Candidate Resources

Security Clearances – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Federal Government Security Clearance?

A: Security Clearance is a status awarded to individuals who intend to work directly or indirectly in certain positions within the Federal Government of Canada. Security Clearance is awarded after successful completion of security screening by the Government of Canada.

Q: What is the purpose of Federal Government security screening?

A: The purpose of security screening is to assist the Government of Canada in preventing individuals who pose a threat to the security of Canada from obtaining access to sensitive government sites, assets or information.

Q: Who needs to hold a Federal Government Security Clearance?

It is mandatory for all persons intending to work for a Government of Canada organization or agency, (such as a Federal Department or Crown Corporation) to hold a valid Security Clearance.

Under the Policy on Government Security (PGS), employees of the Government of Canada, members of the Canadian Forces or persons under contract to a federal government department who, in the performance of their duties, have access to classified government assets or information are required to hold a Security Clearance.

Q: What are the different levels of Security Clearance?

A: There are three levels of clearance, as defined by the Policy on Government Security (PGS): Enhanced Reliability (Level I), Secret (Level II) and Top Secret (Level III). The level of Security Clearance required is determined by the sensitivity of information or assets an employee is required to access in the performance of their duties.

Q: What does the Security Clearance process involve?

A: The process for obtaining security clearance at all levels involves verification of personal information with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) database. For Top Secret clearance, interviewing of the applicant is required. Top Secret clearance may also require further investigation, including interviews of friends, neighbours and employers, as well as consultations with law enforcement or other security and intelligence partners.

Q: How long does it take to obtain a Security Clearance?

A: The process for obtaining an Enhanced Reliability (Level I) Security Clearance is approximately three (3) weeks. For a Secret (Level II) Clearance, applicants can expect processing times of approximately nine (9) months. The process for a Top Secret (Level III) Clearance is typically in excess of twelve (12) months.

Please note that all Security Clearance applications are processed on a case by case basis. Application times vary and may be substantially longer. An application may also be denied. Promaxis has no ability to influence Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) on the speed or final outcome of any application.

Q: What could cause my Security Clearance to take longer than normal to process?

A: The processing of your Clearance may be delayed if:

1) You have lived outside of Canada in the past 5 years, the RCMP needs to verify your addresses and any criminal records. Fingerprints and additional information may also be required. This can take over 1 year, depending on the facilities in the country where the check is being completed. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is not able to conduct background enquiries for every country. Some countries do not have the required facilities to conduct a background check, and/or they will not provide information to other countries.

2) The application forms were completed incorrectly, or were missing mandatory information.

If Public Works requires further details to complete your background check, Promaxis will contact you with further instructions. Please remember to watch your email account for correspondence regarding your clearance.

Q: How long will my Security Clearance be valid for?

A: Security Clearances are valid up to a maximum of ten (10) years, at which point a new application for a Security Clearance must be initiated.

The agency that sponsored your certificate or the department who granted the certificate may, without your consent or knowledge, rightfully terminate the Clearance within the 10 year period if they no longer need it to guarantee your security status after you leave their employment. A clearance is valid until the expiration date only if your sponsoring company keeps it active.

Q: How do I get a Security Clearance?

A: If you are applying for a job directly with the Government of Canada and a government Security Clearance is a condition of employment, contact the Human Resources representative of the hiring government department.

Alternatively, a prospective employee can be sponsored by an independent staffing agency or recruitment firm, or other accredited supplier of services to the Federal Government of Canada. Where an applicant’s experience and qualifications are identified by a Promaxis Recruiter as a good fit for a specific opportunity, Promaxis may sponsor a new application for a Security Clearance at the appropriate level.

You cannot initiate your own Security Clearance.

Q: I want to apply for a job, but I’m not sure I have a Security Clearance. How can I check this?

Your Security Clearance status can be verified by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). PWGSC will only accept inquiries regarding your clearance from the sponsor of your clearance. If your clearance was processed by Promaxis and you require information regarding this, please call us on 613-737-2112 or speak with your Promaxis Recruiter. Responses from PWGSC generally take 2 business days.

Q: I am applying for a Federal Government position with Promaxis. What information will I need to provide?

A: Promaxis will request some or all of the following items of personal information, including full legal name, date of birth, security document file number, level(s) of active clearance(s) and expiry date(s) of active clearance(s).

Q: How will Promaxis use the information I provide? / Who will see my personal information? 

A: Promaxis will use your information to verify the validity and status of your Security Clearance with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).

Promaxis holds a Top Secret Facility Clearance, meaning that all of your sensitive personal information is supervised by a government-Authorized Security Officer. All documents are securely shredded when disposed of. We will not hold confidential documents containing your personal data without your consent.

Q: What happens once my Security Clearance application is processed? / How can I obtain a copy of my Security Clearance briefing form?

A: Promaxis will receive a copy of your Clearance briefing form from Public Works. We will send you a copy of the briefing form by email. You must then print, sign and return the form to Promaxis. Please check your email regularly. Otherwise, please call us on 613-737-2112, and we will supply you with a copy. Please note: Promaxis can only request copies of Clearances for which we are the sponsor.

Q: Will it cost anything me to obtain a Security Clearance?

A: Promaxis and PWGSC will not charge an administrative fee for Security Clearance requests.

There may be costs to the applicant in obtaining additional documents from third party organisations, such as overseas government departments.

There is no obligation to obtain a Security Clearance and the process can be cancelled at any time should the applicant no longer wish to proceed, or should the applicant fail to provide the required information and documents.

Q: My question isn’t answered here. Where can I find additional general information about Federal Government Security Clearance?

A: For more information, visit the Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) (http://ssi-iss.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/) official website.



Promaxis Systems Inc. is not affiliated with the Federal Government of Canada in any way. The information contained within this section is intended for general informational purposes only. Promaxis does not guarantee accuracy of the information provided. For accurate and up-to-date information, always refer to official Federal Government of Canada websites and other official resources.