5 things you need to know about the new Canadian ePassport

TORONTO – Canadian passports are getting a high-tech makeover as of July 1 – and with any makeover, there comes a cost.

Here’s what you need to know about the new ePassport:

1. Now it has an electronic chip – but it won’t track you

While it will still look like a regular passport, it’s got a locked electronic chip in the back cover to store the personal information you’ll still see on page 2 of the passport (minus your signature), your photo and a security feature that proves its validity.

No additional information will be stored on the e-chip, so you don’t have to worry about it tracking your travels, or providing fingerprints or an eye scan.

2. New fees & time limits

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Now you have an option of getting the traditional 5-year or the new 10-year passport. While the previous 5-year passports cost $87, the price has increased to $120. The 10-year passport is $160, and the cost for a child up to 15 years is $57.

There will also be new service fees starting March 31, 2014. The following administrative services will cost $45 a pop: certified true copies of part of a passport, replacement of lost or stolen passport, file transfers between offices in Canada and retention of a valid passport.

Watch above: Canada’s new and more secure 10-year ePassport is now available to Canadians, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced Tuesday.

3. You can still use your old one until it expires

Passports that do not contain the electronic chip can still be used until they expire, but you can apply for an ePassport if you provide a written explanation as to why you are applying (i.e. “I want a new ePassport”).

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4. It celebrates Canada!

They’ve added some artwork to some of the 36 inside pages—such as “Symbols of Aboriginal peoples,” the Bluenose and the RCMP, to “make Canadian passports more attractive and more secure” according to the government of Canada website.

Canada’s Aboriginal People are at the very start of the Canadian story. These images are symbolic of their rich cultures and history and proudly open Canada’s new e-Passport. Credit: Passport Canada handout. Passport Canada handout

5. It’s worked well in other countries

The United States, the United Kingdom, France are some of the more than 100 countries that have used ePassports for several years without reporting any electronic chip failures. The government website states that the passport will still be valid in the unlikely event the chip can’t be read.

When it comes to privacy or data theft, Passport Canada notes that the chip must be 10 centimetres away from the reader and page 2’s machine-readable zone must be read before the chip is accessed, making it “extremely unlikely” that your data could be read without your knowledge.

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For more information, visit Passport Canada here.

Watch: Sheena Revet from Marlin Travel on Global Regina’s Morning News to talk about passport rules and changes.

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