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Canada taking steps to ease passport backlog

Canada taking steps to ease passport backlog

Many Canadians, anxious to get away after two years of pandemic, are running into lengthy delays and wait times at passport offices . Service Canada announced  it is responding by prioritizing those travelling imminently and ensuring that those with less urgent needs can access the right service channels for them.

In-person passport offices reopening

Service Canada is will reopen 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.

A number of measures have been put in place to make it easier s to access passport services, and to improve and streamline processing.

More passport workers hired

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. 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.

Simplified renewal

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.

Book a reservation

Service Canada has also launched eservices.canada.ca/reservation/, https://eservices.canada.ca/en/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:

Urgent cases

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.

Most passports issued in 10 days

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.

By the numbers

From April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, Service Canada issued 363,000 passports. From April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, this number grew to 1,273,000 passports issued, with over 960,000 being issued between September 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.

Service Canada expects to receive 4.2 million passport applications during the 2022–23 fiscal year.

In April 2021, approximately 69,000 applications were received, compared to 261,000 applications in April 2022.

Since April 1, 2022, Service Canada has issued 210,219 passports.

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