Melissa Biggs, a Kingston mother of two, is warning other parents about her travel experience last year to Florida, where she says she was made to sign her son’s passport, rendering it invalid for future use.
“I remember travelling last year in the States and the TSA agent had made me sign the passport in order to continue on boarding our flight” Biggs told Global News.
It wasn’t until the arrival a new passport for her infant daughter nearly a year later that Biggs realized the grave error.
“You know travelling with a child you’re just trying to keep everything status quo, calm, get to and from without any issue” Biggs said.
Biggs says when she inquired about the signed passport with Service Canada she was told she would need to get a new one despite it having two years left before it expired.
“When someone approaches you that you’ve done something wrong or you need to do something,'” she said “I wasn’t about to argue, I don’t have the passport rules memorized.”
According to the Canadian government, “every passport needs to be signed by the person to whom it is issued.” Children even aged 11 to 15 are encouraged to sign their passports.
However, they go onto say “if not signed by the child, the signature block must be left blank.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirmed to Global news that Biggs isn’t alone in being pressured to sign her son’s passport.
“There are still occasional cases where border officials insist that a child’s Canadian passport must be signed by either the child or a parent/guardian” they wrote in a statement.
“In response to these difficulties, the passport program has made available a summary of its policy with respect to signatures on children’s passports, which can be printed from the government of Canada website and carried by parents/guardians when travelling internationally,” the ministry statement continued.
The PDF, which Biggs says she was informed about by her local passport office, is something she carries with her every time she travels now.
“I hope we don’t run into this problem again,” said Biggs.
“It is however slightly inconvenient carrying around an additional piece of paper that says I can’t sign my child’s passport.”
Luckily Biggs says she caught the mistake in enough time that their upcoming trip won’t be affected, however, she is now out the $60 cost of a new passport and photos for her son.
Biggs hopes that by sharing her story, it prevents future headaches for others.