Passport Application Tips

So today I embarked on the whole passport application process. If you’ve been catching the news, they’ve had periodic pieces on the backup and delay with getting the passport etc. Well I went through the process myself today and now that it’s out of the way, I thought I would share some insight into making it slightly more bearable.

Apparently they’re encouraging people to mail their application in. I would probably avoid that. There were numerous people in line today at the office who had mailed it in more than 2 months ago and their status? Apparently the package is in Ottawa somewhere sitting unopened. Also when you send it in, you have to enclose your important documents. For example proof of citizenship.

With our notorious mail service and numerous stories of mail theft for identity theft, I’d probably avoid it. Besides, this method seems to take the longest!

So here’s for those people who are going to go in person. First a disclaimer note. I’m not responsible for what you do with the info here, it’s just my experience and what I’ve heard from others who’ve gone through the process — no guarantees.

Tip #1 – Apply at the Richmond Office
Apparently, it has the shortest lines of all the offices. Be prepared to line up before the office opens (The guy at the front of the line said he was there at 6:30am). The office can have a total of 52 people inside at a time. At opening time if you’re within the first 52 people you’ll be scooted inside and most likely processed within an hour.

Tip #2 – Be prepared for a line
No matter what you’ll be waiting. Just to make it slightly more bearable, dress warmly (it gets cold sitting outside for long periods of time) and bring entertainment material (iPod, magazines, books, etc). Some people even brought camping chairs / folding stools. They were smart.

This is the big one!
Once you enter the office it’s a standard queued line. You basically get a number and you wait to get called. For some reason it’s faster for them to process applications that have been filled online.

You fill in all your information, set up your printer properly and print out the application when you’re done. After you get it signed it’s exactly the same as the paper application. The only difference is that your info is printed instead of written in.

When you enter the office they’ll ask you if you filled yours online, if you did you get TWO queue numbers. Whichever one comes up first you get served.

For myself, once I entered the office it was a matter of 5 minutes and I was out of the office. I did see some people who entered a full 2 hours before me still waiting. If I had to wait for my normal queue number (which is what anyone with a paper copy had to wait for) I would be 52 people away.

If you wish to be able to pick up your passport in person within a month, make sure you remember to bring your confirmation / ticket / e-ticket to prove you are traveling soon. Otherwise they will mail you your passport. The agent advised of 4 weeks, however I’ve had a few friends receive it within 2 or 3 weeks.

Good luck!

8 Comments so far

  1. Toby (unregistered) on April 3rd, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

    I just want to add my two cents in corroboration with this post: Richmond, be prepared, do online. I too am a survivor of the passport prdeal and compared to my friends, I had it pretty good even though I didn’t get in the line until 11am. I think I waited 4 hours but it doesn’t really feel like it if you mentally tell yourself that it’s going to take 4 hours so suck it up (unless of course you aim to be first in line). Good news is, if it’s clear you won’t make it, the guards or staff there will tell you and they do guarantee that if you get to the point of receiving a number, you’ll get processed that day.

  2. Ghosty (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 8:17 am

    Thanks for pointing that out. They were pretty good about keeping people posted about what’s going on.

  3. Joe (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 10:05 am

    Just remember, Richmond doesn’t offer pickup service (they mail out all passports), so if you really do need your passport in a hurry, go to Vancouver. I went to the Vancouver office at Sinclair Center at 4:45am a few weeks ago (It opens at 7:30am). I was 16th in line, so even though I didn’t do my app online (idiot that I am) I got processed quickly. Apparently, if you get in line by 8 am, you’ll be waiting until afternooon, and if you’re not in line by 10am, your chances of getting in that day are slim. I got my passport pickup time for 2 1/2 weeks, which I thought was pretty damn good (I had tickets for May).

  4. Ghosty (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

    Actually, there is a sign on the Richmond office window that says in order to pick up within a month in person you had to have proof of travel WITH YOU as you submit your application. If not they will mail it for sure.

  5. Joe (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 10:21 am

    Odd, the Passport Canada Website says there’s no pickups at all in Richmond.

  6. H of L (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

    Unfortunately, for the lot of Vancouverites who are now ex-pats, the mailing option (or rather, the courier option) is the only viable one. That said, leave this option plenty of time, and call them; in fact, since the courier option has an electronic tag at pickup and delivery, Passport Canada will have a record of the delivery in Hull, QC, the latter location for which, as far as I understand, is the only option for ex-pats.

  7. Rebecca (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

    There’s always the Surrey office too, right inside the tower at Gateway.

  8. 2 day service (unregistered) on April 15th, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

    i guess you can get your passport in two days
    1 day to fill out all info and second day you show up, wait in line while buddy pastes your picture to the passport.

    and you pick it up from his hand…not no courier bs

    i fly apr 26
    it’s apr 15, oh my gawd

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