Update: Passport Application Renewals:
The new "Simplified Passport Application Renewal" Procedure seems to be eligible for the same Epass short-lineups, but I think this might depend on the location. You must have a passport that is not yet expired, or has expired within the past 12 months to apply with the simplified method. You can fill in the form on your computer through Adobe Acrobat, and it will encode the data onto a barcode where you wiill probably be able to skip the Passport Office lineups (I've gotten conflicting info on this, so I guess it may vary office-to-office). Also, nearly ANY Canadian can act as a guarantor now if you have an old passport. If you just want to mail in your form, I'd say still use the simplified passport application method to make things easier for yourself.
March 2009 Passport Canada Update:
EPass has been discontinued by Passport Canada as of March 31, 2009. So far, they've yet to reply to my email asking why. From now on, you'll have to use 1 of:
- Interactive Simplified Passport Renewal, for those in Canada and the USA that are renewing their recently expired adult passports
- Interactive Adult Passport Application form (new or renewal)
- Interactive Child Passport Application form (new or renewal)
All three can be filled in directly on the the computer and then printed, or printed and filled in by hand. I recommend filling it out on the computer and then printing it off. Please leave a comment here (scroll all the way down) with your experiences with this form and method.
I'm not sure if you'll be able to skip any lines with these new forms if you fill them in on the computer and then print them off, but Passport Canada has been very un-busy as of late, but there might be a speed up in April and May as passports will be required to drive over the border as of June 1st, 2009.
The miscellaneous hints and tips section below is still relevant, but everything in red is now out of date.
Canadian EPASS Passport Intro:
This is a long read, but full of tips I haven't seen written anywhere else. I got mine in just 7 days without paying anything extra, so follow everything closely. And that wasn't even for a renewal, just a new application.
Currently, there are two ways to get your new Canadian Passport (or renewal) , the slow way, and the shortcut way. I will tell you how to get it done in the absolute fastest quickest way possible. So fast, that you'll probably laugh after leaving, like I did, since I was in and out in under 15 mins, while others were told the wait was over an 2 hours. It was so quick, I wouldn't even hesitate to go during my lunch hour (if I were close by). They said that Mondays and Fridays are the days with the longest waits, and I went in on Friday 2 hours before they closed.
This guide is written for those that need their new or renewed passport somewhat quickly and plan on going to one of the Passport Canada locations to personally drop off the passport form/application. As well, only adults can do the online method. Try to go to the real deal offices, not a Service Centre if you can.
Fill the Application for the Canadian Passport Online with E-Pass
Firstly, you still have to go in to the office and all that, but by filling it all in online, they don't have to re-enter it all in and make sure you included everything, they also let you skip over the line (details on that later).
In order to get your passport quick, you absolutely MUST fill out the passport form online at their website. Well, you don't HAVE to, but it is a good idea. Don't print it out and fill it, do it online with the e-pass. You'll have to click "Yes" or "Accept" to a couple security prompts and make an e-pass. Their online software is a bit finicky, so you might even need to do parts of it at a friend's/neighbour's house.
They allow you to save your application at any time, and come back to it anytime from any computer, so don't worry about power failures or anything. I actually had to go to my neighbour's house to print it off, since it kept printing off blank forms on my home system.
When to use E-Pass
Their online e-pass system does tend to slow down under heavy use, but is quite usable and still well-worth the wait. Keep in mind that if you're in, say, Vancouver/Surrey/Victoria, if you go on the site at 8am, there will be a ton of people on it, since it is 9am in Edmonton/Calgary, 10am in Winnipeg, 11am in Toronto/Montreal and noon in Halifax. So, if you're in the west, try to go on in the evening hours. If you're in the east, try to go on in the morning hours.
The guarantor information will still have to be filled in by hand, and don't forget to sign the application in the designated places. Print out all of your stuff, make sure you have your two identical pictures (one of which is certified by your guarantor) and have all of your identification documents on you.
Why File For Your New Passports Online?
By doing it online, when you show up to the office, you get to skip the entire line and minimize waiting!!! When they ask you in the initial "triage" lineup as they're handing out queue tickets, tell them that you did it online and it has the barcode. I guess they've had people say they did it online, while what they meant was that they printed it off and filled it out by hand. So, just make sure it is clear to the first people you talk to that you did the online one and have a barcode.
People with a hand-written application get an office lineup ticket which is A### (eg: A314 or A254, etc). The system is all electronic, so waiters get to sit and wait for their number rather than stand in line. You do NOT want an A ticket. Your queue ticket should read C###. If you get an A ticket, talk to the commissionaire and mention that you have an online application. The C tickets are essentially "next in line tickets", so as soon as the Commissionaire prints one off for you, look to see if your number is on the screens (it could be at any of the booths, booths aren't "A" booths all the time). The C ticket is the government's reward to you for saving their time and energy on data entry, plus your tax money. This is how it worked in Mississauga, different cities seem to have different letter coding systems... They just scan the barcode, and the software automatically make sure everything is correct and fills in their forms, saving everyone tons of time.
Where To Get Your New Passport or Canadian Passport Renewal In Mississauga
For New Passport Applications and Renewals in Mississauga, take a look at my new website: Maps and Directions to Passport Canada Mississauga
- Use a decent web browser like Firefox to fill out the form properly the first time.
- For the sake of speed, I recommend attaching your papers and pictures together with one paper clip. Have all of your ID in a nice stack. If paying in cash, have the $87 Adult Passport Fee ready in exact change(see this link for other child fees, rush, etc.), or your debit card or credit card ready.
- Use Google Maps to get directions to the office. Bring coins if you might need them for parking.
- Try to choose references that have a cellphone, so that they can be reached at any time. Don't choose references that do, say, shift work, and are unreachable for large parts of the day unless you absolutely have to.
- Watch out on Hurontario/410 just north of the QEW, the speed limit is 50km/h, so especially avoid the rightmost lanes, or just be careful.
- Keep your receipt, you may need it. Apparently the whole process is tracked. My passport came in an Xpressport Prepaid Envelope with no identifying return address, other than a postal code in Gatineau, Quebec. I guess Xpresspost w/ Signature Delivery is what they consider "Registered". Nice touch. So if you have a random Xpresspost delivery notice instructing you to go to your Post Office, then it is probably your new passport. I'm not sure if any passports come from other places or not.
- You can still do the online application for mailed-in applications, which should also speed things up and reduce the chances of an error.
- If you need to check the status of your new passport application or renewal, use Passport Canada's status check. If you need to call, leave a general Passport inquiry on their website, and let them call you back, if you don't want to wait on hold.
Final note: Feel free to ask the Passport Canada people any questions you may have, or even chit-chat for a little bit if you feel like it (you did your job by saving them tons of time on data entry). They're people just like you and me. As well, don't get overly irritated if something doesn't go your way. It is sad to see some officers actually behind a security barrier.