New rules to get Canadian passport add hurdles

CALGARY- It might cost a little extra and take longer the next time you renew your passport.

A little known rule change means some unexpected hurdles for anyone who’s ever changed their name.

You’ll need some documents that you might not have around the house.

Joanna Coates had to do some scrambling before a trip this Christmas.

She couldn’t find her passport and had to apply for a replacement.

However she discovered a new hurdle she didn’t expect.

“The clerk said your name on your birth certificate does not match your identification and I said well no of course not,” Coates said.

Since she had been married and divorced she had to have proof of her name changes.

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“I was sent to call statistics to Victoria where I was married in the province of BC and I had to get my old marriage certificate from them,” Coates says.

In the past, you could use your existing I.D. to get a passport.

But now the passport name must match your proof of citizenship.

If your surname has changed, anyone over 16 must show a marriage or common-law certificate, separation or divorce court order, certificate to dissolve a relationship or a resumption of surname certificate to get a passport.

Passport Canada says the rules are to enhance security and reduce fraud.

“It has left a lot of people in the lurch I am sure,”  said Allan Johannson from Legal-Ease Document Service.

Legal experts say the new paperwork is easy to get once you know the routine but it’s an extra cost and takes time if you don’t know the steps.

“It’s very hard for us who do this every day so for an individual who’s on their own and really has not background in tracing documents it can be a daunting task,” Johannson said.

He worries it’s even harder for people who changed their name before coming to Canada.

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It cost Joanna Coates $120 to cut through the new red tape and she wants to warn others before they apply for their next passport.

Visit the Government of Canada website for more information on the change and the exceptions to the rules.

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