What is a passport?
A passport is required to travel between countries and is a legally identifying document. Luckily, passports are relatively easy to access as a Canadian citizen (as explained in this article), though you have to be wary of the expiry date. Once your passport expires, or in some cases, is even a few months away from being expired, it is considered invalid and cannot be used for travel. You do not want to miss out on a fun, important, and/or emergency trip because of an invalid passport- or, even worse, get stuck in another country when you’re trying to get back home.
Therefore, you must renew your passport in a timely fashion. You will not be able to travel internationally without a valid passport. Luckily, the process is straightforward and compiling your application shouldn’t take more than a few days. Here’s all you need to know about renewing your passport in Canada.
Who can renew a passport?
If you’ve previously held an adult Canadian passport, you’ll most likely be able to apply for renewal- though there are a few restrictions, as will be discussed here. Firstly, your current passport must either be expired or close to it. Due to the regulations regarding near-expired passports, you can apply to renew your passport up to a year before its official expiration. However, children must re-apply for a new passport each time it expires. In Canada, only adult passports can be renewed, assuming you meet the requirements. To be safe, if you travel or may need to at any time, the best practice is to ensure that everyone in your family has a valid passport at all times.
Even as an adult, you must meet a few requirements to qualify for renewal rather than having to apply for a new passport again. Firstly, if your passport has fully expired, it must have been issued within the last 15 years. So, even if it’s been years since you left the country (looking at you, COVID-19…), or don’t have plans to leave anytime soon, don’t wait too long to renew your passport regardless so that you can deal with a simple renewal rather than a tedious new passport application.
Naturally, when applying for a renewal, you also need to ensure you haven’t changed any crucial personal information such as your place and date of birth (though these would be quite difficult to change). However, other information that is more possible to change, such as your legal name or gender, would also require a new passport application.
Finally, though it may go without saying, if you lose or damage your passport, you will most likely need to apply for a new one rather than renew it. If either of these things happens to you, head to your local post office (or embassy, if it happens while travelling) as soon as possible to sort things out.
Overall, if you’re an adult with a pre-issued passport and meet all the requirements listed above, you should be eligible for a passport renewal.
When should you renew your passport?
When applying for an adult Canadian passport, you can select whether you’d like it to be valid for 5 or 10 years. Once this time is up or near up (within six months – 1 year of expiring), it’s time to renew your passport. Even if it isn’t expired, you should also renew your passport if your passport pages are full (happy travels!) or if you need to update/renew any visa or residency information simultaneously.
How to renew your passport in Canada
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: a step-by-step guide on renewing your passport in Canada.
Obtain and complete the application form
Firstly, you’ll need to fill out the application form from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which you can either download or print for free from their website or pick up at any Canada Post location near you.
Once you have the form, it’s quite intuitive. Simply input all your information as it directs you to. You can save as you go online so you don’t lose any work or fill it out by hand if you’ve chosen to print or pick up a physical copy.
If you fill out the form physically, do not use white-out for any errors you make. Instead, you are allowed to either re-print it or pick up another copy (depending on how much progress you’ve made) or cross out your mistake and correct the error by writing the correct information next to it.
Get your passport photo
Alongside the form, you’ll need to submit an updated passport photo. You have to submit two copies of the photo, which must meet the following specifications:
- The photo size must be 50mm wide and 70mm high.
- Your face must be the photo’s focus, and your face height must be between 31mm and 36mm.
- The photo can be black and white or in colour, but colour is recommended.
- Do not wear any non-necessary accessories around your face. For example, head coverings worn for religious or medical reasons are allowed so long as they don’t obscure your face.
- The photo should be clear, without any flash reflection, glare or shadow.
- You can wear natural makeup, but your daily skin tone and features need to be untouched- you don’t want to look like a different person when you show up at the airport! Additionally, it’s safer to go with a more matte look- anything too dewy or highlighted may contradict the photo reflection requirements.
- Do not smile or frown excessively. Keep your expression neutral.
- Make sure you have a white background.
It’s best to head down to your local drugstore (such as London Drugs) or work with a professional photographer and tell them you need a passport photo. They’ll know exactly what to do. Photos taken at home may not meet the specific requirements adequately.
One of the two copies must be stamped and dated on the back by the photographer, and the stamp should include the studio’s name and address. You do not need to sign the photos yourself.
Guarantors are only required for new passport applications, so you can skip this step for a regular passport renewal.
Determine the passport application fee
Unfortunately, applying for a passport renewal in Canada is not free. You will have to pay a small fee to officially submit your application. To determine how much you’ll need to pay, here’s a quick guide to the basic costs:
- 5-year adult passport: $120
- 10-year adult passport: $160
However, if you left your renewal application late and are on a super tight schedule, you can also pay extra to expedite your passport renewal, according to these prices:
- 1-day passport pickup: $110
- Express 2-9 day passport pickup: $50
- Guaranteed 10-day pickup: $20
If you need an extra-fast pickup, submit your application in person at a passport office. Finally, bring some extra cash just in case you need any of the following items, as well:
- A true certified copy: $45
- File transfer to a new/different passport office: $45
The embassy may request a true certified copy, so be prepared just in case. File transfer charges are required when you want to transfer your documents to any different passport office than the one you’ve worked with previously.
Submit your application
At this time, you must pay for your Canadian passport application either in person or by traditional mail- you cannot pay it online. However, you can pay at any Canada Post, Service Centre Canada, or Passport Program office.
You can pay with a debit card, credit card, prepaid card, money order, and certified cheque. Currently, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted if you pay by card.
Here are three credit cards with no foreign transaction fee: ideal if you travel abroad!
Alternatively, you can pay for your passport application through the mail. Select and fill out the payment option on your application form, and attach your payment details for a credit card or cheque. Double-check that you’ve filled out and paid everything correctly, submit your application either in person or by mail, and voila! You are good to go. All you have to do now is sit back and wait to receive your renewed passport.
Receive your passport!
Once your passport is ready, you can choose to pick it up from your local passport office or directly to your address by mail. Once you receive it, make sure you sign it and write your address on pages 3 and 4, respectively. You’ll need it fully signed for international travel and don’t want to be stopped at the airport.
Once you completed this task, congratulations! Your passport is 100% renewed and ready. Now, all you have to do is store it in a safe place until your next trip.