Advance Passenger Information / Passenger Name Record Data
Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data allow the CBSA to perform risk assessments on air travellers and crew while they are on their way to Canada.
Commercial airlines are required by law to provide the CBSA with API and available PNR data for all travellers before a flight arrives in Canada.
Advance Passenger Information
API data is basic information about passengers and crew members. It includes your name, date of birth, gender, citizenship, and travel document data (e.g. passport number). This information is available from the machine-readable zone of your passport. Commercial airlines collect additional API data when you check in including a unique passenger reference number or crew member identification. API data also includes your flight information such as flight number, arrival and departure times.
Passenger Name Record
PNR data is information which comes from commercial airline's departure control and reservation systems. PNR data collection varies from one airline to the next. It can include: the type of ticket you have, the date of travel, the number of bags, and your seating information. Commercial airlines do not have to gather or provide any additional information not already collected for their own business purposes.
Interactive Advance Passenger Information
The Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) process allows commercial airlines to provide API data to the CBSA prior to take-off. This information helps commercial airlines determine whether or not you have the appropriate travel document to enter Canada (for example, Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization [eTA]). Once the CBSA receives the information, the CBSA electronically sends a "board" or "no-board" message to commercial airlines before the individual boards a flight to Canada. Upon arrival in Canada, all travellers must still present themselves to a Border Services Officer, and present the appropriate travel documents.
Visa-exempt foreign nationals need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. Exceptions include U.S. citizens, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (USLPR) and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA.
Foreign nationals from select visa-required countries may also travel to or through Canada by air using an eTA, if eligible.
Be prepared: Apply for an eTA before you book your flight to Canada. Most applicants get approved within minutes. However, some applications can take several days to process so don’t wait until the last minute. Get help if you have questions before, during or after you apply.
Travellers who apply for an eTA are advised to be cautious in all dealings with companies that claim to offer help in getting an eTA. These companies are not operating on behalf of the Government of Canada. Many have established websites that charge a fee to provide information and submit eTA applications.
This Government of Canada website is the official place to apply for an eTA.
How data is used
API/PNR data is used to identify high-risk individuals so the CBSA can closer question and examine them when they arrive in Canada. The CBSA also uses API data to help commercial airlines determine whether or not passengers have the appropriate travel document (for example, a visa or eTA) to enter Canada.
API/PNR data may also identify potential illegal activity such as:
- terrorism or terror-related crimes
- human smuggling or trafficking
- narcotics smuggling
- other serious transnational crimes
This information helps the CBSA to more efficiently process travellers entering Canada.
The CBSA follows strict guidelines to protect the privacy of passengers and crew members. The data is stored in a secure system accessible only by authorized CBSA officers. The use of this data is subject to an audit process and users are liable for any misuse.
A summary of the API/PNR Program and its privacy implications can be found on the official Info Source web page.
API/PNR data is kept for three-and-a-half years from the date of receipt and then destroyed. If the subject of API/PNR data is under active investigation, the information is transferred to a CBSA enforcement database and kept for up to six years.
Does the CBSA share API/PNR data?
API is only disclosed under the disclosure regime of s. 107 of the Customs Act and s. 8 of the Privacy Act.
When PNR data relates to terrorism or serious transnational crime, the CBSA may share it on a case-by-case basis with other government departments or foreign states. The CBSA will release the minimum amount of data necessary and where the other government departments or foreign states will provide the same type of protection offered by the CBSA. Refer to D1-16-3, Guidelines for the Access to, Use, and Disclosure of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) Data API/PNR program legislation.
Several pieces of legislation govern the CBSA's authority to collect API/PNR data, including:
Request your data
You can request your API/PNR data from the CBSA. You may only access your own information and that of your children under the age of 18.
If you are under the age of 18, you must have a parent or legal guardian sign the access request form.
There is no fee to access your API/PNR data.
How do I request my information?
To request your information, or to correct the data, print and complete the CBSA's Traveller's API/PNR Information Request form and mail it to the following address:
Canada Border Services Agency
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
333 North River Road
14th Floor, Tower A
In most cases, once the CBSA receives your request, you receive a written response within 30 days. Some requests may take longer than 30 days to process due to the complexity of the data.
Correct your information
If you believe that your API/PNR data is incorrect, you can request a correction. You must provide documentation to support your request. The CBSA may decide to not make the correction, and will add a note to your API/PNR data explaining that a correction was requested and refused.
For air carriers
All commercial air carriers must provide the CBSA with API data and all available PNR data for every passenger and crew member, travelling to Canada on their aircraft. This information must be provided at the last international airport before arriving in Canada.
The CBSA considers all aircraft operators engaged in the commercial transportation of persons or goods, regardless of size, to be a commercial air carrier. Examples of commercial air carriers include operators of:
- scheduled air service
- unscheduled charters
- cargo flights
As a commercial air carrier, you must provide API/PNR data to the CBSA in an approved format using an authorized method of transmission. Options include:
- connecting directly to the CBSA data acquisition system
- arranging for a service provider to connect on your behalf
- sending the data via email
- using the CBSA Internet API Gateway (IAG)
- using a combination of any of the above
Technical parameters for these methods are detailed in the "Carrier Messaging Requirements (CMR)" document, which is available upon request.
Commercial air carriers intending to begin service to Canada should contact the CBSA at least six months before service commences to arrange for the provision of API/PNR data.
Commercial air carriers that fail to comply with the requirement to provide API/PNR data correctly may be subject to administrative monetary penalties under the Customs Act.
IAPI Standard Operating Procedures for Commercial Air Carriers and Service Providers
The IAPI Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) document provides guidance to commercial air carriers and service providers on IAPI requirements, what to do in case of a no-board message, and expectations during a system outage. To request a copy, contact the API/PNR mailbox.
Memorandum D2-5-11, Administrative and Operational Guidelines for Commercial Air-mode Carriers for the Processing of Prescribed Traveller Information Pursuant to the Requirements of the Canada Border Services Agency
This memorandum outlines the CBSA requirements and administrative policies regarding the provision of prescribed API and reservation information about any person being transported to Canada by commercial air carriers.
Commercial Air Carrier Technical Support
The API/PNR Program Support (APPS) line provides support to commercial air carriers on the API/PNR Program including data provision issues, occurrences/outages, testing and certification, on-going maintenance, as well as technical support. Upon request, account managers will provide the "Carrier Messaging Requirements (CMR)" document and a list of certified service providers to the commercial air carrier. Commercial air carriers can contact the APPS line by:
- 1-866-4API-PNR (1-866-427-4767, toll-free within Canada and the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii – does not include U.S. territories)
- 1-613-941-2800 (international callers, charges apply)
- Email: email@example.com
The Air Carrier Support Centre (ACSC) assists commercial air carriers that have on-boarded to the IAPI platform. The ACSC is available 24/7/365 and helps commercial air carriers determine whether passengers have the required travel documentation to enter Canada.
Contact the API/PNR Program Carrier Account Support Team for contact information.
Note: The APPS and ACSC do not offer service to individual travellers. Travellers should consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website, nearest mission or Visa Application Centre for information on the status of their immigration documentation or questions about the eTA.
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