Improving passport processing

Service Canada is improving passport processing.

We understand that the current wait times are unacceptable and Canadians expect more from their government.

What we are doing

Passport services

Progress update – September 12 to 18

  • Last week, 68,550 passports were issued to Canadians

  • Staff worked 6,490 hours of overtime

  • 63 new employees have been hired

Join the conversation

Our solutions

We are committed to providing Canadians with passport services in a timely manner.

We are taking steps to address passport demands by:

  • expanding the simplified renewal application to any adult passport issued in the last 15 years
  • launching an appointment booking tool that directs clients to the right location for service
  • making passport wait times available to help clients prepare for their visit to a passport office—these numbers are updated 3 times a day
  • expanding access to passport services across the country by:
    • extending hours of service
    • expanding pick up and expedited services to 20 additional sites
  • improving client experience in our offices by:
    • thoroughly assessing client needs while in line
    • providing clients with appointments at a nearby location
    • expanding hours and weekend availability in some locations
  • continually hiring employees and adding processing capacity to help get rid of the backlog:
    • 500 Passport Officers being hired and trained
    • 319 Citizen Service Officers (CSOs) being hired and trained
    • employees from other departments such as the Canada Revenue Agency and Statistics Canada have been re-assigned to support passport processing
  • streamlining processes to maximize efficiency and productivity
  • updating the way we deliver services to the public over the medium and longer term:
    • exploring digital solutions to make online submissions for renewals possible
    • exploring technology to allow Canadians to track the status of their applications online
    • exploring options to enable more of the network of over 300 regular Service Canada Centres and Scheduled Outreach Sites across the country to process simple passport renewals

Frequently asked questions

How did this problem happen and why didn’t you see it coming?

The COVID-19 pandemic created a set of interconnected issues that have affected timely delivery of passport service to Canadians. This includes:

  • a sudden increase in the volume of applications
  • a loss of efficiency due to a shift to mail applications and public health capacity restrictions
  • a large proportion of complex applications

Only 20% of normally anticipated passport volume was received during the first two years of the pandemic. The total forecast for 2022 to 2023 is now 4.3 million, which is a significant increase from the previous two years. Three million Canadians did not renew or apply for a passport during the pandemic. This pent-up volume is now arriving in a large wave.

This surge in applications coincided with pandemic health and safety measures that limited the number of staff who could work onsite, until at least May 2022. Before restrictions were eased, only 30 to 50% of capacity could be onsite, either at service centres or processing facilities.

The proportion of applications received by mail has nearly doubled. It is about 40% less efficient to process these applications compared to in-person. In addition, a significant segment of all applications currently in the system are for new passports for children and adults. These are more complex, take longer to process than simple renewals, and require more experienced passport officers to process.

These combined factors have contributed to a backlog of passport applications, causing delays. 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. 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 2022 and move to a lower, more sustainable inventory as we move into 2023.

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 faster.

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.

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 or Scheduled Outreach Site that offers passport services in-person to request your passport. It takes around 17 weeks from start to finish to get your passport that way, but there are over 300 locations and lineups are rarely an issue.

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.

What is the application process like now?

Passport applications should be submitted well in advance of making travel plans.

Anyone travelling within 2 business days must go to a passport office 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 or a Service Canada Centre offering 10-day processing, 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 a regular Service Canada Centre or a Scheduled Outreach Site.

Applying in person at a Service Canada Centre or Scheduled Outreach Site 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.

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 It is updated regularly.

Where can I book an appointment to renew my passport?

Service Canada has launched an appointment-booking tool 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 or Scheduled Outreach Site near you and well before making travel plans to ensure you have your documents in hand when you need them. It currently takes approximately 17 weeks for your application to be processed when applying via a Service Canada Centre or Scheduled Outreach Site.

Will I be charged fees should my 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.

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. 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, at a regular Service Canada Centre or Scheduled Outreach Site, or if your travel date is not urgently approaching, please allow about 17 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 passport office to inquire about and potentially transfer your file there.

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 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 passport office or a Service Canada Centre.

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.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: