'Unprecedented Surge' In Canadian Passport Applications Means Current Wait Times Are Wild

Get prepared ASAP if you're going on vacation! ⏰

Trending Editor
A hand holding out a Canadian passport. Right: Passengers in an airport.

A hand holding out a Canadian passport. Right: Passengers in an airport.

Wait times for passports in Canada are reaching up to 25 days, with queues lasting hours and hours — and Service Canada says it's due to an "unprecedented surge in demand."

Across Canada, travellers applying for passports have been experiencing long wait times at in-person locations and an increased number of passport request calls have been coming in each day.

Reports suggest that in Vancouver, individuals waited in line from 5:15 a.m. one day, but were still unable to get an appointment when the Service Canada centre opened at 8:30 a.m.

Others said they were waiting in line for the fourth time, after failing multiple times to secure an appointment.

Employment and Social Development Canada, which operates Service Canada locations, told CBC News that the surge is because so many Canadians have not travelled internationally over the past few years.

"This unprecedented surge in demand has resulted in appointments filling up quickly," they said.

The statement continued, "The Government of Canada recognizes that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians had other things on their minds and planning to renew their passports was not a priority."

"However, this decrease in passport applications would by necessity result in a higher-than-normal surge at a later date."

The figures prove that the numbers are surging.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, CBC reports that Service Canada issued 363,000 passports.

The following year, between April 2021 and March 2022, this shot up to 1,273,000 passports.

Similarly, the government is receiving more than 200,000 calls per day for passport requests, which is around 40 times more than Service Canada typically received pre-pandemic.

Online, the feds warn, "We’re experiencing very high call volumes right now. If you don’t have travel plans in the next 2 weeks, we suggest you wait to call us."

All of this means that anybody who does need to renew or apply for passports must be extra organized and look to get it done way ahead of any planned trips or vacations.

As of April 18, 2022, the average processing time for passports is between 5 and 25 days, per CTV News.

Last month, the feds announced that they would be making it easier for Canadians to renew their passports after it has expired.

Under the simplified renewal process, applicants don't need to have a guarantor or provide documents like proof of citizenship or a photo ID.

It could be argued that the passport is one worth waiting around for though, as Canada's passport was recently named among the best in the world due to its visa-free access to other countries.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Helena Hanson
Trending Editor
Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Canada's Trending Desk focused on major news. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.
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