Passport wait times: what is the current situation in Canada?

After many Canadians were frustrated by long wait times for passports earlier this year, with some even camping outside passport offices for days, Service Canada says it has doubled down on efforts by hiring dedicated staff to speed up processing times. Did it work? Data provided by the department shows this, with a nearly 90% increase in passports issued in October compared to May, when the backlog was at its worst.

“Thanks to hiring efforts, increased efficiencies and streamlining processes, passport application inventory is down,” the agency said in its statement emailed to .

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Other passports are issued within 40 days, according to the statement. For the week of October 10 to October 16, 2022, 72% of passports were issued within 40 days, compared to 66% two weeks ago.

Five months ago, the agency experienced an unprecedented volume of applications that increased passport processing times, forcing Canadians to wait in long lines.

To provide timely passport services to Canadians, Service Canada said it has taken a number of steps, including dedicated passport counters in more than 300 centers and opening some centers on Saturdays.

Data provided to by Service Canada shows that after the pandemic, there was a huge drop in the number of people applying for passports before the unprecedented increase in passport applications.

The 2022 increase in May coincided with the peak summer travel season and the further easing of border measures announced towards the end of April 2022. There was a 90% increase in May this year, from 2,917 passport applications in 2020 to 281,055 in 2022.

Passport applications received for the month of May were also the highest on record since the start of the pandemic.

Of the total number of passport applications received in May this year, 57% were issued at that time.

Service standards for passport applications also vary by application method, which is typically 10 days for in-person applications and 20 days for couriers.

During the subsequent months of June and July, approximately 77% and 88% of passport applications were issued. The data shows that the significant decrease in passport inventory coincided with the number of overtime hours by the passport processing network.

The last week of June recorded the highest number of overtime hours, with 10,182 hours which included overtime spent solely on passport processing.

In the last two months of August and September of this year, the agency began processing more passport applications, crediting additional staff and overtime.

Recent data from Statistics Canada shows that in August, the number of Canadians traveling abroad more than doubled in August of this year compared to the same month last year. Passport applications for August have nearly doubled this year to 265,168 in August this year from just 127,644 last year.

Despite the surge in applications, a record number of passports were issued in August and September this year, Service Canada said, with a significant increase in the number of passports authorized per week.

The week of May 16, 2022, 41,350 passports were issued, compared to 77,234 the week of October 3, 2022, an increase of 87%.

The agency said it is important to note that not all passport applications received result in the issuance of a passport.

“A significant proportion of applications sent by mail result in the rejection of the file,” Service Canada said in its press release. « File may be incomplete due to photos not meeting specifications, child application does not contain proper custody/adoption documents, etc.) or requires follow-up with client. »

The agency expects to receive 4.2 million passport applications in fiscal year 2022-2023 and hired 926 new passport processing employees between April 1, 2022 and October 16, 2022, to meet increased demand for passports.

During the pandemic, the agency said it did not lay off. Instead, the passport workforce grew from 1,365 to 2,291 between April 1, 2022 and October 16, 2022. This included 600 new staff hired in May to focus on processing passport applications.


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