Wednesday,  August 12, 2020  7:20 pm

How to get your passport renewed during COVID-19

How to get your passport renewed during COVID-19
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Getting a passport is straightforward enough.

But renewing one during a global pandemic is a bit trickier.

As it stands, you can only get a passport right now if you require one for urgent travel, meaning that you potentially have a serious illness, or must tend to the serious illness or death of another individual that you have/had relations with, you suffer from economic hardships due to the loss of a job or business (the cost of an airline, bus or train ticket does not constitute economic hardship), or you’re required to travel for humanitarian grounds, supported by the requesting organization.

In other words, you can’t get a passport at any of the Service Canada offices until further notice, and processing on any outstanding applications will occur when service returns to normal.

“In response to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the Government of Canada issued a global travel advisory requiring that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada,” said Rémi Larivière, spokesperson, media relations, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. “The health, safety and security of Canadians is our top priority and we are taking a whole-of-government approach to fighting the spread of COVID-19.”

Delays to be expected

Canadians who need their passports renewed can still get it done but should expect a delay.

“Passport services are currently delivered based on urgent travel needs without a distinction between urgent service and express service,” Larivière said.

Prior to COVID-19, Canadians had the option to select the Urgent or Express option on their passports, essentially paying a little extra to have their passport processed faster.

For Canadians who require a new passport photo but cannot visit a commercial photographer due to physical distancing restrictions in their communities, they can submit a photograph which meets the International Civil Aviation Organization’s specifications available on the IRCC website.

However, one group of Canadians is exempt from the current regulations.

“Canadians abroad who don’t have a valid Canadian passport and need to return to Canada urgently as result of COVID-19 don’t have to pay the fees for urgent travel documents,” Larivière said.

Canadians can contact the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to apply.

For applicants in Canada, the Government is not charging applicants expedited service fees if they meet the criteria for urgent travel.

“The Government is also offering some applicants a passport that will be valid for one year at no charge if they are travelling urgently due to the illness or death of a family member abroad as result of COVID-19, or taking part in an aid organization’s humanitarian operation related to the pandemic,” Larivière added. “This additional measure is to help individuals attend to family needs abroad, and to support Canada’s contribution to international efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

Regular fees still apply, including the passport fee for a 5- or 10-year passport.

For those who already paid, the Government will automatically issue refunds to eligible clients. Clients do not have to contact the Department. However, refunds will take some time as they will be processed and issued once normal operations resume.

For more information on getting your passport renewed during COVID-19, click here.

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