Canadians who are waiting for passport services in Canada are being urged not to make fake travel plans just to speed up their applications.
Following months of delays and backlogs at Canadian passport offices, it seems some travellers have been booking fake trips or vacations — which they later cancel — in order to bump them to the front of the line.
Under the "triage measures" that are currently in place at passport offices in Canada, those with proof of imminent or urgent travel plans can get their documents or applications expedited, and in some cases individuals are effectively able to skip the backlog.
The strategy has been criticized by Canadians, who say the government's advice appears to be unclear.
On one hand, travellers have been told by the feds to avoid booking trips without a valid passport. However, officials also say that you must show proof of travel plans in order to qualify for timely passport services.
In response to those who may be considering booking a fake vacation to cut the lines, Canada's Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould said doing so would be "disappointing."
"That is not something we’ve heard happening across the board, but of course if it is, I discourage it entirely, because it exacerbates an already overwhelmed system,” Gould told CTV News.
“I’d be very disappointed if someone decided to do that, because it’s very unfair to people who have done all the right things.”
She added that individuals would need "considerable resources" to be able to pay for a trip and later cancel it, all to speed up the process for getting a passport.
“There really is no need to do something like this,” Gould said, adding that in many places passport wait times have dramatically reduced and some are back to a pre-pandemic level.
\u201cWe\u2019re working hard to get passports into the hands of Canadians as quickly as possible, by continuing to build capacity and increase production. \n \nCheck back weekly for updated stats \ud83d\udc49 https://t.co/46BA6WStfs\u201d— Passport Canada (@Passport Canada) 1660319112
Since April, Canadians needing access to passport services have faced lengthy delays and significant backlogs.
In some cities, locals have lined up for hours and hours, starting during the early hours of the morning, in order to renew or apply for passports.
Queues have been so significant that ads on Kijiji offered to stand in line for hours at a time, for fees ranging from $20 per hour to $750 per day.
The federal government says the backlogs are due to an "unprecedented surge in demand," following two years of lockdowns and restrictions around international travel.
Measures have been put into place to take the pressure off passport offices, including "more responsive and efficient" specialized passport websites.
If you do have upcoming travel plans, find out everything you need to know about when (and how) to renew your passport ASAP to avoid getting caught out!
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.