Canada's New Government to Introduce New Measures to Simplify the Passport Process



    GATINEAU, QC, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister
of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Atlantic Opportunities Agency, announced
today new measures to simplify the passport issuance system, improve
satisfaction among Canadians, and allow Passport Canada to cope with increased
demand.
    "Canada's New Government has been working to improve Canada's passport
services and make the system more convenient for Canadians," said the
Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Over the summer and
fall, we will begin implementing a series of initiatives to simplify and
improve the passport application and issuing process while ensuring the
security and integrity of the Canadian passport."

    
    The new measures include;
    - A Simplified Passport Renewal Program allowing Canadians who currently
      hold a valid passport, and who meet eligibility criteria, to be able to
      renew it without submitting proof of citizenship or a guarantor
      declaration.
    - A Simplified Guarantor Policy which will allow most Canadian adult
      passport holders to act as guarantors for first-time applicants.
    - A Series of Passport Clinics across the country with a special focus on
      border areas and areas far from large urban centres. Passport officers
      will be on site to answer questions from the public about applying for
      a passport, review passport applications to ensure they are complete,
      and will accept completed passport applications for processing.

    These measures are part of a broader effort by Canada's New Government to
modernize Canadian passport services and increase its capacity to better meet
demand. Measures include:

    - Launching a staffing campaign to fill hundreds of new full-time
      positions;
    - Extending office hours where warranted, such as Montréal, Pointe-
      Claire, Whitby, Brampton and Vancouver;
    - Opening 65 additional Receiving Agents in border and rural communities
      at participating Canada Post and Service Canada centres;
    - Moving some operations to larger facilities to accommodate new
      personnel and increase capacity;
    - Expanding existing office space where facilities permit;
    - Adding an evening production shift in certain locations to accelerate
      the processing of applications; and
    - Modernizing technology and streamlining processes.

    Canadians can send their applications by mail, use Service Canada or
Canada Post services, fill out their application using Passport On-line or
visit a local office. A complete checklist identifying the steps in the
passport application process, as well as the location of Passport Canada
offices and Canada Post / Service Canada receiving agents, is available at
www.passportcanada.gc.ca.

    Passport Canada is a Special Operating Agency of Foreign Affairs Canada.
Its mission is to issue secure Canadian travel documents through
authentication of identity and entitlement, facilitating travel and
contributing to international and domestic security.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

            NEW MEASURES TO SIMPLIFY THE PASSPORT ISSUANCE SYSTEM

    Over the summer and fall, Passport Canada will introduce a series of
initiatives to facilitate the passport application and issuing process while
ensuring the security and integrity of the Canadian passport.

    Simplified Passport Renewal Program
    -----------------------------------

    The Simplified Passport Renewal Program will be available as of August 15,
2007 and is part of a broader effort to modernize Canadian passport services.
    It will allow Canadian citizens who meet certain eligibility criteria to
renew their passport using a shorter form and without submitting documentary
evidence of citizenship, supplementary identification and a guarantor
declaration. Under the renewal program, passport applicants will only be
required to submit the shorter form along with two new photos, the application
fee and their last passport.

    Canadians who meet the following eligibility criteria will be able to
benefit from this program:

    - They must be residing in Canada at the time they apply.
    - They must have resided in Canada at the time of their previous
      application.
    - They were 16 years old or over at the time of their previous
      application.
    - Their previous passport:
            - Must have been valid for five years,
            - Must have been issued after January 31, 2002,
            - Was never damaged or reported as lost or stolen, and
            - Must have been issued under their current name.

    This program will yield benefits to both passport applicants and Passport
Canada. Applicants will save time and will not have to surrender important
documents such as their birth certificates or citizenship cards for an
extended period of time. Passport Canada's productivity will increase, as
fewer steps will be required for the entitlement and screening of each file.
Renewal applications are still subject to all current security verifications.
    The new Simplified Passport Renewal Program application form will be
available at all Passport Canada service points and through Passport Canada's
Web site, and it will be accepted at all of Passport Canada offices, through
receiving agents and by mail.

    New Guarantor Policy
    --------------------

    On October 1, 2007, Passport Canada will introduce a simpler guarantor
policy, which will allow most Canadian adult passport holders to act as
guarantors for first time applicants.

    Under this new policy, to be a guarantor, a passport holder:

    - Must hold a five-year Canadian passport that is valid or has been
      expired for no more than one year,
    - May be a family member,
    - May reside at the same address as the applicant,
    - Must have known the applicant for at least two years, and
    - Must be a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older and must have been
      16 years of age or older when they applied for their own passport.

    By moving to a Canadian passport holder criterion for guarantor
declarations, Passport Canada will be able to verify guarantor information
from its own database, and will not have to rely on occupational directories.

    Passport Clinics
    ----------------

    This summer, Passport Canada will be holding passport clinics across the
country with a special focus on border areas and areas far from large urban
centres. Passport officers will be on site to answer questions from the public
about applying for a passport, review passport applications to ensure they are
complete and will accept completed passport applications for processing. This
initiative will accelerate the passport application process, minimize delays
due to incomplete applications and increase the accessibility to passport
services.

    Measures To Date
    ----------------

    These new measures are part of a broader effort by Canada's New Government
to modernize Canadian passport services and increase its capacity to better
meet demand. Measures include:

    - Launching a staffing campaign to fill hundreds of new full-time
      positions;
    - Extending office hours where warranted, such as Montreal, Pointe
      Claire, Whitby, Brampton and Vancouver;
    - Opening of 65 additional Receiving Agents in border and rural
      communities at participating Canada Post and Service Canada centres;
    - Moving some operations to larger facilities to accommodate new
      personnel and increase its capacity;
    - Expanding existing office space where facilities permit;
    - Adding an evening production shift in certain locations, to accelerate
      the processing of applications; and
    - Modernizing technology and streamlining processes.

    The Western Hemispheric Travel Initiative (WHTI)

    The WHTI is a new United States law that will require all travellers,
including Canadians, to carry a valid passport or other appropriate secure
document when travelling to the United States from within the western
hemisphere. The WHTI was implemented for air travel on January 23, 2007.
    Passport Canada reminds Canadians that currently they do not need to carry
a valid passport when traveling to and from the United States by land or sea
as the United States has yet to release the date for implementation for land
and sea travel. However, prospective travellers are advised to be prepared for
the impending new requirements.
    The following documents are acceptable for entry into the United States
from within the western hemisphere by air:

    - A valid passport; or
    - A NEXUS card when used at a NEXUS kiosk at designated airports.
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Enquiries: (819) 934-3837; Public
Enquiries: 1-800-567-6868


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890