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Canada Place cruise terminal implements cutting-edge facial biometric technology for passenger processing

June 18, 2024

Canadian-first facial biometrics for cruise will provide fast, secure and seamless processing for U.S. and Canadian passengers embarking on a trip at the Port of Vancouver terminal

Vancouver, B.C.: The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to introduce facial biometric technology for passengers embarking on a cruise at the Canada Place terminal.

The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s first seaport to introduce facial scanning for Canadian and U.S. passengers boarding cruise ships, with the technology expected to enhance passenger experience, terminal efficiency and border security.

“We’re excited to partner with U.S. authorities to implement this state-of-the-art passenger processing technology—which will help us provide a fast, secure and convenient experience for passengers embarking on a cruise,” said Peter Xotta, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal Canadian agency mandated with enabling trade including cruise through the Port of Vancouver. “Our ongoing partnerships with government and industry are crucial to enhancing the award-winning Canada Place cruise terminal and ensuring it can continue to meet growing demand while enhancing the experience of passengers. We want to thank the CBP for working with us to implement facial biometric processing—a Canadian-first innovation for a cruise terminal that will support a more efficient and secure border verification process.”

The facial biometric technology will fully automate manual document identity verification checks for those boarding a cruise that require admission into the U.S., such as trips to Alaska. Passengers will have a photo taken as part of the cruise ship boarding process at Canada Place, which will be compared to the photo from their pre-trip travel documentation within seconds.

“CBP and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority are excited to announce a new identity verification process incorporating facial biometrics that offers a secure, touchless experience at embarkation for cruise passengers,” said Diane Sabatino, acting executive assistant commissioner, office of field operations, at CBP. “This is another example of the value and impact of innovation through public-private partnerships that will enable CBP to reallocate resources to maximize border security while enhancing the overall passenger experience.”

The Canada Place facial biometric program has been customized for the terminal’s operational needs, including supporting open loop pre-inspection for passengers boarding in a Canadian marine environment who will travel on to destinations in the U.S. It replaces the previous automatic passport kiosks introduced in 2015 for Canadian and U.S. travellers.

The technology supporting the new program was provided by Pangiam, a company, and was developed in close collaboration with CBP and the port authority.

“ is proud to engage with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and CBP for yet another deployment of its secure biometrics,” said Kevin McAleenan, president of, and former acting secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former commissioner of the CBP. “’s technologies being deployed in Vancouver have been purpose-built to enhance passenger experience, terminal efficiency and border security. Our approach uses state-of-the-art computer vision and AI to capture accurate facial recognition in real time, and instantly transmits to secure biometric matching services, ensuring immediate passenger identity verification.”

The new facial biometric program will be operated with support from SSA Marine, which provides operational management at the Canada Place cruise terminal on the port authority’s behalf.

“SSA Marine is delighted to collaborate with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and CBP to introduce facial biometrics technology at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal,” said Elise Ferguson, general manager – Vancouver at SSA Marine. “This innovative system promises to streamline and elevate the passenger experience, offering enhanced convenience and efficiency for travelers visiting the terminal while maintaining the integrity of border security.”

“The cruise line industry values the partnership between the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and U.S. CBP, and their work to further secure and innovate cruise travel,” said Donnie Brown, Cruise Lines International Association’s senior vice president, maritime policy. “Biometric facial comparison technology streamlines the identity verification process and decreases wait times for passengers. CLIA and member cruise lines remain committed to working with our partners to leverage technology solutions to make cruise travel more efficient, safe and secure.”

Anyone who wishes to opt out of the facial biometric process may notify a Canada Place cruise terminal representative as they enter the primary inspection point and will instead be required to present valid travel documents for a manual inspection.

Similar facial biometric technology currently operates at 20 U.S. cruise terminals for passenger debarkation upon return to the U.S. Canada Place is the first cruise terminal where facial biometric technology is being performed on embarkation.

The Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver is one of North America’s premier homeport destinations, with 1.27 million passenger visits expected in 2024. Vancouver has been a homeport for Alaska cruises for more than 30 years, acting as the base for one-way and round-trip cruises through the Inside Passage. As a homeport destination, the Vancouver cruise industry injects an average of more than $3 million into the local economy for each ship visit.

Media contact

Alex Munro, senior communications advisor


[email protected]

About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Port of Vancouver

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the shared stewardship of the Port of Vancouver. Like all Canada Port Authorities, we are accountable to the federal minister of transport, and operate pursuant to the Canada Marine Act with a mandate to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, while protecting the environment and considering local communities. The port authority is structured as a non-share corporation, is financially self-sufficient and does not rely on tax dollars for operations. Our revenues come from port terminals and tenants who lease port lands, and from port users who pay various fees such as harbour dues. Profits are reinvested in port infrastructure. The port authority oversees the use of port land and water, which includes more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,500 hectares of land, and approximately 350 kilometres of shoreline. Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, the Port of Vancouver extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet, bordering 16 municipalities and intersecting the traditional territories and treaty lands of more than 35 Coast Salish Indigenous groups. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo. Enabling the trade of approximately $300 billion in goods with between 140 and 170 countries each year, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.

About the U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.

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