Understanding the security screening process

When you apply to the government for a position, you may have to complete a security screening to receive security clearance.  There are various types of security screenings, each requiring you to provide different information.

We hope the following will be useful to you throughout the process.

Remember that you’ll have to provide some personal and confidential information. Keep this information in a safe place or in a password-protected document. Don’t share it with anyone other than the hiring manager or the personnel security officer in charge of your security file.

Prepare your information ahead of time so that you can quickly respond to information requests and receive your security clearance.

Application process steps

  1. Apply for the position.
  2. Interview for the position.
  3. If you’re selected, complete the request for information and forms the department sends you.
    • The sooner you provide the department  the information, the sooner they can start the security screening process.
    • Depending on the type of clearance you require,  the process can take three to four months.

Note: The security screening process starts once you’ve accepted a position. You can’t receive clearance before accepting a job offer. Indeed, applicants must be sponsored by an employer.

Types of security clearance

Students usually have to go through clearance at different levels, including reliability status, secret clearance and top secret clearance.

Here are the standard and enhanced security screening activities for each level.


  • Some employers have their own security screening processes, beyond CSIS security assessments (e.g., RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Department of National Defence).
  • Fingerprinting is now a part of the screening process 


Forms for Security Screening

Review this information closely so you know what you may need for a security screening and can provide it quickly.  This will increase your chances of receiving your clearance in time for your placement.

Basic documents needed for the security screening process

Some departments require that you send forms by mail and there may be delays with Canada Post.

Keep all forms with personal information in a secure environment. You don’t want to share this type of information unless it’s for a security clearance.

Also needed:

Additional Information

Your name:  Unless you’ve changed your legal name, use the name on your birth certificate. 

The average time to receive a security clearance is between four and 10 weeks (longer for top secret).  The process varies depending on the information required and the external partners or stakeholders.

Out of country documentation

If you’re a Canadian citizen but have lived or studied abroad for over six months during the period covered by your background check, you may have to provide an out of country certificate (certificate of good standing). 

Some departments may also require additional documentation such as: 

  • Proof of residency and/or employment such as a lease, proof of home ownership, home/car insurance, utility bills, proof of income, or proof of employment and income (employment letter  with duration of employment and pay stub) or tax documents
  • An original, official country or state police certificate or letter (also known as a good conduct certificate or judicial record extract) from law enforcement agencies in the country in which you resided
    • The certificate(s) should provide a summary of your criminal record or a declaration of the absence of any criminal record.
  • Passport(s) (photocopies of all pages of valid passport(s)) 
  • Driver’s licence (photocopy — from Canada or an applicable country, if available)
  • Travel documents such as receipts or airline documentation that account for travel and duration of travel outside of Canada (photocopies)
  • Credit report or financial statements (e.g., bank account) (if credit card, loan or other financial accounts have been opened under your name abroad since you were 18) 

Submit all police certificates or other documents in English or French. If documents are in another language, you must provide certified translations by a professional recognized by one of these two organizations : 

Government of Canada resources