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Ben Cousins CTVNews.ca Writer Published Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Canadians anxious for international travel are facing some lengthy wait times for passports due to a surge in applications.
According to Employment and Social Development Canada, processing time for a passport is five business days for those applying in person and 17 business days for those applying by mail.
“With the resumption of travel, Service Canada is experiencing an increase in passport applications across the country. Priority for appointments is given to clients with immediate travel needs based on their date of travel,” Maja Stefanovska, a spokesperson with Employment and Social Development Canada, told CTV News Atlantic.
According to the department, 1.2 million passports have been issued since the start of April 2021, compared to the 363,000 passportsthat were issued from April 2020 to the end of March 2021. Both of these figures are still far off from pre-pandemic levels, when Service Canada processed 2.3 million passports between April 2019 and March 2020, according to data provided to CTV News Winnipeg.
The surge in demand is leaving some travellers scrambling.
Ambreen Haroon is planning a trip to the United States for next month, but doesn’t think her new passport will arrive in time.
“I have to postpone my trip, and my parents are very old and they’re stressed out too by looking at everything coming back to them,” she told CTV News Winnipeg. “They were expecting a passport at this time. It’s so frustrating now.”
Meanwhile in Halifax, Mark Robinson experienced long lines at his local Service Canada location as he tried to get a passport renewed in time for a trip to Disney in two weeks.
“Now we’re in a bit of a panic to get it renewed before we go,” he told CTV News Atlantic.
Lorn Sheehan, a professor with Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business, said with some travel restrictions lifting on April 1 — when vaccinated travellers will no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test resultupon re-entry — people will be looking to get out there again.
“There’s absolutely pent-up demand for travel,” he said. “Travellers have been homebound for the last two years.”
If desperate, Service Canada said anyone who needs a passport within two business days can visit the nearest Service Canada passport office, but must also bring proof of travel.
Proof of travel can consist of a travel ticket, a written declaration, an itinerary with proof of payment, or proof of family emergency requiring immediate travel. The urgent passport comes at an additional cost of $110.