The Canada Border Services Agency seized 415 fraudulent passports and visas last year as people tried entering the country with fake documents.
The agency outlined the numbers in documents tabled this week in the House of Commons.
Conservative MP Glen Motz asked the government in early February for a monthly breakdown of fake passport discoveries, as well as a breakdown by country represented on the passports, and a breakdown by the last country of embarkation (the last country the person was in before landing in Canada). He requested the same for faked visas.
India was by far the worst offender when it came to fake passports in 2016, with officials seizing 81 fraudulent Indian documents over the course of the year.
When asked why that might be, CBSA spokesperson Nicholas Dorion responded only that, “It is not a practice of the CBSA to speculate on reasons why one passport is more commonly used fraudulently versus another.”
There were also 28 fake Canadian passports seized, followed by 16 from Mali, 12 from Italy, 11 from the United Kingdom and 10 from both Nigeria and China. Twenty-eight fake passports are listed as “unknown” in terms of country of origin.
When it came to visas, there were 52 fraudulent documents discovered in total last year. All except one (from Burundi) were fake Canadian visas.
According to CBSA, people who use fraudulent documents to seek entry to Canada might be inadmissible for a variety of reasons. “They may not necessarily pose a public safety threat to Canada and Canadians,” wrote Dorion in an email.
“A person overseas without proper documentation may be prevented from boarding a flight to travel to Canada. At the border, persons intercepted with fraudulent documents may be arrested and removed from Canada.”
When the documents were broken down by last country of embarkation, it revealed that a significant chunk of the passengers had managed to get on a plane with their fake documents in an airport in Europe. Thirty-six of them boarded in the U.K., for instance, while 28 boarded in France and 30 in Germany. Twenty-seven more were last processed in the United States.
CBSA would not speculate as to why these people were not screened out at the foreign airports. The agency did, however, mention that it has its own officers stationed at strategic locations around the world, with the aim of preventing people who are inadmissible from entering Canada.
Canada welcomes tens of millions of visitors each year. In December 2016 alone, there were 551,000 trips to Canada made by residents of overseas countries other than the United States. U.S. residents accounted for an additional two million trips to Canada that month.