Canadian passport processing back to pre-pandemic service standards

Edana Robitaille
Published: June 30, 2023

Service Canada has reported that passport delivery has returned to pre-pandemic processing times.

A recent news release by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says that there are no more passport application backlogs, and that Service Canada is exceeding the delivery standard for most applications. This is despite a brief disruption caused by the Public Service Alliance of Canada strike that lasted 12 days from April 19-May 1.

Nearly all passports are now being delivered within the 10–20-day target (depending on how the passport application is submitted). ESDC says approximately 98% of passports issued are issued within service standards regardless of the intake method.

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The news comes a year after passport offices all over Canada experienced unprecedented demand for new, or renewed, passports following the removal of many COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Lines at passport offices were often hours long, with some people camping overnight to ensure they could submit their application in person.

The department says passport staff have been working on improvements to service in anticipation of a wave of renewals that are expected this summer. Canada introduced passports with 10 years of validity in July 2013 and these will expire shortly.

The improvements to service mean that new Canadian citizens should not find it difficult to make plans to travel home to see loved ones on their new passports this summer.

Other improvements to passport services in Canada

Passport Canada has issued 852,589 passports so far in 2023 and issued 3,346223 passports between April 2022 and March 2023. It forecasts that it will issue between 4.3 and 4.9 million passports in the 2023/2024 fiscal year. Passports are only available to Canadian citizens

One way that Service Canada plans to help maintain service standards is by offering online renewal. As of May this year, those with passports that have either expired within the past 15 years or those with passports that were lost, stolen or damaged will now be able to submit the necessary documents online instead of waiting in line at an office or putting important documents in the mail.

This does not apply to new citizens who are applying for their first Canadian passport.

Further, throughout the spring, Service Canada opened 7 new 10-day passport offices in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. They are located in:

  • Prince George, British Columbia
  • Lac-Mégantic, Quebec
  • Gaspé, Quebec
  • Saint-Georges, Quebec
  • Timmins, Ontario
  • Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec
  • Dryden, Ontario

Once an application is submitted, Canadians can keep track via an online passport application status checker. ESDC says Since the launch of the service on March 21, 2023, there have been over 702,000 visits to the online status checker website.

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