The process of renewing a passport has become a bit more complicated.
On Monday, there was a pile of camping chairs leaning up against the wall and tossed on the grass in front of the Service Canada location in Fredericton — a small indication of the lineup that had formed.
The lineup was for people wanting to renew a passport urgently, which you can do in person.
However, the government has been dealing with a backlog as many residents are trying to renew them after two years of COVID-19, many using the “urgent” function, which is furthering the delays.
Nadia Robichaud, who travelled from Moncton, said she’s hopeful she can get her passport ahead of her trip to Las Vegas in July. If not, she’s going to be out more than just the gas and lodging she paid to get her passport.
“I travelled all the way from Moncton, just for them to tell me they weren’t taking any more walk-ins today,” she said.
Robichaud took a day off work to come in person and said she’ll be losing at least another day’s worth of pay to come back.
“They told me that I had to come back on Thursday and I almost cried because it is very expensive to travel right now,” she said.
The office opens at 8:30 a.m. and by noon security could be heard telling people they were no longer taking any applications, instead giving people appointments to return the following day.
Odenya Sandoval is an international teacher and stopped by the Service Canada location with the hope she could get her application expedited.
She left with an appointment for another day.
“I need my passport to be renewed. I’m going to see if I can rush it because I work overseas,” she said.
Others, who used the traditional process to apply, have no idea of the status of their passport.
Ehab Misk, who plans to travel to see family in Egypt, said if he has to cancel the flights he purchased before the war in Ukraine, it’ll likely cost him more now to rebook.
“No one is picking (up) the phone, no one is replying to emails sent (which are) on the online form and then I came here several times from Saint John,” he said. “So, it’s an hour drive so this is my third time to come to ask.”
Many of the people who were in the lineup actually drove in from Quebec.
Large crowds gathered in Montreal – so, many in fact, that police were called to help security manage them.
Danford Diaz was one of the few people who left the Fredericton location with his passport.
“A long, long trip. I’ve been to Quebec, I’ve been to Montreal, well Montreal,” he said. “It’s chaos and everything but now I have and I’m happy. I’m just done with it.”
Diaz is planning a trip to New York to see family and said he was happy to finally be able to do that.
In an email, the federal department of Employment and Social Development said Service Canada “recognizes that the increase has resulted in lineups and longer wait times for service, and we understand the concern this may cause for clients.”
“Due to high volumes, processing times are longer than usual. We may not always meet our service standards as a result. Service Canada has adjusted the information on our website so Canadians can know what to expect, based on the urgency of their requests, and the way they made their applications.”
It suggests people seeking a passport urgently do the following:
- Anyone who needs a passport within two business days must visit one of the specialized passport sites (Service Canada Centres – Passport Service) offering urgent pick-up service. Proof of travel is required.
- Those travelling within 3-45 business days can use the walk-in service at one of the 35 specialized passport sites (Service Canada Centres – Passport Service). Appointments are recommended, and proof of travel is required. Please note that wait times at these sites may be long due to the current demand. Passports may take up to 2 weeks, plus mail time.
- For anyone travelling in more than 45 days (or with no specific travel date), over 300 Service Canada Centres are available to receive passport applications in person. No proof of travel is needed. These applicants also have the option to mail in their applications. Passports may take up to 9 weeks, plus mail time.
Service Canada says the expected number of passports they anticipate processing for 2022-23 is 3.6 million to 4.3 million applications.