How to Become a Border Services Officer

Canadian Border Services Officer Banner
Canadian Border Services Officer Banner

A border services officer (BSO) is a federal law enforcement officer and is one career option for individuals who attain a criminology and policing degree. BSOs work for the Canada Border Services Agency, which under legislation enacted in 2003, has responsibilities that include

  • Controlling the movement of people, animals, plants and other goods into and out of Canada,
  • Apprehending, detaining and removing people who are inadmissible and pose a threat to Canada, including terrorists and war criminals,
  • Collecting applicable duties and taxes on imported goods.

BSOs receive training at the CBSA College in Rigaud, Quebec, beginning with a four-week online program that is followed by an 18-week program covering subjects ranging from criminal law to Canadian immigration and customs regulations.

How to Become a Border Security Officer in Canada?

Before being accepted as a BSO trainee and eventually become a CBSA officer, the candidate must meet three basic requirements:

1. Complete a secondary school education or accepted equivalency.

2. Successfully complete the Canadian Firearms Safety and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Courses and pass the applicable tests.

3. Possess and maintain a licence to drive a motor vehicle in Canada.

Mobility is the key to joining border services

Applicants must be aware of and accept that they are volunteering for service anywhere the CBSA needs them. This could include rural and remote areas, and mobility is a strict condition of employment. CBSA offices are located in every territory and province. Applicants should be ready for the likelihood that they will need to relocate to somewhere in Canada that could be totally new to them.

Qualities and ethics of a BSO

BSOs must be thoroughly committed to the Agency's charter and detailed code of conduct. BSOs are federal public servants who must dedicate themselves to respect, courtesy and fair application of the law.

How to apply?

BSO trainee job openings appear on the website. Candidates who meet all requirements must provide a résumé and proof of a secondary school diploma. The application must clearly show how the candidate meets all BSO requirements before he or she can be invited to take the required standardized tests, which cannot be waived, except for university and college graduates with a degree from WLU, for example.

What's next?

Second-language evaluation: The BSO induction process continues with a second-language evaluation for qualified French speakers. Candidates proficient in just one language may be considered for a corresponding position — i.e., an English- or French-essential position.

Personal interview: Based on the Agency’s needs, the candidate will undergo a rigorous interview assessing, among other things, the candidate's values, integrity, judgment, communication abilities, and how the person deals with difficult situations.

Physical standards evaluation: In the BSO Induction Training Program, candidates must be able to perform physically demanding use-of-force training. Candidates must complete the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE) test during the selection process.

Security clearance screening: At some point during the BSO selection process, the CBSA will request that candidates undergo a security clearance screening process. The process begins via email and requires the candidate to respond with fingerprints and other documentation listing personal references. Obtaining a security clearance is an absolute condition of employment as a BSO.

Meeting psychological requirements: Candidates can expect psychological testing and evaluation, which evaluates suitability to carry a duty firearm. The goal is to identify potential judgment or behavioural issues that could affect the candidate's ability to exercise sound judgment in stressful situations.

Passing a medical examination: BSOs must pass a Category III preplacement evaluation conducted by a physician designated by Health Canada. The exam includes confidential health questionnaires, a full clinical history, as well as vision and hearing testing.

Why get an online degree from WLU?

Whether you are considering a career as a BSO or wish to take advantage of advancement opportunities in that specialty, continuing or completing your online education is a wise choice. Wilfrid Laurier University offers a combined Honours BA in Criminology and Policing degree that is 100% online. Need more information? Simply fill out the information form on the site to receive a program guide and get connected to WLU, or set up an appointment to talk to one of our enrolment advisors on your schedule.