passport canada

Government asks people in Canada to stop booking fake trips to get passports faster

As if the over-crowding and lineups at all stages of travel out of the airport weren't bad enough right now, any Canadian looking to embark on a trip these days had better have a valid passport already, because the process to renew one is just as frustrating as a day at Pearson.

While some camp out at passport offices overnight and others pay strangers to wait for hours in line for them, others still have found a way to cheat the system so they don't have to really wait at all.

The federal government has outlined that anyone who has urgent need for a new passport — that is, who has a trip within the next 45 business days — must provide proof of that need in the form of an airline, bus, or train ticket; a travel itinerary with proof of payment; or written proof of a reason for travel, such as a death in the family.

Also, that any individuals with travel within the following 24 to 48 hours will be treated with priority over everyone else.

With this in mind, people have been coming up with fake reasons for needing a new passport ASAP, up to and including fully booking trips with no intention of actually going on them, simply cancelling them later for a refund or credit.

The practice has become such a trend that Canada's Minister of Families, Children and Social Development has spoken out about it, imploring people not to take this step to skip the wait and saying she's "disappointed" in anyone who opted for this route.

"That would be putting additional pressure on a system that is already pressured," Minister Karina Gould told the CBC this week.

"It impacts the whole system. There are a lot of people who did the right thing. They sent off their passports well in advance. Their applications are impacted by anyone who books fake travel."

While passport lines have been snaking around city blocks in recent weeks, the hiring of additional staff and the opening of more offices seems to have helped — according to the online wait time tool, the designated passport office on Victoria Street in Toronto only has a lineup of two hours as of Tuesday afternoon.

Anyone with a trip 46 or more business days out can apply by mail instead of having to go in-person, and can also visit any Service Canada location rather than a passport office specifically. Those with trips within three to 45 business days, meanwhile, can book an appointment at a passport office rather than trying their luck with a walk-in slot.

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