All I want for Christmas is…the ability to ID clients using scanned documentation

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! ‘Tis the season to give cute, lovable puppies to the good people of the world and lumps of hard, black coal to the wicked.

This festive season my gift to REALTORS® is….to update them on two recent FINTRAC Regime developments! Ho ho YAY!

The first update concerns the terrorist watch lists that REALTORS® rely upon to assist them in satisfying their terrorist reporting obligations. In particular, REALTORS® may have noticed some of the links to these watch lists in FINTRAC’s guidance stopped functioning this past summer. Ho ho…NO! The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reached out to FINTRAC and obtained a policy clarification on alternative links to use:

“…a reporting entity must have an alternate means to refer to the prescribed lists, pursuant to the applicable subsections of the Criminal Code and the RIUNRST [Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Suppression of Terrorism], which are available at the following links,, and, respectively.  In addition, FINTRAC would encourage reporting entities [i.e. REALTORS®] to refer to other lists or media that may exist, to make the determination on “any person, group, trust, partnership or fund or an unincorporated association or organization that has as one of its purposes or activities facilitating or carrying out any terrorist activity”.

In a nutshell, update your bookmarks with the links above and consider other information you may be aware of on a client when considering whether to make a terrorist property report.

The second update concerns new guidance recently published by FINTRAC, which explains how to verify the identity of an individual or entity. Ho ho tell-me-more!

Well, a key change in the new guidance is what type of documentation may be used as part of the “dual-process” method of identification, which involves using information from two reliable sources to ID a client (for example, a utility bill and a bank statement). Prior to July 2019, REALTORS® were required to see “original” documentation, which limited the value of the dual-process method of identification in non-face-to-face settings as a client couldn’t email you a scanned copy of a document. However, as a result of regulatory changes that occurred this past summer, FINTRAC’s revised guidance makes it clear it is acceptable to rely on a fax, photocopy, scan or electronic image of such documentation. Ho ho score-one-for-easier-identification! 

As a general rule, it’s a good idea for REALTORS® to periodically check FINTRAC’s website for new policy interpretations and update their policies and procedures accordingly.  Ho ho I’ve-overused-this-joke.

Happy holidays everyone!

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal or financial advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Simon Parham is General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at the Canadian Real Estate Association. He has expertise in a variety of federal laws and issues, including anti-money laundering and privacy law. Prior to joining CREA, Simon worked as counsel for the Department of Justice, where he provided legal advice to the Department of National Defence.

One thought on “All I want for Christmas is…the ability to ID clients using scanned documentation”

  1. Thanks Simon for this timely article. As our brokerages FINTRAC compliance officer this is the method I have been advising our REALTORS® to use when face to face is unavailable, nice to see confirmation!
    Be safe out there…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *