With pandemic restrictions easing around the world, interest in travel is growing among Canadians, and demand for new or renewed passports is growing along with it. Service Canada is experiencing increases in passport processing times, and is responding by prioritizing those travelling imminently and ensuring that those with less urgent needs can access the right service channels for them.
Service Canada’s ability to serve Canadians swiftly was affected by the unprecedented volume of applications and the obligation to impose in-person capacity limits for both clients and staff to protect the health and safety of those visiting and those working inside Service Canada Centres.
Service Canada is pleased to announce the reopening of all passport service counters across the country. Reopening measures were implemented the week of May 9 following a brief trial period. They mark a return to pre-pandemic in-person service capacity, with a 40% increase in capacity at service counters. Capacity in waiting rooms has also been significantly expanded, and Service Canada has also taken additional measures to simplify and expedite passport processing.
A number of measures have been put in place to make it easier for Canadians to access passport services, and to improve and streamline processing to better meet their needs.
Service Canada has hired 600 new employees specifically to support the processing of passport applications, opened more dedicated passport intake counters in over 300 Service Canada Centres, opened additional processing hubs, and created a new workload management and processing technology to increase efficiency, all while meeting health protocols. Service Canada continues to hire and train more employees, and teams at the passport office, processing and call centres are working overtime every day and on weekends to increase processing capacity. This includes opening select Service Canada Centres on Saturdays for passport service.
A simplified renewal process now allows applicants to renew an expired passport if it was issued in the last 15 years. The simplified process is also available to those who had their passport lost, stolen or damaged. Applicants do not need to have a guarantor or provide their original documents, such as proof of citizenship or photo identification. They simply need two photos, two references, their completed form and the applicable fees. These changes make renewing a passport easier and faster, while maintaining the highest level of program integrity.
Service Canada has also launched eservices.canada.ca/reservation/, an online appointment-booking tool that applicants can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from their computer, tablet or cellphone to book their appointment online. The tool also directs them to the right location to submit their passport applications. Service Canada recognizes that some circumstances cannot wait for an appointment:
- Anyone who needs a passport within two business days must visit one of the specialized passport sites (Service Canada Centres – Passport Service) offering urgent pick-up service. Proof of travel is required.
- Those travelling within 25 business days can use the walk-in service at one of the 35 specialized passport sites (Service Canada Centres – Passport Service). Appointments are recommended, and proof of travel is required. Please note that wait times at these sites may be long due to the current demand.
- For anyone travelling in more than 25 days (or with no specific travel date), over 300 Service Canada Centres are available to receive passport applications in person. No proof of travel is needed. These applicants also have the option to mail in their applications.
Although processing times are currently longer than prior to the pandemic, 98% of Canadians who apply in-person at a specialized passport office currently receive their passports in less than 10 business days. In March and April 2022, Service Canada received approximately 500,000 applications for passports, and is therefore prioritizing those with more imminent travel.
Canadians should make sure they have valid passports well before booking travel. If they do need a passport, or need an existing passport to be renewed, they should apply well before they book their trip to ensure it can be delivered in time.
Don’t blame the people who work behind the counter for the long wait times. They are employees working for an employer. Wait times are out of the counter service peoples control.
Also understand that each person’s application takes a minimum 20 minutes to process. Staring them down while you are sitting in the waiting area will not make the process any faster and is a form of bullying. A Canadian Passport is a privilege.
A passport is required to leave or re-enter the country. If it’s a privilege, and not a right, that means the government doesn’t have to allow you to leave. If the government can say you’re not allowed to leave, the country is in fact a prison. You are exactly why I can’t stand the average Canadian.