Passport - Part 1

Role of the Passport Program

Role of the Passport Program

Passport CanadaThe Passport Program is responsible for issuing, refusing to issue, revoking, withholding and recovering Canadian passports.

A program of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

A passport is an official travel document issued by the government. A passport establishes the holder’s identity and citizenship and entitles the holder to travel under its protection to and from foreign countries.

The Passport Program is responsible for all matters related to Canadian passports. As mandated by the Canadian Passport Order, its responsibilities include issuing, refusing to issue, revoking, withholding, recovering and providing instructions on the use of Canadian passports.

The Passport Program has 34 passport-issuing offices across the country, as well as a network of approximately 190 Service Canada and Canada Post receiving agents, to offer Canadians wide access to passport services. The Passport Program also works in partnership with Government of Canada offices abroad to provide travel document services to Canadians who travel or live outside of Canada.

As a cost-recovery program, The Passport Program operations are financed entirely from the fees charged for passports and other travel documents. There is no annual parliamentary appropriation; the The Passport Program is funded by applicants, not taxpayers.

Besides serving the public directly, The Passport Program also works with national and international police authorities, security agents, border officials and federal, provincial and territorial authorities that provide identification documents.

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Receiving agents

Receiving agents

Applicants who plan to travel within the next 20 business days should submit their application in person at a Passport Program office.

Many Service Canada Centres and Canada Post outlets are passport receiving agents, giving Canadians broader access to passport services across the country. Receiving agents can accept standard passport applications, review applications to make sure they are complete, collect fee payments and supporting documents (proof of citizenship, identity document and photos) and send applications to the Passport Program for processing. Once the Passport Program has approved and issued a passport, it is delivered to the mailing address specified in the application.

Final decisions on passport entitlement rest with the Passport Program.

A list of service locations can be found on the Passport Program website.

To pass through a port

One of the earliest mentions of a passport dates back to about 450 BC. The origin of the word "passport" is the French passe port, literally meaning "to pass through a port."


The Passport Program is responsible for issuing, refusing, revoking and withholding Canadian passports, in addition to administering their use and recovery.

Keeping your passport safe

Keeping your passport safe

keep passports safe.Your clients should recognize the importance of keeping their passport in a safe place.

A Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel and identification document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel. To avoid problems, it is recommended that all Canadians carry a Canadian passport when travelling abroad.

A passport is a valuable document that should be kept in a safe place at all times. Your clients should carry their passport in an inside coat pocket or money belt while abroad. Another option is to lock it in a hotel safe and carry a photocopy of the passport identification page.

Types of Canadian passports

Types of Canadian passports

About 50 percent of Canadians are passport holders.Sixty-four percent of Canadians are passport holders.

The Passport Program issues about 5 million travel documents each year, most of which are regular passports. There are 4 types of passports:

Regular passport

Canadians are most familiar with the regular (blue) 36-page passport, which is issued to Canadian citizens and used for general travel such as vacations and business trips. It accounts for the vast majority of all travel documents issued by the Passport Program.

Diplomatic passport

The Passport Program issues diplomatic passports to Canadian diplomats, top-ranking government officials, diplomatic couriers and private citizens nominated as official delegates to international diplomatic conferences.

Special passport

The Passport Program issues special passports to people representing the Canadian government on official business, including Members of Parliament, provincial Members of Cabinet, public servants and private citizens nominated to non-diplomatic conferences.

Temporary passport

On behalf of the Passport Program, Canadian government offices abroad may issue a temporary passport to a Canadian citizen with an urgent, proven need for a passport, while waiting to receive a regular, special, or diplomatic passport.

The Passport Program also issues 3 types of Canadian travel documents to refugees and stateless persons living in Canada, or to Canadians abroad in urgent cases:

  • Refugee travel document (issued to protected persons, based on the 1951 UN Convention)
  • Certificate of identity (may be issued to individuals who are stateless or unable to obtain a travel document from their country of citizenship)
  • Emergency travel document (may be issued to Canadians stranded in foreign countries by Canadian government offices abroad on behalf of the Passport Program).

The Passport Program offers Canadians over the age of 16 the choice of a passport with a 5-year or 10-year validity period. Passports for children under 16 have a 5-year validity period.

About the Canadian Passport

In 2015, 67% of Canadians had passports, and 22.88 million Canadian travel documents were in circulation.

The first booklet-type Canadian passport was issued in 1921, and the first bilingual Canadian passport made its appearance in 1926. Prior to that, passports were issued in English only.

Until 1947, 2 kinds of passports were issued in Canada, 1 for British-born citizens, and 1 for naturalized citizens. Since 1947, the Canadian Citizenship Act has stipulated that only Canadian citizens are entitled to a Canadian passport.

Next section: Passport - Part 2
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