Turnaround times for passports improving, says Gould

Turnaround times for passports improving, says Gould

OTTAWA — The number of passports issued last week was higher than at any point since before the pandemic, according to an update from Karina Gould, Minister of Children, Families and Social Development.

Minister Gould, who oversees passports as part of her portfolio, noted improvements in service delivery for passports in recent weeks in the wake of severe delays.

“We are starting to put a dent in the backlog,” says Gould.

Last week marked a new high for passports issued: 54,312. That’s not only higher than at any point since before the pandemic, it’s also up over 20% since the previous week.

Gould says that the weekly rate is now up 53% compared to the week ending April 8.

“We are not out of the woods, but this is a positive trend. The next few weeks will be critical in keeping this momentum,” she said.

In-person services at passport offices are helping, she added. Last week, 19 out of 35 passport offices and an additional 18 Service Canada Centres offered extended hours of service including weekend appointments. New tools for scanning and data entry are helping to reduce the inventory, plus additional workers are coming onboard.

“Still, too many people have had to wait until their situation is urgent before they can get their passports,” says Gould. “The more progress we can make on the backlog, the closer we will get to an environment where Canadians can get their passports within our service standards. In the meantime, we’re working to make the experience at the passport offices better.”

The new triage system is helping turnaround times at busier passport offices, like in the Greater Toronto Area, Montreal, Ottawa, the Vancouver area, Calgary and Edmonton, she added.

“If your travel is scheduled in the next week and you have mailed in your passport application or applied at a non-passport Service Canada Centre and you do not have your passport, you should go to the nearest passport office to request a transfer of your application file,” says Gould. “If you mailed in your passport application and it was not processed within the 20 business day service standard, all additional processing and pick up fees will be waived.”

Service Canada has issued 556,796 passports since April 1, 2022. The total forecast for passports in 2022–23 is 4.3 million applications. Applications submitted by mail are being processed within 10 weeks, plus mailing time.

A reminder for families and other clients travelling with kids: Canadian citizens aged 15 years and under entering the U.S. by land or water, who don’t have a valid passport, only require one the following documents to cross the border – an original or a copy of a birth certificate, or an original Canadian citizenship certificate.