Passport applications have increased four times compared to last year’s data and Service Canada hasn’t met citizens’ needs
After two long years of a devastating pandemic, Canadian travelers are finally planning on visiting foreign destinations and enjoying vacations while the travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 have been eased around the world. However, passport offices aren’t working as fast and efficiently as citizens need.
The Canadian government’s program in charge of passports, Service Canada, hasn’t been able to keep up with the passport applications they’ve been receiving.
According to the information shared by CTV News, between April 2020 and March 2021, the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada reported that 363,000 had been issued and during the same period from 2021 to 2022 the agency Service Canada has issued nearly 1.3 million passports, almost four times the documents issued during the previous period.
Passports —which can cost from 57 to 160 Canadian dollars depending on age and duration— have become a hot commodity in Canada and due to the high demand for renewal and new documents, Canadians have been facing long passport processing times, long lines at the offices, delays, and frustration as many travelers have been obliged to cancel, reschedule, or have even missed their trips.
Delays In Passport Processing Times
Canadians have been complaining about the organization and the lack of staff in the offices, and have been reporting delays in the usual time. According to the government’s standard procedure, when submitted in person at the passport office, it takes 10 business days to issue a passport, and 20 business days by mail.
The government has also informed that Service Canada has been receiving more calls than usual: around 200,000 calls a day, while prior to the pandemic the usual number rounded 5,000 calls a day.
On the passports and travel documents official website, Canada’s government issued a warning for travelers: “We’re experiencing very high call volumes right now. Wait times are longer than usual. If you do not have travel plans in the next 2 weeks, we suggest you wait to call us.”
According to a recent report made by Global News, the Canadian government hasn’t publicly recognized recent delays or changes in processing times, but citizens said that lines at the offices are too long and certain offices have collapsed. Another person declared to CTV News that he had been waiting “well over two months” since he applied and hasn’t received the passport.
Authorities have explained that recent health and safety measures have affected the way they process applications and stated on the website: “We may not always meet our service standards as a result.”
Recommendation For Travelers
Canada isn’t the only country with delays issuing passports, a few weeks ago the U.S. State Department warned American citizens that passport processing times can take up to 11 weeks. Travelers must apply for passports weeks or even months in advance in order to avoid delays or unexpected circumstances.
Canadian authorities insist that passport processing times are met for those who book their appointments online before going to the passport office in person and it is recommended to do so.
After issuing the passport, the standard pick-up time is around 10 business days, but travelers can request expedited services —available in person— and pay $110 for urgent pick-up to get it by the next business day, $50 for express pick-up to get the passport within the next 2 to 9 business days, or $20 for standard pick-up on or after 10 business days.
Before planning the next international trip, travelers must verify the validity of their passport and study the entry requirements of their destination, since many countries require from 6 to 3 months of passport validity to enter their territory. Canadian travelers should also stay up to date with news and official information shared on the government’s passport application page.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com