Canada revamps passport design, will roll out online renewal this year

Click to play video: 'Canada’s passport revamp sparks controversy'
Canada’s passport revamp sparks controversy
WATCH: Critics are not giving the cosmetic revamp of the Canadian passport their stamp of approval – May 10, 2023

Canadians will soon be able to renew their passports online as the federal government showcased an all-new passport design that has been a decade in the making.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser and Social Development Minister Karina Gould unveiled the redesigned passport at the Ottawa International Airport on Wednesday morning.

The passport has been updated from cover to cover with new artwork and improved security features, Fraser said.

“The new security features are going to help ensure Canadian passports remain one of the most secure, reliable and universally accepted travel documents anywhere in the world,” he said.
Click to play video: 'Officials reveal security details of revamped Canadian passport'
Officials reveal security details of revamped Canadian passport

The printing of the new Canadian passports is set for the summer and will be rolled out over the next year, federal ministers said.
The new Canadian passport is unveiled at an event at the Ottawa International Airport in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
The passport has been updated with new artwork and improved security features. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

And starting this fall, Canadians will be able to submit online applications for their passport renewal.

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In the months ahead, some Canadians will continue to receive the older version of the passport, which remains secure and reliable, Gould said.

“We still have existing stock of the previous generation and so we don’t need everybody rushing out to go get this new passport,” she said.

Those who have recently been issued a passport will continue to carry that until it expires.

What is new?

The new passport will look different from the current one that was released in 2013.

Besides a new cover design with an outline of a maple leaf, the inside pages feature artwork highlighting Canada’s diverse people, landscapes, wildlife and four seasons that only appear in ultraviolet light.

Ultraviolet light changes the colours and reveals security features. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
The passport redesign began in 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The new security features include a polycarbonate data page, which is the same technology used in Canadian currency and driver’s licences.

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“Additionally, passport holders’ personal information will now be laser engraved instead of being printed with ink, which is going to make the data page more durable and resistant to tampering and counterfeiting,” said Fraser.

Inside, a visible passport chip and antenna have been added to help confirm the validity of your passport and keep the information secure.

Some other features include a kinegram over the main photo that changes colours and appears to move when seen from different angles.

This passport redesign began in 2013 to prevent counterfeiting by integrating new and more modern security features and design techniques, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said.

Click to play video: 'Colourful new Canadian passport design and online renewal feature unveiled'
Colourful new Canadian passport design and online renewal feature unveiled

Some opposition MPs argued the new designs erase Canada’s history by removing designs of notable figures and images that have graced the passports for decades.

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre denounced the new designs in the House of Commons Wednesday, and accused the Liberals of attempting to erase essential Canadian history.

“Why will the prime minister not stand up for our history, get connected to reality and keep the images in our passport that make us so proud to be Canadian?” Poilievre asked during question period.

He also retweeted a post by Port Coquitlam, B.C., Mayor Brad West that said whoever approved removing Terry Fox from Canadian passports “needs to give their head a shake.”

“The Mayor is right,” Poilievre wrote. “Trudeau has no common sense in trying to erase our proud history from our passports.”

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The Royal Canadian Legion, meanwhile, criticized the removal of an image of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, which honours Canadian veterans who served during the First World War.

“It represents the sacrifice that actually led to the very freedoms that allow us to travel with our passports around the world today,” legion spokesperson Nujma Bond told Global News in an interview.

Fraser said the government consulted with several groups on the new design, which reinforced the need to reflect Canada’s natural environments and diversity, “rather than historical artifacts or symbols that we’re still very proud of.”

It was also important to change up the design as a security measure, he said.

“If you maintain elements that may have existed in the previous design, it becomes easier to counterfeit the Canadian passport, which is something we want to protect against,” he said.

Passport wait times

The federal government says it has resumed processing domestic passport applications after nearly two weeks of disruptions due to the public servants’ strike that ended on May 1.

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The passport program was significantly curtailed during the Public Service Alliance of Canada strike and Canadians were told not to apply as essential workers at the time were not allowed to open and process passport applications.

The only exceptions were for people experiencing humanitarian or emergency situations, such as travel for economically essential work, medical services abroad, to see a critically ill family member or in the event of a death in the family, Gould told Global News in an interview on The West Block last month.

Click to play video: 'Canada’s passport backlog ‘virtually eliminated,’ minister says'
Canada’s passport backlog ‘virtually eliminated,’ minister says

On Wednesday, she said Service Canada was playing catch-up as a result of the labour disruptions.

“We did lose a week of processing time, so there may be some longer lineups and processing times during this recovery. However, we have yet to see this and we are fully prepared.”

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The Canadian passport is ranked 26th globally, according to the Passport Index. Canadian passport holders can get visa-free entry into 115 countries and can get a visa on arrival in 51 countries.

—With additional files from the Canadian Press

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