Full Body Scanner

Generic "stick" figure image from full body scanner

A full body scanner is used to reveal objects, including weapons and explosives that could be concealed under clothing. The technology is safe and effective. If you do not wish to undergo a full body scan, you may request a physical search.

When a passenger is scanned, the screening officer sees a generic figure that has no identifying features.

What about my privacy?

There are no privacy concerns with the full body scanner. If the scanner reveals an area of concern, it will be highlighted on the generic figure and the screening officers will use standard resolution procedures. CATSA consulted with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) throughout the development of the full body scanner initiative. For more information, contact priv@catsa.gc.ca.

Is it safe?

The scanner works by projecting low-level radio frequency (RF) energy over and around the passenger’s body. Health Canada's research concludes that the energy emitted by the scanner is within Canada’s RF exposure guidelines and does not pose a risk to health and safety in single or repeated exposures. As the energy used is non-invasive, it is safe for pregnant women as well as passengers with pacemakers or surgical metal implants (e.g. plates, screws).

To be scanned, you must be able to walk through the scanner unassisted and lift your arms fully above your head. If you have a medical condition that may require special attention during the screening process or are unable to lift your arms above your head, you should let the screening officer know before the screening process begins.

Put all of these items in a bin (place smaller items in your carry-on): 

  • Outer layers of clothing (jackets, coats, sweaters, scarves and hats)
  • Large or bulky shoes/boots
  • Belts and large jewelry such as watches, bracelets and necklaces
  • Everything from your pockets and any items you are carrying in your hands (including wallet and passport).

You can also take the following precautions to ensure you don’t set off the alarm:

  • Limit jewelry to small earrings, wedding bands/engagement rings, eyeglasses
  • Wear clothing without snaps, metal buttons, or studs
  • Remove hidden body piercings before you fly


Image of hand above heads - duration of 5 seconds required

When you enter the scanner, stand with your feet apart and arms extended over your head (without fingertips touching). The scan takes about five seconds.

When the process is complete, exit the scanner as directed by the screening officer and await further instruction. If you set off an alarm, you will have the opportunity to remove any objects in the area(s) of concern and be rescanned. However, if the alarm cannot be resolved, a physical search will be conducted.

For more information, please consult:

Information from the manufacturer

Full body scanner (PDF)

Health Canada