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Foreign nationals now have right to access personal information under Privacy Act

July 13, 2022

As of July 13, 2022, foreign nationals outside Canada will have the right under the Privacy Act to access their personal information being held by federal government institutions.

Privacy Act Extension Order No. 3 gives foreign nationals abroad the same access rights currently held by Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as federal inmates and anyone else physically located in Canada. Non-Canadians outside the country are now able to gain access to their information, as well as request corrections where it is believed there is an error or omission. They will also have the right to engage the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if they have a complaint with respect to the exercise of these rights.

Until now, foreign nationals outside Canada have had to generally employ a third-party service, often for a fee, to make a request under federal access legislation (such as, the Access to Information Act) for the personal information being held in their file by a federal institution.

Being able to make that request on their own behalf should give them more timely access to their own information. They will also now have the right to submit complaints to the Privacy Commissioner if they experience delays, feel they are being denied access or their information is inaccurate and denied a correction.

Extending universal access to personal information holdings brings Canada's federal public sector privacy regime closer in line with major global counterparts, such as the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Related reading:

Accessing your personal information – federal government

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