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Canada has resumed in-person passport appointments for those travelling with 30 days in the latest easing of restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Non-urgent passports can also be applied for by mail, according to an announcement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on Friday.
However, IRCC urged that Canadians without travel plans wait before applying. Officials expect processing times to be longer than normal due to high demand and COVID-19-related health and safety measures.
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“Resuming Canadian passport services by mail and expanding in-person appointments for those who need a passport in less than 30 days is a significant first step toward resuming regular passport services in Canada while prioritizing the health and safety of Canadians and our employees,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
“Travel advisories and restrictions remain in effect around the world, but we recognize that many Canadians need a passport for essential travel or to plan for the future and we are making every effort to help them access these services.”
IRCC reminded those with concerns about renewing passports that the simplified renewal process can be used within two years of the expiry date, instead of the previous one year. The simplified process is available for those with passports that expired on or after February 1, 2019.
Under the simplified process, applicants fill out a shorter form and do not need to submit citizenship documents and a guarantor declaration.
Passport services are limited to appointment only as Service Canada centres reopen.
Canada Travel Restrictions to be Extended
Meanwhile, Canada is set to extend travel restrictions on most foreign travellers for another month, to the end of August.
The federal government issued an Order in Council dated July 30, extending the travel restrictions to August 31.
The restrictions, barring entry to all except citizens and permanent residents – with some exemptions – was due to expire at the end of July.
The restrictions cover travellers arriving from a foreign country other than the United States. The travel ban affecting the Canada-U.S. border is covered by a separate agreement, that currently expires on August 21. However, with coronavirus cases spiking south of the border, it is likely to be extended.
The following people can currently travel to Canada:
- Citizens and permanent residents.
- Work permit holders travelling for non-optional and non-discretionary reasons.
- International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, on March 18, 2020, who are travelling for non-optional and non-discretionary reasons.
- Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
- Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents