Passport Renewal Relief: In Time For The First Long Weekend Of The Summer
In the two months from March 1 to April 30, 2021, Service Canada says it issued 363,000 passports. One year later, as COVID travel measures started to subside, in the same time period, the number of issued passports spiked to 1,273,000. This would certainly explain the extremely long waiting times experienced by applicants. Recently, Service Canada announced that they received about 500,000 passport applications. Currently, they are prioritizing applicants who have immediate travel plans. They have plans to combat the waiting times, however, as per May 17 announcement.
One of the major causes of the extreme service delays was the reduced capacity mandated by the requirement to limit the number of clients and staff to protect the heath and safety during the pandemic. On May 17, Service Canada announced the reopening of all passport service counters across the country with capacity back to pre-pandemic levels. There will not only be more functional Service Canada locations, but also a 40% increase in capacity at service counters, as more employees return in person to their posts. An additional 600 new employees have been hired to support the processing of passport applications.
Also, new workload management and processing technology is being implemented to facilitate the effort. “Eservices.canada.ca/reservation” is an online appointment booking tool that can be accessed at all times from a personal computer, tablet, or cellphone. The tool also helps applicants find the right location to submit their applications. Additionally, Service Canada simplified the renewal process that allows applicants of an expired passport (including those that have been lost, damaged, or stolen), if it was issued in the last 15 years, to apply without a guarantor or original documents such as proof of citizenship or photo identification. All they need is two photos, two references, a completed form, and applicable fees.
On the bright side, those who have managed to brave the long waiting times to submit their application can expect to receive their brand-new passport in less than 10 business days. Those who are travelling within the next 25 days or sooner should consult the Service Canada website to find out how they could use the urgent pick-up service that may be available to them.
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