New rules for passport processing give Canadians applying for passports while abroad more options to establish their identity.
The passport process requires the applicant to have a “guarantor,” someone who guarantees they are who they say they are. The new rules allow any adult with a valid or recently expired (within one year) Canadian passport or a member of an expanded list of professional guarantors to serve in this role.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) said these new regulations are designed to “streamline” the process and ensure greater efficiency.
The list of professional guarantors now accepted for processing Canadian passports, both domestically and abroad, include:
- Medical doctor or dentist
- Dean/head of a university/college
- Attorney or notary public
- Police Officer
- Signing officer of a full-service bank or trust company
The professional guarantor does not need to be a Canadian citizen as long as he or she is a member of one of the accepted professions.
Canada also recently introduced its ‘ePassport’, which is designed to have greater security, including facial recognition technology.
The process for issuing passports, both domestically as well as to Canadians living abroad, is not expected to be different for traditional or ePassports.
On October 25, 2013, in the midst of Citizenship Week, the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, delivered the 1,000,000 ePassport personally making a major milestone for the relatively new program.
An ePassport is not that much different from any other passport used by Canada in the past. It is still used as an identification document and can still be used for foreign travel for Canadian citizens.
The primary difference is the technology used within the passport. These new documents have a radio chip embedded within the paper designed to be read automatically by certain machines at Canada’s borders.
The advantage of this kind of technology is that it makes it quite a bit more difficult (nearly impossible, one might say) for fraudsters to counterfeit a Canadian passport.
Fraudsters might be able to change some of the text on the biography page of the passport, but they won’t be able to change the information on the chip itself.
When the immigration officer scans the passport at a border entry-place, they will be able to check the information printed on the document to the information on the chip and detect if the passport is fraudulent or not.
Another advantage of this new passport is that it is a ten-year passport. Canadian citizens who apply for this new passport can hold on to it for a whole 10 years!
This will greatly limit the frequency at which one has to renew their passport.
The Honourable Chris Alexander said during a Citizenship Week event that “The 10-year ePassport is the ultimate symbol of citizenship and has proven to be a huge success with Canadians.”
Which is very true. If you’re a citizen and don’t have a new passport, now is the time to get one!
A guarantor’s signature is necessary to get a passport.
Guarantors must sign a document called the Declaration of Guarantor. This form is included in the passport application package.
They must also sign to the back of one of the passport photographs you are submitting these exact words “I certify this to be a true likeness of (your name)”.
Ethical considerations apply to the guarantor’s duties. Not only must they not be paid for doing this, but they must also be able to do it without any help from the applicant.
The procedures are in place to protect the identity security of all Canadian citizens.
Requirements of Guarantors
In order to be eligible to be a guarantor for a passport applicant, these people have to be able to meet some basic requirements.
- Guarantors must be Canadian citizens over the age of 18 and have applied for their own passport when they were at least 16
- Guarantors must be able to communicate with Passport Canada and provide their passport information.
- Guarantors must have a valid passport, or, only a recently expired passport (one year)
- Guarantors must also have known the person they are signing for for at least two years.
When looking for a guarantor it is a good idea to ask one’s friends and family who have lived in Canada if they would mind helping you get your passport.
Members of your religious community might also be a good idea for guarantors.
Canadian citizens are the only people allowed to carry Canadian passports and they are advised to have their passports with them at all times when travelling abroad.
The Application Package
To have a complete application package one must collect these items:
- A completed passport application (PPTC 054 for passport renewals, PPTC 153 for first time applications for adults and PPTC 155, the children’s passport application).
- Proof of citizenship. A Permanent Resident Card or birth certificate from within Canada will suffice for this requirement.
- Proof of identity. This could be a birth certificate, government issued ID, passport, or other identification document.
- Passport photos. These photos are subject to strict regulation and must meet exact specifications.
- A guarantor. Guarantors are people who will certify that you are who you say you are when applying for a passport.
Processing Times and Fees
Processing times are estimates for how long it will take for the CIC to assess and grant a certain service.
In person applications for a passport take about ten business days, or two weeks. Applications submitted through the mail or in person at a Service Canada center take about 20 business days, or four weeks.
The fees for Canadian passports are as follows:
- Five year passports are $120
- Ten year passports are $160
- Children’s passports are $57
All amounts are in Canadian dollars and can be paid by credit card, debit card, certified check, money order or prepaid card.
Submitting an Application
Applications can be submitted in person at a passport Canada office or at a Service Canada center.
Applications can also be submitted through the mail to
Passport Canada Program
Gatineau QC K1A 0G3
Canadian passports will now be administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) instead of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced on May 8, 2013.
This change is in-line with other governmental reforms designed to make immigration benefits more convenient and efficient.
“As Citizenship and Immigration Canada is already responsible for determining Canadian citizenship, integrating the passport program into the department makes good sense,” said Minister Kenney in a CIC news release.
The actual shift of responsibilities will take place on July 2, 2013, so citizens interested in updating their passports before that should use the old system until then.
Another reason for the shift is the transition to the CIC’s IT system, which is much more capable than the system currently in use, as it is, “nearing the end of its lifespan”.
Passports are available for all Canadian citizens and are very necessary for international travel. They also are a convenient form of proof of your Canadian citizenship.
Passports contain a sheet of personal, biographic information as well as many blank pages for visa stamps that you may receive during your travels. If you expect that you will use all of these sheets up before your passport expires you may want to consider purchasing additional sheets. Canadian passports have red covers.
If you are not yet a citizen of Canada you may want to consider going through that process. The international protection you get from holding a Canadian passport is extremely valuable.
Canadian citizens looking for passport services abroad will continue to contact the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.