No matter the passports. This mother from the Montreal area also wants to recover the birth certificates of her children

When Susan Mansour mailed her children’s passport applications, along with their birth certificates, as required, she didn’t expect to feel like she’d sent them into the ether.

Mansour, a kindergarten teacher from Île-Perrot, Que., and her husband Bachir Malha, an electrician, filed these documents at the Service Canada Passport Center on April 20, well ahead of their planned trip to Disney World later. this month.

Now the $4,000 trip they had saved up for is just weeks away; the plane tickets are paid for and Mansour has still not received the passports or any information on when she will collect the children’s birth certificates.

« We sent him early to avoid all that, » Mansour said. « It’s my summer vacation. We look forward, as teachers, to not chasing after documents or waiting for hours in line. »

Mansour is far from the only Canadian to have mailed personal documents for passport applications or renewals and not returned them, sometimes even after waiting in line for hours to pick up his valid passport at the desk.

Natasha D’Onofrio recently collected the passport of her five-month-old son, Nico Amato, after mailing all the necessary documents on May 9, but Service Canada has still not returned the baby’s birth certificate.

She needs to get it back in time for her baptism in August and may need to contact the province to get a new one.

D’Onofrio said reaching out to Service Canada to request the return of the certificate was a time-consuming chore in itself.

« Having to contact them is a nightmare, » D’Onofrio said, after spending a day repeatedly calling the Service Canada hotline for information about his son’s case.

« I made it through, but…it would have been impossible for me if I hadn’t had someone to watch the baby, » she said.

Natasha D’Onofrio has recovered the passport of her five-month-old son, Nico Amato, but is still waiting for Service Canada to return his original birth certificate. (Submitted by Natasha D’Onofrio)

The average wait time to reach the call center for the week ending July 3 was 51 minutes, according to Service Canada, which received more than a million calls during that period.

Passport applications keep coming in

Passport applications and related documents mailed in Quebec would have been sent to the processing and printing center in Gatineau, explains Élaine Chatigny, Quebec regional director for Service Canada.

« There are no more unopened applications. There is no more unopened mail, » Chatigny said. « Everything has been scanned or is being scanned. »

The easing of travel restrictions and the fact that at the start of the pandemic Service Canada was not processing passport renewals for anyone without imminent travel plans resulted in a monumental backlog of applications awaiting processing.

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With more than 750,000 passport applications since April clogging the system, many are lining up for days at Service Canada centers to get theirs faster. That was the scene at the Guy-Favreau complex in Montreal late last month. (Charles Contant/CBC News)

Since April, Service Canada has received more than three-quarters of a million passport applications and expects to receive a total of 4.2 million passport applications this fiscal year. The ministry could not confirm how many applicants are waiting to collect the documents they had to submit to obtain their passports.

The best way for people to get their documents back, Chatigny says, is to go to their local passport office and describe their situation to an officer.

« It’s either see a passport officer immediately that day, or we’ll take the information … and we’ll get into the system, and someone will call that relative to clear it up, » she said. « Each situation is slightly unique, but this is the best overall approach for individuals to obtain their passports or stop the process and obtain their child’s birth certificate. »

If Service Canada does not process complete applications within nine weeks, for people with travel plans more than 45 days away, it will not charge transfer and pick-up fees, a spokesperson for the service said. department in an email.

For children traveling to the United States, a birth certificate may suffice

Ongoing processing delays and uncertainty over when documents will be returned have also put parents traveling with children in the United States in a double bind.

Canadians under the age of 16 traveling to the United States by land or sea can enter the country without a passport, provided they present a valid birth certificate or Canadian citizenship card.

However, many people don’t know that, Chatigny said – and that has also contributed to the high volume of passport applications.

Learning now that her children, nine and 11, do not need passports to enter the United States if the family drove across the border is small consolation for Mansour, since she sent their birth certificates there. more than two months ago and she has already bought their plane tickets.

« I just felt very desperate that we actually had to cancel the trip or spend even more money, when we could have just hopped on the plane, » she said.


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