Last spring, the Passport Program came under enormous pressure. There were major challenges connected to and exacerbated by the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some Canadians seeking passports suffered long lineups and lengthy delays.
Over the past 10 months, Service Canada has made significant strides in restoring access for Canadians to timely and efficient passport services. Now, the program has returned to a steady state.
Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould updated Canadians that passport delivery has returned to pre-pandemic processing times, the backlog has been virtually eliminated, and Service Canada is exceeding its delivery standard for most applications.
Since October 3, 2022, all passport applications received, both in person and by mail, have been processed within pre-pandemic service standards.
The Government’s service delivery standard is 10 days to process in-person passport applications received at a specialized passport office and 20 days for applications received by mail or dropped off at a Service Canada Centre. Because of additional staffing, increased overtime and improved efficiency, Service Canada is delivering most passports by our 10- and 20-day target, achieving a 95% and 98% rate for complete applications, respectively.
Significant work has also been done to eliminate the application backlog. Far too many Canadians experienced processing delays throughout the spring, summer and fall, and there was an accumulation of applications that were not processed within service standards. Thanks to new, dedicated resources and active workload management, since the peak in August 2022, approximately 98% of these applications have been processed and the backlog has been virtually eliminated.
A small number of older applications remain within Service Canada’s active workload inventory. Service Canada has assessed these complex files and is working diligently to complete the review and identify the appropriate outcome and ensure passport integrity.
If a Canadian has applied for but not received a passport within the published service standard, we encourage them to contact the Passport Program so outstanding issues can be resolved.
With increased capacity, we are now focusing our efforts and resources on maintaining service standards and anticipating growth in application volumes as 10-year validity passports, which were first issued in summer 2013, become eligible for renewal later this year.
The Passport Program expects and anticipates seasonal peaks in demand, just as there were pre-pandemic, which may sometimes result in lineups for in-person service. Service Canada continues to encourage Canadians to take advantage of the service options that are most convenient to them. This includes a network of over 300 Service Canada Centres that can provide 20-day service for passport applications, the additional 13 Service Canada Centres that now offer 10-day pick-up service for passports, as well as over 36 specialized passport offices offering 10-day pick-up service.