Passport Updates

Canadian Passport

Message From Service Canada:

The Current Situation

I am deeply concerned about the delivery of passport services to Canadians, and the difficult and stressful situation too many Canadians are facing in getting passports in time for their travel plans.

Service Canada has added staff, streamlined procedures and increased processing capacity to help deal with this unprecedented situation. However, significant challenges remain. Service Canada continues to do more, and is implementing additional measures to make waits at specialized passport sites more predictable and manageable.

Pre-pandemic, the paper-based Passport Program was delivered efficiently through its network of in person offices with 80% of applications submitted in-person across the service network.

During the pandemic, there have been a number of factors that have impacted service delivery. There was a shift in application intake from in-person to mail, resulting in 80% of files being received at one mail centre. This required Service Canada to pivot a program designed to process paper applications in-person to one which moved work virtually across a national workforce. To this day, we continue to receive 60% of passport applications by mail while the in-person passport centres experience a surge of applications requiring the support of all local resources.

Over the course of the pandemic, 3 million Canadians did not renew or apply for a passport. The Department only received 20% of the normal passport volume in the first two years of the pandemic. From April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, Service Canada issued 363,000 passports, and from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, this number increased sharply to 1,273,000 passports issued. Since April 1, 2022, over 542,000 applications were received. As a result, Service Canada is experiencing increased passport processing times and is prioritizing those travelling imminently.

Further, shifts in the pandemic, including the Omicron wave, delayed additional applications from Canadians.  As a result, the revised volume forecast for 2022-2023 is 4.3 million passport applications with an uneven distribution across the year. Summer volumes are expected to be up to 45% higher than originally projected.

Of this increased volume, only 20% are simple renewals. The majority are complex applications such as first-time adult applications and children’s files. The intersection of volume, complexity and congestion in the mail channel have led to the current delay in processing being experienced by many applicants.

The Government of Canada is making every effort to streamline process, add additional resources and fast track technological solutions in order to address the current backlog of applications. We also understand that Canadians expect transparency and deserve to receive regular and clear information from the Government on this critical service. While the situation remains very fluid, we will continue to ensure our websites, Service Canada Centres, call centre staff, and passport sites have the most up–to-date information, so Canadians can know what to expect. I will be regularly available to speak through the media to Canadians about our efforts to serve them.

No option to improve service will be left on the table, and solutions are being implemented as rapidly as possible when they are identified. We continue to thank Canadians for their patience, as the Service Canada teams work diligently and tirelessly to provide the passports and service they deserve.

 

What We Are Doing

Service Canada has put a number of measures in place to make it easier for Canadians to access passport services, improve processing and increase resources, including:

  • Launched an appointment-booking tool at canada.ca/reservation that directs clients to the right location for service. Clients should check back often, as appointments are added as they become available.
  • Added processing hubs across the country.
  • Increased in-person service capacity by making all passport counters across the country available for service.
  • Added almost 600 additional staff and made changes to our phone system to ensure that despite long hold times, the Service Canada system does not drop client calls while they wait.
  • We have also begun to publish approximate passport wait times to help clients prepare for their visit at a passport office, and these numbers are updated three times a day.
  • Established a simplified renewal process for any adult passport issued in the last 15 years.
  • While triage systems can vary by location circumstantially, staff will be focused on clear communication to clients, prioritizing urgent travel needs, and directing less urgent cases to the most appropriate service channels to ensure their passport needs are met.
  • Staff from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are now assisting with direct passport processing. IRCC has also identified program delivery changes to help Service Canada process applications faster.
  • Service Canada also expects up to 200 Canada Revenue Agency staff to join the service team for passports in Quebec as the tax filing season draws to a close.
  • Introduced additional print capacity to support applications from the Montreal area.

The following are responses to some frequently asked questions to help your constituents. As always, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss any concerns you may have and to share any ideas on how we may better serve Canadians.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do Canadians Need To Know When Applying for a Passport?

  • Passport applications should be submitted well in advance of making travel plans.
  • Anyone travelling within two business days must go to a passport office (Service Canada Centre – Passport Service) offering urgent pickup service. No appointment is needed, though a proof of travel or need is required.
  • Anyone travelling within 3-45 business days must go to a passport office (Service Canada Centre – Passport Service) with a proof of travel.
  • All other clients should apply at any of the over 300 Service Canada Centres.
  • Mail is also available; however, it is not recommended to clients at this time due to the high volume of mail-in applications.
  • Applying in-person also allows the applicant to have their documents reviewed in-person and to take their documents home with them instead of sending them in the mail. This also reduces application time.
  • Information on how to apply and obtain a passport application form can be found online on Canada.ca.

 

What are some Common Errors to Avoid When Completing a Passport Application?

  • The Guarantor must sign the back of one photo for Child and Adult General applications.
  • For Child applications:
  • The applicant is generally a custodial parent or legal guardian of the child.
  • All parents, including all legal guardians, are requested (and may be required) to participate in obtaining passport services for the child.
  • When completing a child form, the relationship between parents must be indicated and the bottom of Sections 2 and 5 must be signed.
  • An applicant who does not know the current whereabouts of the other parent(s) or legal guardian(s) is asked to contact the Passport Program.
  • If applicable, all documents (including separation agreements, divorce judgment, orders, etc.) pertaining to the child that refer to custody, decision-making responsibilities, access, parenting time and/or mobility are required to be submitted.
  • For Adult General applications:
  • The Guarantor must sign and date a copy of the applicant’s ID.
  • Indicate the requested passport validity – 5 or 10 years – on the form.

 

Where can you find processing times?

How can you check on the status of a passport application?

  • Clients who do not have planned travel within 45 days should not submit a status request.
  • Due to the high number of requests, response times exceed the three day standard.
  • A status request can be submitted online on ca.
  • If a request has already been made, Canadians should not submit another one.

How to Request a Transfer of an Application File for the Issuance of a Passport?

  • Clients with upcoming travel can request the transfer of an application file.  These requests are processed based on travel priority.
  • A transfer can be requested:
    • by phone at 1-800-567-6868;
    • by web form; or
    • in person at a passport office.

What are the Additional Fees?

Given the current circumstances, we want to assure you that:

  • Clients will not be charged for expedited or transfer fees, if a complete application is submitted and we do not meet the service standard.
  • If clients have been charged expedited or transfer fees and the service standard has not been met with their application, they can request a refund through the website by submitting a complaint to the Passport Program.

Suggested action based on your needs:

2 business days or less

3 to 45 business days

46 business days or more

  •  Go to any Service Canada Centre
  •  By appointment or walk-in
  •  You can also apply by mail
  •  It may take up to 9 weeks, plus mail time

Last updated June 30, 2022