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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Canada to Launch New Verified Traveler Program This June

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will soon be launching a verified traveler program that will offer a new screening experience for eligible travelers. The program will allow those who have undergone extensive background checks to enjoy benefits at select security screening checkpoints across Canada.

The new Verified Traveller program will replace the current Trusted Traveller program by June 21, 2023. Dedicated Verified Traveller screening lines will be available at select domestic and international checkpoints in the following airports:

  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport
  • Calgary International Airport
  • Winnipeg International Airport
  • Toronto-Pearson International Airport T1 and T3
  • Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

It is perhaps surprising that Ottawa International Airport has not also been selected for the program’s launch and this omission may cause some confusion among travelers. The Ottawa Airport Authority said it was disappointed and will be seeking information regarding the inclusion criteria.

The new Verified Traveller program is intended to help ease congestion over time, as use of dedicated Verified Traveller lines grows. The new lines provide eligible travelers with select benefits at security screening checkpoints, such as keeping laptops, large electronics and compliant liquids and gels in their carry-on, and keeping their shoes, belt and light jacket on. Eligible travelers include:

  • Members of NEXUS and Global Entry;
  • Active members of the Canadian Armed Forces and U.S. military, including reservists, with valid ID;
  • Canadian aircrew and airport workers with Restricted Area Identification Cards;
  • International aircrew (in uniform) with valid airline ID; and
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, Canadian police officers and constables with a badge and proper photo identification issued by their respective organizations.

The Verified Traveller program allows children who are 17 years of age and younger, and adults who are 75 years of age and older, to accompany verified travelers through security, provided they are on the same reservation.

Several airports will also offer verified travelers front-of-the-line service and additional benefits at transborder checkpoints (including flights to the U.S.). 

“CATSA plays a crucial role in keeping our air sector safe,” said Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport. “As the sector entered recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how important it was to have a smooth and efficient security screening regime for air passengers. This new Verified Traveller program builds on our $1.8 billion investment for CATSA in Budget 2023.”

Budget 2023 proposes to provide $1.8 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, to CATSA to maintain and increase its level of service, improve screening wait times, and strengthen security measures at airports. The funding will seek to improve CATSA’s wait-time-service-levels, particularly at peak periods, without compromising aviation security. Funding would also be used to enhance the security of Canada’s non-passenger screening program and to support CATSA’s ability to meet increased demand as passenger volumes grow.

In addition to the new federal program, individual airports in Canada have also been investing in technology and processes to enhance security screening as the country deals with a return to pre-pandemic traveler numbers. Toronto-Pearson International for example has fast-tracked its modernization plans with the acquisition of contactless check-in and boarding processes, a new partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency to deploy biometric e-gates, and the installation of new digital technology at check-in, gates and baggage areas to replace the current generation of self-service tech as it nears the end of its life.

Find out more about the Verified Traveller program at CATSA

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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