My passport was set to expire on October 25th, 2007. Scheduled to to leave for AdTech New York on November 5th, and too familiar with the horror stories about Canadian passports taking many months to process, I was desperate to make sure that I had mine renewed in plenty of time.
I called the passport office and after explaining that I live in the Okanagan (where there is no passport office) and that I would travel to Vancouver to submit my application for passport renewal, I was assured in no uncertain terms that I would be able to get a passport from one of the Vancouver offices within 24 to 48 hours. I was also told that I would have to pick the passport up, as the office would definitely NOT mail a passport out.
So, I went ahead and booked 2 nights hotel accomodations and drove to Vancouver with Ed on September 11th.
Arriving at the building in which the Surrey passport office is located, we were instructed to line up outside. While standing in line, we heard a myriad of horror stories – most of them to do with confusing and incorrect information received from various passport office representatives – which led to extra trips and long delays.
As we neared the front of the line, the commissionaire asked who needed to have their passport in hand before December. I and about 10 other folks raised our hands. The commissionaire then let about 15 people (who had NOT indicated a desire for quick processing) into the building ahead of us.
After waiting another 20 minutes we were instructed to go to the 9th floor passport office where at least 150 people were already waiting. I lined up to speak to the first clerk, explained my situation and was told that there was no way they would process the application in 2 days, but that passports were being processed and sent from that office within two to three weeks. She gave me a number (E845) and told me to wait until it was called.
Aaargh! Now, I was concerned.
I was also puzzled. The ‘order processing’ system was very stange – typical Canadian government (which I can say based on experience having worked for them for almost 20 years). The woman who was in front of me in line had been given the number A134 and according to the electronic signs (see inset on picture right), A110 and E840 were being served as we sat down. Hmmm… did that mean I would only have to wait for 5 people to be processed, whereas she would have to wait through 24? Weird.
Moreover, there were several signs indicating that if you weren’t in the room when your number was called, that you would be bypassed and you’d have to get a new number. That could have been problematic for the moms who were there with young kids as the room was stifling hot and there was neither a drink machine nor washrooms on the 9th floor – they were in the basement.
Surprising, the wait wasn’t TOO long, only about an hour and 45 minutes…
More surprising, my new passport arrived by mail at the house in exactly 13 days.
Anyway, if you’re applying for a Canadian passport and have questions about the application or processing, I’d recommend calling the Passport Office at least 3 times. If you get the same answer twice, it might be right.
[tags]Canadian passport, passport, Canada[/tags]