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Don’t Let the Passport Application Backlog Ruin Your Travel Plans

After more than two years of travel restrictions, the world is finally opening back up to international travel and many of us are realizing we need to renew our passports. So many, in fact, that it has caused a huge surge in demand for passport services. Service Canada issued only 363,000 passports between April of 2020, and April of 2021, compared to 1.3 million passports this year. That’s a huge jump! They are also fielding more than 200,000 phone calls daily, up from about 5,000 prior to the pandemic. Adding to the volume increase are Covid-19 safety protocols that limit employees in each office and in-person customer numbers.

All these factors have combined to create long line-ups at Service Canada locations and major delays in passport processing times at locations across the country. People have been lining up for in-person services the night before in order to secure a passport and mail-in passport applications have been taking upwards of seven weeks.

If you need to renew your passport any time soon, we suggest starting the process as soon as possible. The estimates provided by Service Canada are not accurate at the moment, so don’t rely on these. In-person appointment times are booking far into the future, so if this is the route you want to go, book one now!

If you need to apply for a new passport or renew your passport here are a few guidelines:

Can I Renew My Passport or Do I Need to Apply for a New One?

Recent changes to the passport renewal criteria have made it easier to qualify and apply for a passport renewal. You can now renew your passport even if it’s expired, damaged, lost or stolen and you don’t need to provide a guarantor, proof of Canadian citizenship, or supporting identification.

You can renew your Canadian passport if:

  • You previously had an adult passport (This means you were 16 or older on the date you applied. Children must submit a new application)
  • It was issued within 15 years of the date you apply for your renewal
  • It was valid for 5 or 10 years
  • It has the same name, date of birth and place of birth as you want on your new passport. 
  • It has the same gender identifier as you want on your new passport

How Do I Renew My Passport

There are several different ways to renew your passport based on how quickly you need it:

If you need a passport in the next 2 business days you must apply in person at a specialized passport site that offers urgent pick-up service (see the list of locations here). Proof of travel is required. This could be an airline, bus, or train ticket; a travel itinerary showing proof of payment; proof of illness or death in the family; or a written declaration if travelling by car. Depending on the reason for your travel, you may need to show further proof that your situation is urgent.

If you need a passport in the next 25 business days you must apply in person at a specialized passport site (see locations here). You can book an appointment online at eService Canada or walk-in. If you choose to walk-in, get there early and be prepared for a long wait. Proof of travel is required. It could take up to 10 business days, plus mailing time to receive your new passport. Some offices offer urgent/express service and passport pick-up service in lieu of mail.

If you need a passport more than 25 business days from now you can apply by mail or make an appointment for an in-person appointment at eService Canada. If applying by mail, Service Canada says processing requires 20 business days, plus mailing time. This may not be accurate during the current surge in demand as recent news stories have said it is taking up to seven weeks in some cases.

Which Service Canada Location Should I Go To? 

There are five Service Canada offices in BC that offer specialized passport services. These offices are in Victoria, Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, and Kelowna. However, only the offices in Victoria, Vancouver, and Surrey offer urgent passport pickup services. 

How Can I Check the Status of a Submitted Application?

If you have already submitted an application (in person or by mail) you can check the status of your application here.

Our Best Advice: Don’t Delay!

We can’t stress this enough: Do not wait to renew your passport if it needs to be done soon. No matter which route you go (in-person or by mail) leave yourself as much extra time as possible. If you can make an appointment, do it now. We want you to be back out exploring the world, not stuck at home because of passport delays.