Minister Gould announces a return to steady state on passport delivery and encourages Canadians to renew ahead of...

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GATINEAU, QC, Jan. 24, 2023 /CNW/ - Last spring, the Passport Program came under enormous pressure. There were major challenges connected to and exacerbated by the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some Canadians seeking passports suffered long lineups and lengthy delays.

Over the past 10 months, Service Canada has made significant strides in restoring access for Canadians to timely and efficient passport services. Now, the program has returned to a steady state.

Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould updated Canadians that passport delivery has returned to pre-pandemic processing times, the backlog has been virtually eliminated, and Service Canada is exceeding its delivery standard for most applications.

Since October 3, 2022, all passport applications received, both in person and by mail, have been processed within pre-pandemic service standards.

The Government's service delivery standard is 10 days to process in-person passport applications received at a specialized passport office and 20 days for applications received by mail or dropped off at a Service Canada Centre. Because of additional staffing, increased overtime and improved efficiency, Service Canada is delivering most passports by our 10- and 20-day target, achieving a 95% and 98% rate for complete applications, respectively.

Significant work has also been done to eliminate the application backlog. Far too many Canadians experienced processing delays throughout the spring, summer and fall, and there was an accumulation of applications that were not processed within service standards. Thanks to new, dedicated resources and active workload management, since the peak in August 2022, approximately 98% of these applications have been processed and the backlog has been virtually eliminated.

A small number of older applications remain within Service Canada's active workload inventory. Service Canada has assessed these complex files and is working diligently to complete the review and identify the appropriate outcome and ensure passport integrity.

If a Canadian has applied for but not received a passport within the published service standard, we encourage them to contact the Passport Program so outstanding issues can be resolved.

With increased capacity, we are now focusing our efforts and resources on maintaining service standards and anticipating growth in application volumes as 10-year validity passports, which were first issued in summer 2013, become eligible for renewal later this year.

The Passport Program expects and anticipates seasonal peaks in demand, just as there were pre-pandemic, which may sometimes result in lineups for in-person service. Service Canada continues to encourage Canadians to take advantage of the service options that are most convenient to them. This includes a network of over 300 Service Canada Centres that can provide 20-day service for passport applications, the additional 13 Service Canada Centres that now offer 10-day pick-up service for passports, as well as over 36 specialized passport offices offering 10-day pick-up service.


"Over the past year, Canadians have faced difficult and stressful circumstances as there have been delays in passport delivery. As of now, our passport processing times have returned to pre-pandemic performance targets. We appreciate the patience that Canadians have shown over recent months while Service Canada worked hard to eliminate the backlog and to return to meeting our service standards. We stand ready to meet the anticipated growth that we are expecting for the first set of 10-year passports that were issued in 2013."

– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould

Quick Facts

  • Since April 1, 2022, Service Canada has issued 2.38 million passports.
  • The service standard for an in-person application at a specialized passport office is 10 business days, and 20 business days for mail-in applications and applications made at a Service Canada Centre. The performance target for applications is for 90% of complete applications to be processed within these service standards.
  • The first set of 10-year passports was issued on July 1, 2013.
  • Passport Program statistics are published online, and all data is updated weekly.

Associated Links

Backgrounder on passport services
Canadian passports and travel documents
Find a Service Canada Office
Welcome to the eServiceCanada Appointment Booking Tool
Passport Program statistics
Canadian Passport Program on Twitter
Follow us on Twitter

Backgrounder on passport services

Since April 2022, Service Canada has put a number of measures in place to make it easier for Canadians to access passport services, and to improve processing.

This includes:

  • Implementing a triage system in metropolitan areas where required.
  • Implementing a new process that allows clients to request that their application be prioritized and transferred to an office for pick-up due to upcoming travel.
  • Establishing a simplified renewal process for any adult passport issued in the last 15 years.
  • Launching an appointment-booking tool at that directs clients to the right location for service.
  • Increasing access to passport services, with the addition of 13 Service Canada Centres offering 10-day service.
  • Adding processing hubs across the country.
  • Expanding the delivery of passport services to scheduled outreach sites to help meet the passport needs of rural and remote communities.
  • Adapting hours of service for clients who could not be accommodated during regular hours.
  • Publishing up-to-date statistics and wait times on a weekly basis via the Passport program statistics.
  • Requesting staff from other departments assisted with passport processing. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada also identified program delivery changes to help Service Canada process applications faster.
  • Increasing the number of staff delivering passports since April 2021 to over 2,600.


Total Passport Operational Workforce


Total Passport Operational Workforce

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December 2022


An overview since spring 2022

With the easing of restrictions and the resumptions of travel in the spring, Service Canada experienced a surge in demand for passports. This surge resulted in lineups and longer wait times for service.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a set of interconnected issues to which Service Canada was unable to swiftly and effectively respond. This affected the timely delivery of passport services to Canadians. These issues include:

  • a sudden increase in the volume of applications;
  • a loss of efficiency due to a shift to mail-in applications and public health capacity restrictions; and
  • a large proportion of complex applications.

Only 20% of the normally anticipated passport volume was received during the first 2 years of the pandemic. This means that 3 million fewer Canadians renewed or applied for a passport during the pandemic.

The high application volume, combined with the health and safety measures in place, led to a build-up of inventory that exceeded our capacity to process applications within service standards. The proportion of applications received by mail nearly doubled. In addition, a significant segment of all applications received were for new passports, as opposed to renewals. These are more complex and take longer to process than simple renewals.

During the summer, Service Canada implemented measures to help expedite the intake and processing of applications to help Canadians get their passports in a timely way.

By hiring more staff, increasing efficiency, and streamlining processes, Service Canada saw record numbers of passports issued between August and December 2022. Since October 3, 2022, all passport applications received, both in person and by mail, have been processed within pre-pandemic service standards. Also, in-person services are more reflective of a pre-COVID-19 experience, where lineups are manageable and passports are delivered within our service standards.

As of January 24, 2023, approximately 98% of passport application in the backlog have been processed, and the backlog has been eliminated.

Passport service now and in the future

Service Canada would like to encourage Canadians to submit their passport applications in advance of making travel plans. The service standard for an in-person application at a specialized passport office is 10 business days, and 20 business days for mail-in applications and applications made at any of over 300 Service Canada Centre. Applying in-person allows, in most situations, the applicant to have their documents reviewed in-person and to take their documents home with them instead of sending them in the mail.

The Passport program expects and anticipates seasonal peaks in demand, such as the upcoming March Break, which may result in lineups for in-person service, as occurred prior to the pandemic. The first passports with 10-year validity (issued in 2013) are also expiring this year, therefore Service Canada anticipates an increase of renewal applications. Canadians with passports expiring this year or those with new applications are encouraged to apply now.

For more information on how to apply and obtain a passport application, Canadians can visit the Canadian passports and other travel documents: Applying in Canada webpage.

Transfers for applications that are outside service standards

Canadians who applied for their passport more than 20 business days ago can contact the Passport Program, or visit a passport office or a Service Canada Centre to request a transfer, to ensure their application is processed in time for their travel. Proof of travel is not required for applications outside of service standards.

SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

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