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Canadians Are Booking Fake Flights To Expedite Extreme Passport Delays

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After two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, the world is ready for travel. Canadians are no exception and have been itching to get back out there and enjoy a much-needed vacation. There's just one major problem. The government hasn't been able to keep up with the number of passport applications they receive. This has led to many ruined vacations for hopeful Canadian travelers as passports take ages to arrive. However, some Canadians have found a way to rig the process by booking fake travel plans in order to take advantage of a 48-hour urgent approval process.

Man holding a canadian passport in an airport

The method is certainly, at best, in a morally gray area. However, some travelers are desperate to make sure they get their passports in time. One would-be traveler said in an interview that they had been waiting “well over two months” for arrival. Two months is certainly a long time to wait; if not planned properly, it could lead to a vacation cancellation. Stories of canceled vacations and extreme wait times have pushed some Canadians to game the system, whether right or wrong.

Couple with canceled vacation plans who are upset in room with suitcase open

How Is This Possible?

Firstly, this is not a guide on how to game the Canadian passport system. The government is urging people not to book “fake” travel plans to get their passports faster. Jumping to the front of the line only makes the problem worse and isn't fair to those who really do have a significant reason to use the 48-hour urgent approval process.

Woman applying for a passport in person

However, to understand why people want to book fake travel to game the system, it is important to know how it works. According to the Canadian government, a traveler who needs a passport in 2 days or less must provide proof of the urgency. The most straightforward proof to attain for many travelers is a plane ticket with a date of departure sooner than they could get a passport with standard waiting times. To prove that they need the passport in two days or less, citizens must provide one of the following:

  • An airline, bus, or train ticket with proof of payment.
  • Proof of death or illness in the family.
  • A written statement explaining the need for an expedited passport from the traveler or a third party.
Man booking a fake flight ticket

What Are Some Canadians Doing?

Out of all the different options presented, the easiest “proof” to attain is going to be a ticket. While a written statement may not be hard to make, a yes or a no can depend on whether or not the traveler's explanation is a valid reason for using the 48-hour service. However, travelers wishing to skip the line are doing so relatively easily with the following process:

Traveler Booking A Flight On A Computer While Holding Up A Credit Card, Flight Booking Concept
  • Booking and paying for a flight
  • Printing out the details and payment proof
  • Heading to an in-person urgent passport appointment
  • Securing usage of the 48-hour urgent service
  • Canceling the original flight
Approved passport being handed off to traveler

The above method shows how some Canadians take advantage of the 48-hour service without genuinely need of it. By utilizing refundable fares or flexible cancellation options, the only extra fee is the $110 CAD that must be paid to use the urgent pick-up service. Travelers are cautioned against following this example. The more people that continue to take advantage of the system in this way, the greater the risk of the service becoming unavailable or harder to use.

Service Canada logo on their office on College Str. in Toronto, Ontario. Service Canada is a government agency aimed at representing all federal administrations

Will The System Be Fixed?

The fact that people are going to such lengths to get their passports in a timely manner is just further proof that the system is broken. The government has attempted to release some pressure by hiring 500 people, extending hours, and prioritizing applicants with travel plans within 48 hours. However, this has led to the exact situation of people gaming the system with fake travel plans. For the lowest tier of service, Canada's passport site says it could take up to 13 weeks (about three months) for processing. The system certainly needs repair, but a sufficient fix is yet to be implemented.

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Canada has become a nightmare thanks to Justin turdeau

Stephen White

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

I agree that it's a morally gray area, point taken. However, what does it say about the Canadian government that its citizens are resorting to this, because the regular process is so slow? Part of me doesn't blame people for circumventing the normal passport system.