Presenting Air Canada's digital identification system
Air Canada is introducing digital identification technology through the Air Canada mobile app, which allows you to access multiple touchpoints along your journey without needing to show your boarding pass or government ID.
Our digital identification technology takes measurements of the face and creates a numeric representation called a faceprint. The faceprint is then compared to verify a person’s identity.
Digital identification is currently available for:
- select customers* travelling from Vancouver International Airport
- customers eligible to visit our Maple Leaf Lounge and Air Canada Café (at Toronto Pearson Int. Airport)
* Customers eligible to use digital identification to board a flight departing from Vancouver International Airport will be informed via email.
To get started:
Download and install the latest version of the Air Canada mobile app from the App Store or Google Play, then use it to create your digital profile for use with our new digital identification system.
How to create your digital profile:
After you have downloaded the Air Canada mobile app, follow these three steps :
Open the Air Canada mobile app, tap the menu in the top left, then 'Digital identification'.
Tap 'Add a digital profile', then consent to the information provided by tapping 'Create a digital profile'.
From there, follow the prompts to complete your digital profile.
What are the benefits of using digital identification?
- Your digital profile and credentials are encrypted and stored only on your device for up to 36 hours on the day of travel.
- Only you can share them with your consent, and they are immediately destroyed after use.
- Enroll, create, authenticate, and control the use of your digital profile from the comfort of your home.
- Say goodbye to hands full of passports and boarding passes at the airport.
- Reduce touchpoints and physical contact by using your digital identification instead of exchanging documents and devices between yourself and airport agents.
How digital identification works:
When creating your digital profile for digital identification on the Air Canada mobile app:
- The app will prompt you to take a picture of your passport, scan the passport chip, then take a selfie. Facial recognition will take measurements of your face in both images, compare them, and authenticate you if the photos match.
- If successful, a digital profile will be created on your device; your digital profile, which is sent to your device, will contain only your selfie, a unique identifier, and details from your passport.
- Your facial biometrics are immediately deleted and will not remain part of your digital profile.
Frequently asked questions
What is the Air Canada digital identification system?
Air Canada’s digital identification (digital ID) is a system that uses facial recognition technology through the Air Canada mobile app to allow you to board your flight and access the Maple Leaf Lounge and the Air Canada Café without having to show your boarding pass or government ID.
What is the benefit of using the digital ID?
The benefit of using the Digital ID is that it is a contactless way to travel through certain airport identity touchpoints, like the boarding gate, Maple Leaf Lounge, and Air Canada Café, without having to present your boarding pass and government ID. During your day of travel, you’ll be able use facial recognition cameras at various touchpoints in the airport for a seamless and efficient travel experience.
Is digital ID secure?
Digital ID is secure because your personal information is encrypted during transmission and storage. All biometrics created within digital ID are instantaneously destroyed after use, except those retained by Air Canada in encrypted form for 36 hours on the day you travel. For more information about the security features of digital ID, see the Air Canada digital identification Privacy Notice.
How does facial recognition technology work?
Facial recognition technology takes biological measurements of the face and creates numeric representations called a faceprint. Faceprints are compared to verify a person’s identity. Measurements of human physical features like the face are called biometrics.
How does digital ID use my facial biometrics?
Digital ID uses your facial biometrics to verify your identity at two points: Once, when you create your digital profile on your device using the Air Canada mobile app, and then, afterwards, each time you use facial recognition at the airport on the day you travel.
How are my facial biometrics used to create my digital profile?
Your facial biometrics are used to verify you as a person in a government ID, so that a digital profile can be created.
When you create your digital profile, you will upload a selfie as well as the photo and other information from a government ID to the Air Canada mobile app. Biometric technology will verify you as the person in the government ID by creating faceprints from the image in your government ID and your selfie and comparing them. If the faceprints match, these faceprints are immediately destroyed, and you are assigned a unique identifier, which is not based on your biometrics. The unique identifier is not biometric information.
The unique identifier is transmitted back to your mobile device and stored with your selfie and information from your government ID (such as your name, date of birth, and document type and number). This is your digital profile, to be used for digital ID when you travel. Your digital profile does not contain any biometric information.
How are my facial biometrics used when I travel?
When you check in using the Air Canada mobile app, you will be asked to consent to the use of your facial biometrics to verify your identity at the airport. If you consent, the selfie from your digital profile is sent to a "day-of-travel" gallery and a faceprint is created. Your selfie is immediately deleted.
When you present your face to a camera at certain airport identification touchpoints, a faceprint will be created from your live facial image to compare with faceprints in the day-of-travel gallery. If there is a match, you may board your flight or enter the Maple Leaf Lounge or Air Canada Café. The faceprint from your live camera image is instantaneously deleted.
When can I use the Air Canada digital ID?
You can use the digital ID for flights operated by Air Canada and departing from participating Canadian airports, including if you are connecting on a flight operated by Air Canada, to access the Maple Leaf Lounge, Air Canada Café, and at the boarding gate to board your flight.
Is digital ID linked with a government-sponsored program?
No, digital ID is not related to any government-sponsored program like NEXUS, Global Entry or US CBP Mobile Passport Control (MPC). It is strictly an optional, consent-based Air Canada program.
Who can create a digital profile?
All Air Canada mobile app users who are 18 years of age and older can create a digital profile, even before a flight is booked on Air Canada, and regardless of country of citizenship, who have a working embedded electronic chip passport. Passports issued by all governments which meet these requirements are accepted during the creation of a digital profile.
Minors under 18 years of age may not enroll in digital ID but may still be required to show their boarding pass and government ID.
What do I need to create a digital profile?
You will need a mobile device compatible with Apple iOS 13+ and Android 7.0+ operating systems equipped with a camera and NFC tag reader. You will also need to download the latest version of the Air Canada mobile app and your government ID to complete the authentication process.
How do I create a digital profile?
Follow these instructions in the Air Canada mobile app, under digital identification:
- Open the Air Canada mobile app
- Tap the ‘Home’ tab from the secondary menu in the top left.
- Select ‘Personal data’
- Select ‘Digital identification’ from the ‘Personal data’ section
Which government ID can I use to create my digital profile?
All international government-issued ePassports and Canadian ePassports (a biometric passport with an electronic chip) may be used to create your digital profile. Canadian driver’s licences will be available for use at a later stage.
Does the document I used to create my digital profile have to be the same document I travel with?
No. You can use a different identification document when you travel. However, please ensure that it meets transborder or international requirements for entry.
A biometric passport with an electronic chip must be used to create your digital profile. Canadian driver’s licences will be available to use to create digital profiles at a later stage. While other forms of government ID may be accepted in some travel situations, Air Canada recommends all customers use and carry with them a valid passport for air travel.
Can I travel on Air Canada without using the digital ID?
Yes, digital ID is voluntary. If you don’t wish to participate, you can continue to check in and provide your identity document and boarding pass as usual.
If I create a digital profile, am I required to use it every time I travel?
No, you are free to use your boarding pass and government ID instead.
I am having trouble creating a digital profile. What should I do?
Should you experience any issues enrolling in this program, you can contact us through the feedback form within the Air Canada app. If problems persist, you can still travel through the airport and board your flight by showing your government ID and boarding pass to an airport agent.
Using digital ID for your trip
How do I use digital ID for my trip?
To use digital ID for a trip, use the device where your digital profile was created on the Air Canada mobile app to check in for your Air Canada flight. When applicable, you will be asked to confirm that you’d like to use facial recognition for that trip by tapping the ‘Yes, I consent to the use of my facial biometrics” button.
If multiple passengers check in with the same booking reference number on the same device, each individual passenger must themself consent to the use of their biometrics. Even though several digital profiles may be stored on one device, no one may consent on behalf of another person.
If you check in using another device or channel (e.g. kiosk or agent at the airport), you can still add your boarding pass(es) on the mobile device containing your digital profile, and when applicable, you will be given the option to use your digital profile.
Do I still need to bring my passport/travel identity document and my boarding pass if I am using digital ID?
Yes, you’ll still need to bring your passport and/or other travel identity document with you and have it accessible in your carry-on baggage to meet entry and exit requirements for international destinations, or for boarding purposes when connecting on flights operated by a partner airline. Security check points, immigration and customs requirements may vary depending on your destination. A passport and/or NEXUS card will still be required for transborder travel. Other government ID may be used for domestic Canadian travel where digital ID is not available.
Do I need to present the Air Canada mobile app to the facial recognition camera?
No. If you consented to the use of facial recognition when you checked in on the Air Canada app, you only need to present your face.
Do I need to remove my mask or glasses when taking my selfie or using facial recognition cameras?
Glasses can be worn in your live selfie and while using facial recognition cameras. However, you will be required to remove your mask.
What personal information is in my digital profile?
Your digital profile consists of your unique identifier, your selfie, and information from your government ID, such as your name, date of birth, and document type and number. It does not contain any biometric information.
Who has access to my digital profile?
Only you have access to your digital profile, which exists only on your mobile device unless you share information from it with Air Canada during check-in so you can use digital ID on the day you travel. If so, information from your digital profile is shared only with Air Canada’s Canadian biometrics technology provider, who processes your personal information in Canada only, strictly in accordance with our instructions and solely for purposes of digital ID.
Information you share with Air Canada from your digital profile is deleted from Air Canada’s systems 36 hours after your flight departs.
Who has access to my facial biometrics?
With your consent, Air Canada’s biometric technology provider generates your facial biometrics (faceprints) to create your digital profile and verify your identity at the airport on the day you travel. It has access to and uses your facial biometrics strictly on Air Canada’s instructions and solely for the purposes of the digital ID.
Our provider does not retain any copy of your biometrics created and used for the authorized purposes. The faceprints generated to create your digital profile are deleted immediately after use for that purpose. The faceprint created by the airport facial recognition camera is immediately deleted after use. The faceprint created from your selfie and stored in the day-of-travel gallery is deleted within 36 hours of the departure of your flight.
What personal information is retained by Air Canada for digital ID?
Air Canada and its provider do not retain any personal information collected from you and used to create your digital profile and verify your identity at the airport on the day your travel. This information is deleted. Air Canada’s biometric technology provider retains a copy of the unique identifier that it assigns you for your digital profile. The faceprint created from your selfie and stored in the day-of-travel gallery is retained for 36 hours after your flight departs.
How is my personal information protected in digital ID?
Your personal information is encrypted and transmitted to and from your mobile device using a secure protocol. Your digital profile remains in your care, and you control it. On the day of your trip, your selfie and unique identifier from your digital profile are sent to Air Canada using the same secure protocol.
The biometric faceprint in the day-of-travel gallery is encrypted and deleted within 36 hours.
What are the privacy risks of using digital ID?
The privacy risks of using digital ID are minimal.
First, the digital profile creation is secure. The unique identifier created from your selfie and government photo ID is a random number that does not contain any identifying information or biometrics. Your government ID and selfie are not retained, except on your device.
The faceprints generated to create the digital profile are immediately deleted once a match is made between your selfie and your government ID photo. No copy is retained by Air Canada or its technology provider, and none is transmitted to your digital profile.
The faceprints generated on the day of travel are also secure. The faceprint created from the selfie sent to the day-of-travel gallery is encrypted. In the unlikely event that someone acting in bad faith breaks into the day-of-travel gallery, the only information they could access is the faceprint, which is a series of numbers. It is not possible to infer someone’s identity from a faceprint which cannot be reverse engineered without the algorithm that generated it. In the unlikely event that someone acting in bad faith gained access to the algorithm and faceprint, the only information they could access is a degree of similarity between the faceprint and a photo they might have, which has no real-world application.
How do I delete my digital profile?
To delete your digital profile, go to the ‘Digital identification’ section in the ‘Personal data’ area of the Air Canada mobile app, then swipe right-to-left on the digital profile you’d like to remove. Once you delete it from your mobile device, no copy exists, and you will no longer be able to use digital ID unless you choose to enrol again.
Air Canada’s digital identification privacy notice
Air Canada digital identification Privacy Notice
This notice explains what personal information, including biometric information, is collected, used, and shared for the purposes of Air Canada’s digital identification system (digital ID).
With digital ID, you can use facial recognition instead of your government-issued photo ID (government ID) and boarding pass to board eligible Air Canada flights in Canada or instead of your boarding pass to enter eligible Maple Leaf Lounges or Air Canada Cafés in Canada. Facial recognition technology takes biological measurements of your face, which are called biometrics. Use of Air Canada’s digital identification system is entirely voluntary and available to adults aged 18+, and you can always board our flights using your government ID and boarding pass or enter our lounges or cafés using your boarding pass, if you so wish.
The digital ID process
- Authentication to create a digital profile
To use digital ID, you must first create a digital profile on the Air Canada app. The creation of your digital profile means you have been authenticated as the person identified in a valid government ID. Your digital profile does not contain biometric information.
- You will use your mobile device to take pictures of your government ID and a live selfie.
- The Air Canada app sends your selfie as well as the photo and information from the government ID to Air Canada’s third-party technology provider (provider)
- With your express consent, the provider uses biometric technology to authenticate you as the person in the government ID. It does this by taking measurements of your face in your selfie and in the government ID photo and creating numeric representations of them. These numeric faceprints – your biometrics – are compared and then immediately destroyed.
- If the faceprints match, you are assigned a unique identifier number, which is not based on your biometric faceprints. The unique identifier is not biometric information.
- The unique identifier is transmitted back to your mobile device for storage with your selfie and information from your government ID (such as your name, date of birth, and document type and number). Together this is your digital profile, to be used for digital ID when you travel (see #2 below).
- Air Canada and its provider do not retain any copy of your selfie, the photo or information from your government ID, or the biometrics (faceprints) used for authentication to create the digital profile. The provider does retain a copy of your unique identifier.
- Other passengers aged 18+ may create a digital profile on your device, following the same steps.
- Verification of your identity at the airport
If you’ve created a digital profile (#1) and use the Air Canada app to check in to an eligible Air Canada flight in Canada, you will be asked to consent to the use of your facial biometrics at airport identification touchpoints. If you consent:
- The app will send your selfie and unique identifier from your digital profile along with your flight information (such as booking reference number, flight #, and all other flight information) to Air Canada. Biometric technology will be used to measure your face in the selfie and create a numeric representation called a faceprint. Your selfie is then immediately deleted.
- The faceprint will be stored in a database called a day-of-travel gallery.
- Your unique identifier will be sent along with your flight information to a separate Air Canada database, meaning your faceprint is separate from your flight information.
- If you still wish to use digital ID once at the airport, you will present your face to a camera at the airport touchpoint.
- A faceprint will be created from your live facial image to be matched with a faceprint in the day-of-travel gallery. The faceprint from your live facial image immediately disappears once used.
- If there is a match, the system communicates that the identity of the person with the unique identifier associated with your flight information has been verified, and you are then permitted to board your flight or enter the Maple Leaf Lounge or Air Canada Café.
- No copy of your live facial image or the biometric faceprint used to verify your identification is retained by Air Canada or its provider. Your faceprint in the day-of-travel gallery is automatically deleted within 36 hours of the departure of your flight.
- Your digital profile remains on your device in the Air Canada app unless and until you delete it.
As the use of digital ID is voluntary, you may still choose to be identified using your government ID even if you consented to the use of digital ID when checking in.
If another passenger wishes to create a digital profile on your mobile device and afterwards wishes to use their facial biometrics for the digital identification system, they must themself click the applicable consent buttons using your device. Neither you nor anyone else may consent on behalf of another person.
Restrictions on the use and disclosure of your personal information
When you are creating your digital profile or using digital ID at the airport, Air Canada and its providers use the personal information you share with us strictly for such purposes. No personal information, including your biometric information, is transferred outside of Canada. Your personal information is only shared with Air Canada’s providers; it is not disclosed to any other third parties. Air Canada’s providers process your personal information, including your biometric information, strictly in accordance with Air Canada’s instructions.
Protection of your personal information
The personal information used to create your digital profile is transmitted to and from your mobile device using a secure protocol (TLS 1.2 or higher). Your Android or iOS vault is used to store your digital profile, which is protected by AES 256 encryption. Your digital profile remains in your care, and you control it. On the day of your trip, your digital profile and flight information are sent to Air Canada using the same secure protocol.
Deletion of your personal information
You may delete your digital profile from your mobile device at any time. To delete your digital profile, go to the “Digital identification” section in the “Personal data” area of the Air Canada mobile app, then swipe right-to-left on the digital profile you’d like to remove. No copies will remain unless you have just checked in to a flight and consented to the use of your facial biometrics for digital ID at the airport, in which case your digital profile will have been sent to Air Canada, as described above. In all cases, once the flight in question departs, the digital profile you shared and the information in the day-of-travel galleries is automatically deleted within 36 hours of the departure of your flight. If you wish to use Air Canada’s digital identification system in the future, you will have to re-enrol.
No copy of your government ID, selfie, live facial image, or biometric faceprints is retained by Air Canada or its providers.
The Air Canada Privacy Office is responsible for overseeing what we do with your information and for monitoring compliance with this policy and data protection laws. If you have concerns or further questions, you may contact the Privacy Office in writing at:
Air Canada Privacy Office
Air Canada Centre
ZIP YUL 1276
7373 Côte-Vertu West
St. Laurent, Quebec H4Y 1H4
Telephone: (514) 422-6020
Facsimile: (514) 422-2641
Please note that we will need to take reasonable steps to validate your identity prior to disclosing any personal information via the above communications channels.