For Windsorites looking to travel, getting a passport can be a journey

·2 min read
The line outside the Windsor passport office is seen on May 31, 2022. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
The line outside the Windsor passport office is seen on May 31, 2022. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

If you need a passport in a hurry, get in line.

Across the country, Service Canada is experiencing what it calls an "unprecedented" surge in applications now that COVID-19 restrictions on travel have largely been lifted.

Those delays are being felt at the passport office here in Windsor.

Erik Kovosi was among those in the queue on Tuesday. He's going to the Bahamas to stand in a friend's wedding, and ultimately waited four hours.

"A lot of people would probably complain and stuff but I don't think it's that bad. It's backed up. It's going to be backed up the way it was, but as long as you make a day out of it, you stay positive, you'll be good," he said.

Reese Roberts was waiting to see if she could get her passport in time to go to a festival in Michigan this weekend.

"It's way too long. We've been here an hour and a half and they told us that they might be able to see us," she said.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

The lineups and delays are an issue across the country, with Service Canada estimating it received about half a million passport applications in March and April of this year.

The agency said in a statement earlier this month it has hired 600 new employees just to process passport applications and opened up more dedicated passport counters at 300 Service Canada offices.

Getting or renewing your passport 

Given the current backlog, only those with travel booked within 25 days are permitted to apply in person at a specialized Service Canada passport office, like the one on Ouellette Avenue in downtown Windsor.

According to the federal government, despite the delays, 98 per cent of Canadians who apply through that route receive their passports in fewer than 10 business days.

For those applying by mail, the federal government's website says that the delay is nine weeks plus mail time.

The government offers an online reservation system to get an appointment.

But one person in line on Tuesday, Matthew Billings, said the site isn't working for him and he can't reach anyone by phone either.

Billings was showing up at the office for a second time trying to get his passport for an upcoming trip to Disney World with his family.

"I feel like there should be a better system," he said.

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