempt from that requirement. Based on this initial validation process, the CBSA will provide commercial air carriers with the CBSA Immigration result via an automated board/no-board message. For outbound flights, CBSA systems will issue a default board (Z) for the CBSA Immigration result.
47. The CBSA is providing an automated board/no-board message to the commercial air carrier, who is ultimately responsible for making the determination on whether or not to board the passenger (as it relates to the CBSA Immigration result).
48. Crew members on an aircraft are exempt from IAPI processing. A crew member is a person who is employed on an aircraft to perform duties during a flight related to the operation of the aircraft or the provision of services to passengers or to other members of the crew. Crew travelling to work on another flight (unless identified as passengers), regardless of whether they are carried by their carrier of employment, are also exempt from the IAPI process provided that they are identified as crew members in the message submission.
49. In-flight security officers, in-flight mechanics, and any other person who is on board the aircraft for a purpose other than to perform duties that relate to the operation of the aircraft or to provide services to passengers or members of the crew are not crew members and are not exempt from the IAPI process described in paragraph 46. See Appendix B for common positions onboard a flight and whether they are considered crew or passengers according to IRPR for IAPI purposes.
Note: While board/no-board messages containing CBSA Immigration results will not be sent for any travellers identified as “crew”, it is imperative that the carrier ensure that all travellers on board a flight to Canada hold a prescribed document to enter Canada or are exempt from that requirement in order to avoid any potential administration fees.
Note: Specific crew-related exemptions to the eTA and visa document requirements are detailed in paragraphs 7.1(3)(d) and 190(3)(a) of the IRPR. The process for submitting the required data in these circumstances is detailed in the CMR and the CBSA Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs) for Commercial Air Carriers.
50. It is imperative that the CBSA have complete and accurate API information regarding travellers, both passengers and crew, as that information may impact the processing of that traveller by both the CBSA and the commercial air carrier. Technical specifications and timeframes for updating information are outlined in the CMR.
IAPI Process – Unsolicited board/no-board message for inbound flights
51. On occasion, based upon a further review of a passenger’s information, the CBSA may provide commercial air carriers with a subsequent, manual "unsolicited board/no-board" message to override a previous CBSA Immigration result. It should be noted that this process does not apply to outbound flights.
52. Although a passenger may obtain an automated board result, as outlined in paragraph 46, the CBSA conducts further queries to determine if the passenger has an enforced removal order and/or if the passenger is the subject of a declaration under the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Negative Discretion Authority (NDA) per section 22.1 of the IRPA.
- (a) A traveller who is the subject of an enforced removal order may require an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC) in order to be admissible to Canada. For more information on removal orders, please see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/arc.asp.
- (b) Negative Discretion refers to a foreign national who may not become a temporary resident in Canada as the Minister of IRCC is of the opinion that, due to public policy considerations, the individual should not be granted entry. The Ministerial authority is exercised via a declaration under the IRPA [subsection 22.1] for a period not to exceed 36 months. For more information on the NDA, please see: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/mandate/policies-operational-instructions-agreements/guidelines-negative-discretion-authority.html.
53. Transporters have an obligation not to carry improperly documented or prescribed persons to Canada. Consequently, in certain instances, an administration fee may be assessed against the commercial air carrier. Further information may be found in the CBSA's Guide for Transporters.
54. In general, an unsolicited board/no-board message with an updated CBSA Immigration result may be sent to the commercial air carrier no later than 30 minutes prior to the flight’s scheduled time of departure to Canada.
55. In exceptional circumstances as determined by the CBSA (such as potential threats to public safety), the unsolicited board/no-board messages with an updated CBSA Immigration result may be issued at any time prior to departure.
56. Commercial air carriers may also choose to send an electronic acknowledgement to the unsolicited board/no-board message upon receipt of the unsolicited board/no-board message with an updated CBSA Immigration result, if their system functionality permits. The submission of an acknowledgement to the unsolicited board/no-board message is optional for the IAPI program. However, as per the CMR, the acknowledgement to the unsolicited board/no board message is mandatory for the Passenger Protect Program (PPP) and the unsolicited board/no-board message with an updated PPP Inhibit/Cleared result.
System outages and changes
57. Operating commercial air carriers, or their industry partners, who are planning system changes that might affect their information processing or transmission systems, are expected to notify the CBSA at least six months before the changes are implemented. The CBSA will work with the carrier and their partners to ensure that there is no interruption in the provision of the prescribed information. System changes do not relieve the commercial air carrier of the obligation to provide the prescribed information.
58. Operating commercial air carriers are strongly encouraged to have a secondary method of transmission for the provision of the prescribed information in the case of a primary transmission outage. A system outage experienced by the commercial air carrier, the CBSA or otherwise does not relieve the commercial air carrier of their obligation to provide the prescribed information. The CBSA’s Outage procedures are contained in the CBSA SOP for Commercial Air Carriers, which is available upon request.
59. The CBSA also expects operating commercial air carriers to provide corrected information where there is a change to contextual information (e.g., time of arrival or destination) due to a system outage.
New commercial air carriers
60. Operating commercial air carriers who intend to commence service to Canada will need to:
- (a) ensure that they obtain the proper licenses and certifications required for flying to Canada before they commence inbound and/or outbound operations. For further information, carriers should contact the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and Transport Canada (TC) and
- (b) contact the CBSA at least six months before commencing flights in order to establish and test their arrangement for the provision of the prescribed information. New commercial air carriers are required to provide the prescribed information on their first arrival; no exception or phase-in period exists
Notice to travellers
61. The CBSA encourages commercial air carriers to inform their clients and personnel about the provision of prescribed information to the CBSA and about the CBSA’s programs. Legislation in place in other jurisdictions may require commercial air carriers to provide notice to travellers when the commercial air carrier provides information to the CBSA. The CBSA recommends that a notice to travellers contains the following:
The CBSA is authorized to collect advance arrival information (under subsection 107.1(1) of the Customs Act and paragraph 148(1)(d) of the IRPA), as well as advance departure information and exit records (section 93 of the Customs Act and section 11 of the EIR). For travellers coming to Canada, these persons may be subject to investigation, and may undergo closer questioning or examination upon arrival. The CBSA also uses the prescribed information to validate, prior to departure, that all incoming air travellers hold a prescribed document to enter Canada or are exempt from that requirement, or are a prescribed person. For departing travellers, the CBSA will use advance exit information only to better identify high-risk persons and goods that depart, or intend to depart, Canada. CBSA entry and exit records may be shared with other government departments for immigration, social benefits or law enforcement purposes. All travellers may request a copy of the prescribed entry and exit information provided about them by making a request in writing to the CBSA. Any traveller who believes that the prescribed information provided about them was incorrect may make a request in writing to the CBSA to have the information corrected. Any traveller may complain in writing to the CBSA if they believe that the CBSA has unfairly refused to provide access to the prescribed information provided about them, has not corrected the prescribed information provided about them, or has otherwise incorrectly handled the prescribed information provided about them. Travellers can obtain more information by consulting the API/PNR and IAPI website and the Entry/Exit website.
62. The CBSA recommends that any travel notice be incorporated into websites or other documentation in a manner that would ensure that travellers researching or making reservations for flights to or from Canada are aware of the CBSA’s API/PNR, IAPI and Air Exit programs.
Reporting for CBSA inspection
63. The requirement to provide the prescribed information does not relieve commercial air carriers of their presentation and reporting obligations upon arrival in Canada, as per the Presentation of Persons Regulations. Procedures for access to airports may be found in Departmental Memorandum D2-5-1, Charter Access to Airports.
64. Commercial air carriers who fail to comply with the requirement to provide the prescribed information in the prescribed manner and in the prescribed timeframes are subject to administrative monetary penalties under the Customs Act. The penalty is assessed on a per-flight basis.
65. Non-compliance occurs when a commercial air carrier fails to provide information as stipulated in the PICR or EIR, for persons (passengers and crew) on board a conveyance within the prescribed timeframes.
66. The CBSA considers that the prescribed information has been provided if the information is:
- (a) Complete: All the API for the crew and passengers are provided. If collected, all the passengers DCS/PNR data is provided. The close-out message identifying all passengers onboard is provided.
- (b) Accurate: The prescribed information correctly describes the crew and passengers. The CBSA expects commercial air carriers to verify travel documents and correct any errors in the system.
- (c) Timely: The CBSA requires sufficient time to process the prescribed information for the programs purposes identified above. The information is considered “timely” if it is received, as follows:
- For passengers' API and Air Exit Information, not later than the time of departure to or from Canada, and before departure from Canada once the information becomes available.
- For crew API and Air Exit Information, not later than one hour before the time of departure to or from Canada.
- For the passengers’ DCS/PNR, not later than at the time of departure to Canada (the CBSA does not collect PNR information for outbound flights departing Canada).
- For the close-out message, not later than thirty minutes after the time of departure to or from Canada.
- (d) Readable: The information must be provided in an approved format that can be processed by CBSA systems, as per the requirements detailed within the CMR.
- Note: For example, a commercial air carrier may be subject to an administrative monetary penalty should components of the prescribed information in the API message be altered for the sole purpose of facilitating a board result for the CBSA immigration result within a board/no-board message.
67. Memorandum D22-1-1, Administrative Monetary Penalty System describes how the CBSA enforces compliance with the Customs Act and related regulations. The details of the administrative monetary penalties related to the provision of the prescribed information are published in the CBSA’s Master Penalty Document.
68. It is recommended that commercial air carriers monitor all messages from the CBSA. Failure to receive an acknowledgment (such as the receipt for an error message) or a board/no-board message, is indicative of a problem with the data transmission or the quality of the data.
69. The penalties described within this memorandum are separate from the administration fees which may be levied on commercial air carriers related to the carriage of certain categories of inadmissible foreign nationals to Canada. Administration fees are based on the IRPA and the IRPR and are described in greater detail in the CBSA’s Guide for Transporters.
70. The CBSA’s API/PNR Program Support (APPS) line is the primary point of contact for both technical inquiries and program-specific inquiries from commercial air carriers. The 24/7/635 contact details are below.
- 1-866-427-4767 (within Canada and the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii – does not include U.S. territories) or
- 1-613-941-2800 (international callers, charges apply)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Please note: E-mail inquiries are responded to between 08:00 and 16:00 ET on weekdays (except holidays).
71. The CBSA’s ACSC is available 24/7/365 only to carriers certified for IAPI, to provide assistance with CBSA Immigration result, which includes determining whether a passenger possesses the required IRPA travel documents to travel to Canada by air or if the passenger may be a prescribed person under IRPA. Calls concerning technical support or program support are not accepted by the ACSC.
- 1-844-880-6527 (toll-free within Canada and the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii – does not include U.S. territories) or
- 1-905-676-5171 (international callers, charges apply).
Note: The ACSC and APPS lines do not offer services to individual travellers. Travellers should visit the IRCC website, nearest mission or Visa Application Centre, should they require facilitation or have inquiries about the status of their immigration documentation or questions about the eTA.
72. For more information, call the Border Information Service, an automated telephone service that provides general information on CBSA programs, services and initiatives through recorded scripts.
- 1-800-461-9999 (within Canada)
- 1-204-983-3500 or 1-506-636-5064. Long distance charges will apply
- 1-866-335-3237 (available within Canada)
Please note: Agents are available Monday to Friday (08:00 – 16:00 local time/except holidays).
Passenger Name Record (PNR) Data Elements
|1. Passenger Name Record (PNR) locator code||
|2. Date of reservation||
|3. Dates of intended travel||
|4. Passenger name||
|5. Other names on PNR||
|6. All forms of payment information||
|7. Billing address||
|8. Contact telephone numbers||
|9. All travel itinerary for specific PNR||
|10. Frequent flyer information||
|11. Travel agency||
|12. Travel agent||
|13. Split/divided PNR information||
|14. Ticketing information||
|15. Ticket number||
|16. Seat number||
|17. Date of ticket issuance||
|18. No show information||
|19. Go show information||
|20. Bag tag numbers (baggage information)||
|21. Seat information||
|22. One-way tickets||
|23. Any collected Advance Passenger Information||
|25. Check-in information||
*Please note that the comprehensive list of data elements is detailed in each of the format sections of the CMR.
Crew or passenger for IAPI purposes
|Employed position on flight||Considered "Crew" or "Passenger" as per IRPR|
|Pilot in training (not fully licensed)||Crew|
|Medical Staff (attending to a patient)||Crew|
|In-flight Security Officer||Passenger|
|Loadmaster / Cargo Handler / Ground Engineer||Passenger|
|Veterinarian (attending to live cargo)||Passenger|
|Security / Cargo Escort||Passenger|
* Please note that a person is listed as crew if they are working on the current flight or are travelling to join and work on another flight (even if it’s for a different commercial air carrier).
- Issuing office
- Policy and Program Development Division,
Travellers Policy and Programs Directorate,
- Headquarters file
- Legislative references
Passenger Information (Customs) Regulations
Presentation of Persons Regulations
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
Exit Information Regulations
- Other references
- D2-5-1, D2-5-12, D22-1-1
CBSA's Guide for Transporters
CBSA Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Commercial Air Carriers (available upon request)
CBSA Carrier Messaging Requirements (CMR) document (available upon request)
- Superseded memorandum D:
- D2-5-11 dated
- Date modified: