Standardized Passports Should Be The Norm
Check your Canadian passport expiry date because passport fees are going up July 1, 2013 and with good reason. If you like to budget like us, then you will have to save for your passport renewal fees every month in your projected expenses just as we do. Now we will have to make changes since the price of the Canadian passport is going up.
When I told my wife that my British passport didn’t expire for 10 years she thought that was a brilliant idea. The current Canadian passport expires every 5 years which can become a hassle for some people. I’m not sure what has taken so long but as we evolve globally it’s important to be somewhat on the same page as everyone else.
Sure it’s easy enough to make note of the five-year expiry date but five years is a long time and most people tend to forget. It’s not until they have to leave the country and find out that their trusted Canadian passport expires sooner than the start of their business trip or holiday. Either way, the passport will expire at some point in time and the holder is responsible for its renewal.
When I was younger I did plenty of travelling around the world. If I was unsure whether the time left on my passport was enough I would consult the country where I was going to find out what their entry requirements were before I left. They even advise us to do this on the Passport Canada website so it’s one way to get ahead of the game. Some countries simply won’t let you in if you don’t have a certain amount of time left on your passport.
If for example you have a wedding to attend out of the country make sure to plan well in advance so you don’t get left out of the fun. The smart thing to do would be to make sure you have ample time left before expiration prior to departure and returning from your trip and to do your research.
New Canadian ePassport
As of July 1, 2013 Passport Canada will be issuing a new type of passport for Canadians who are getting their first passport or renewing their Canadian passport. If you want to ditch the old version Canadian passport for the new ePassport you can do that as well even if you have more than 12 months remaining, but it will cost you. It is not necessary though because the old passport will work just as well as the new one until you need to renew. I certainly wouldn’t run out to grab a new passport if I didn’t have to as it seems like a waste of money to me.
Control passport fraud
The new passport is called an ePassport also known as a biometric passport and will offer a 10-year expiry date along with the current five-year option, but with new fees. The goal of the new passport is not to speed up the process like we would think, to get us through border crossings faster (although that would be a blessing for many) rather it’s to control fraud. Getting hold of a Canadian passport even to the élite fraudsters is like a ticket to paradise.
I’m guessing that over time as the immigration officers are more familiar with the e-reader used to read the passports that we may see an increase in speed. Planning ahead for potential time delay is probably the better option. I’ve been over the border once and it took me over an hour to get sorted with paperwork since I’m a permanent resident of Canada, so for me it may always be a waiting game.
Longer passport expiry
If you are getting a child’s passport under the age of 16 the maximum expiry allowed is a 5-year validity. The new ePassport will have a chip embedded in the back cover of the passport which will hold the same information that you currently see if you turn to page 2 of your Canadian passport minus your signature. It almost seems like double the security which isn’t a bad thing at all.
It will also store your photo and a digital security feature that will tell them if the passport was issued by the Canadian government. The Passport Canada website states that we can also expect to find new images of Canada inside the passport doubling up as a security feature.
No one will be able to get access to your information either without your knowledge because the passport e-reader first has to read page 2 of the passport through the machine readable zone before allowing access to the chip reader. This means the passport must be present and open to do so, implying that you will be there with your passport. Sounds like lots of work but I think it will be easier than we think.
I find that Canada is a little behind when it comes to new technologies but we are catching up slowly. I remember my wife having a credit card and the only security on it was her signature on the back which could easily be forged by anyone. Sure enough, she lost her wallet and someone went on a spending spree forging her signature that looked nothing like what was on the back of her credit card.
Needless to say the signature is useless especially since most retailers never check it. My wife used to ask the cashier, “Don’t you want to check my signature to make sure they match?” Most times the cashier would act as if he/she forgot to flip the card over to check and then apologize. Finally, we are proud to say that we have credit cards with chips in Canada many years after their start in France and the UK.
Personally, I renewed my passport 12 months prior to the release of the new ePassports in the UK a number of years ago. Since I’ve never had the luxury of owning one, I cannot give you any feedback at this time. Although, I can remember when plane tickets became extinct as they were systematically replaced by e-tickets and I didn’t hear any complaints about that.
If you want to be convinced that the information on the chip of your new ePassport is accurate they even offer the service of easing your mind. All you have to do is visit your nearest Passport Canada office to read the information on the chip if that makes you sleep better before you leave the country.
Applying for a Canadian passport
If you want to apply for your Canadian e-passport you can complete a Canadian passport renewal form online then print out the passport forms and mail the required information. If you qualify for the adult simplified renewal you can also find all the information you need online at the Passport Canada website. You can also find passport application forms at any Canadian Post Office as well as Shoppers Drug Mart carries them in store.
Another option is to bring the completed passport forms into your nearest Passport Canada office to get processed. You can pay for the passport fee with you credit card, debit card, pre-paid card or certified cheque or money order. If you mail in your application they only accept credit card, pre-paid card (embossed only) and certified cheque or money order.
So, don’t bring cash with you because it doesn’t look like they will accept that form of payment. Line-ups can be long if you go in person and like most places you take a number and wait your turn. You can also double-check with security as soon as you get into the passport office right at the door as they will welcome you into the office.
Where to get passport photos?
No smiling allowed still stands with passport photos and they are serious, so pack your smiles away and put on your boring face. I always struggle when I’m not supposed to smile. It’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you know you are not supposed to be doing something. I think it took the photographer a few takes with my wife because she couldn’t stop smiling.
I know that Shoppers Drug Mart offers passport photo services for about $10 plus tax as does Zehrs photo studio and Wal-Mart Portrait Studios. If you call around your local area you will easily find photo studios that will help you get your passport photos taken and to specifications.
We have been to both Shoppers Drug Mart and Zehrs for passport photos and they had the proper Canadian passport photo size requirement information available at the store. You must adhere to the specifications or risk being rejected.
Cost of new ePassport
How much will the new Canadian ePassport cost?
Good question because as of July 1, 2013 the fees for the new 10 year ePassport will change.
Passport Canada isn’t government-run, therefore not paid for by the taxpayers. Instead, they rely on monies collected by issuing passports as a means of self-funding. Passport prices seem to be reasonable and Passport Canada says they haven’t really increased prices in the last 10 years. It only seems fair that there is a bit of a price hike to protect our security and give us the great service that they do.
We all know that technology is getting better and better and most businesses and individuals do what they have to in order to keep up to date. Canada needs to keep up with what is happening internationally so we are somewhat on the same page.
The new 10-year ePassport will cost you $160 and the five-year ePassport will be $120 and a children’s passport $57. If you need the passport immediately you can speed up the service having it in your hands with-in one day for an extra $110 or express service 2-9 days for an extra $50 or 10-day pick-up for an extra $20. Personally, I’d opt for the ten-year as it makes more sense to me financially.
If you need your passport the same day and need the out of hours service then be prepared to pay a whopping $335 out-of-pocket. It is possible so unless you’ve lost your passport plan ahead and get your renewal ordered or order your new passport today. You can read the full fee structure for fees for applying for a Canadian ePassport outside of Canada or wanting it delivered outside of Canada as well as travel documents and other services for Canadians here.
The most important feature of the ePassport is that security measures are being enhanced. Passports can be a hot commodity in the identity theft scene especially for those who feel they can alter them in such a way to impersonate someone to gain access to money, credit and/or immigration. I think Canada is really stepping it up with the ePassport which has already been in use in over 100 countries including the UK and the USA without any problems.
Apparently not all border crossings will have the passport e-reader either, and for those that don’t the immigration officer will simply read your passport as they are currently doing. In the event that something should go wrong with the chip the passport will be read as it currently is so no reason to worry because it will still be valid to use.
That’s good news though because as we know with new technology anything can fail and not being able to get from point A to point B because of technology failure could get costly for many. Sometimes I wonder if we rely too much on technology and whether we are backing up the back-up just in case, because you never know what could go wrong.
My tip to you, visit www.passportcanada.gc.ca for all the up-to-date passport information including processing fees, application forms, processing times and passport offices in Canada. Get the most accurate information, right from the source. Get informed today about the new Canadian ePassport before you are left holding your suitcase while your friends are having fun in the sun on the beach without you.
Will you get the new ePassport if your current Canadian passport has not expired yet?
Would you make the trip to ensure all the information on the chip is accurate?
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Photo Credit: GrantChochrane/freedigitalphotos. net and empty glass (passport in pocket)