Q&A on passport services


July 07, 2022              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Q. What is the government doing to fix the situation?

Service Canada is examining and implementing every possible option to expedite intake and processing of applications to help Canadians get their passports in a timely way.

Service Canada is continuing to hire and train more staff. Already, Service Canada has hired approximately 600 new employees this year, and will continue to hire up to 600 additional employees, along with continued internal reassignment of staff to work on delivery of passport services. The passport service workforce has increased by about 48% since July of last year.

Staff are working overtime and weekends, with over 6000 hours of overtime per week dedicated to passport efforts. In many locations, Service Canada has also adapted hours of service for clients who cannot be accommodated during regular hours.

Service Canada has also worked to make lineups at specialized passport sites more manageable and predictable, particularly in larger urban centres and extending throughout the country. This has included active and client-specific triaging early in the morning every day. Local staff are focused on providing clear communication to all clients awaiting service, which has contributed to more fair and orderly queues, and better prioritization of urgent needs.

Q. I don’t want to get to an office and have to wait an entire day to not be served. What are you doing to solve that?

Service Canada has begun to publish approximate passport wait times to help clients prepare for their visit at a passport office, and these numbers are updated 3 times a day. 

Ideally, though, if you are not travelling urgently, it would be best to go to a Service Canada Centre in-person to request your passport. It takes around 10 weeks from start to finish to get your passport that way, but there are over 300 locations and lineups are rarely an issue.

Q. I heard that people were being turned away if they weren’t travelling in 48 hours or less. Is that true?

Service Canada is implementing new triage measures to provide a more intensive, client-specific approach, although the triaging of clients is for the moment concentrated on the largest cities where lineups have been, or could be, an issue.

While the triage methods vary from location to location based on the circumstances, staff are focused on clear communication to clients and prioritizing service to those with urgent travel needs within the following 24 to 48 hours. They are also directing clients with longer-term travel plans to the most appropriate service channels to ensure their passport needs are met and their travel is not interrupted.

This includes making better use of the network of over 300 Service Canada sites, and ensuring all centres have the staff, technology and processing capacity to offer by-appointment passport service to clients with less-urgent situations, who have been redirected to them through the triage process.

Q. What is the application process like now?

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 and a proof of travel or need is required.

Anyone travelling within 45 business days must go to a passport office (Service Canada Centre – Passport Service) with a proof of travel. Keep in mind that some locations in metropolitan areas are implementing a triaging system to better manage lineups, and make sure people with the most urgent travel can get their passports as quickly as possible.

All other clients should apply at any of the over 300 Service Canada Centres.

Applying in person at a Service Canada Centre allows the staff there the opportunity to point out any missing information, documentation or errors on the forms before they are submitted, reducing the chance that an application will be held up.

Applying in-person also allows the applicant 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.

Q. How many passports has Service Canada issued? What are the current processing times?

You can now view the most up-to-date stats on passports by visiting Passport program statistics - Canada.ca. It is updated regularly.

Q. Where can a client book an appointment to renew their passport?

Service Canada has launched an appointment-booking tool at eservices.canada.ca/reservation that directs clients to the right location for service. Service Canada recommends clients to check back often, as appointments are added as they become available.

We do recommend to apply as soon as possible, in person, at a Service Canada Centre near you and well before making travel plans to ensure you have your documents in hand when you need them. It currently takes approximately 10 weeks for the process of applying via a Service Canada Centre.

Q. Will clients be charged fees should their passport application not be completed within the expected service standard time?

Clients will not be charged any additional fees if a complete application is submitted and we do not meet our published service standard. This includes transfer and pick up fees.

Q. I applied for my passport weeks ago and can’t get an update. What should I do?

What you should do depends on when you are travelling.

A status request can be submitted online on Canada.ca. Due to the high number of status requests, it takes three or more days to process a request. If a request has already been made, Canadians should not submit another one.

Note that if you applied by mail, or at a Service Canada Centre, or if your travel date is not urgently approaching, please allow about 10 weeks for your passport to be delivered.

If you need your passport urgently (within a few days), please either contact the passport program or go to a specialized passport site (as opposed to a Service Canada Centre), to inquire about and potentially transfer your file there.

Q. I have been waiting for a while, and my travel date is coming up fast. What can I do?

You can request a transfer of an application file for the Issuance of a Passport.

At your request, the Passport Program may transfer an application file for the issuance of a passport between locations Canada. In other words, if you need to have it transferred to a specialized Passport Office to have it printed urgently, this is an option available to you. Note that urgent service requires a proof of travel.

A transfer can be requested by contacting the Passport Program, or by visiting a specialized passport site.

Q. Why won't the department just tell Canadians when this problem will be solved?

Progress is being made and more passports are being issued every week, but it is difficult to predict exactly when we will see a return to normal. Through continued efforts to maximize efficiency, increase resources and streamline processes, Service Canada expects the passport backlog to drop significantly by the end of the summer.

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