If you have upcoming travel plans and need to renew your passport, be warned — there will be a bit of a wait.
Passport renewal wait times have skyrocketed as COVID-19 public health restrictions ease, says the federal government.
According to Service Canada, from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, it issued 363,000 passports. However, this number has spiked to 1,273,000 passports issued from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
We’re experiencing high call volumes. You may experience longer wait times. If you do not have travel plans within the next 2 weeks, please delay your call and visit https://t.co/ICHbVuPSE5 for information.
— Passport Canada (@PassportCan) March 9, 2022
During this period, Service Canada has seen passport request call levels rise from around 5,000 a day pre-pandemic to 200,000 calls per day.
“Service Canada recognizes that an increase in demand for passport services has resulted in lineups and longer wait times for service, and we understand the concern this may cause for clients,” Employment and Social Development Canada spokesperson Mila Roy told Daily Hive in an email.
The standard passport service wait time is 10 business days if applying in person at one of its 35 specialized Service Canada passport sites and 20 business days if applying at a Service Canada Centre or through the mail.
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However, Service Canada says that as of April 18, 2022, the average processing time for passports is five days if applying in person at a specialized passport site and 25 days if applying at a Service Canada Centre or via mail.
The federal government says it acknowledges that during the height of the pandemic, planning to renew passports was not top of mind for Canadians, but this decrease in passport applications results in the “higher-than-normal” surge now.
An easier way to renew your passport
“Even with the recent increase in passport applications, Service Canada Centres across the country are working hard to ensure that anyone with travel plans receives a passport prior to their travel date,” stated Roy.
To do this, Service Canada has expanded the simplified renewal process for passports. Applicants don’t need to have a guarantor or provide their original documents like proof of citizenship or photo identification. Instead, they need two photos, two references, the completed form, and to pay the applicable fees.
Canadians can use the simplified process to renew an expired passport as long as it was issued within the last 15 years, according to Service Canada. It is also available for people who had their passports lost, stolen, or damaged.
Service Canada recommends that Canadians with no imminent travel plans apply through Service Canada Centres to avoid long lines.
People who need a passport within two business days must visit their nearest specialized passport site offering urgent pickup service with proof of travel or need.