A passport is an identity document that allows people to move from one country to another. About 67 percent of Canadians own a passport but some of these are not valid. Passports come with an expiry date and cannot be used once they have expired. Also, keep in mind that some countries require the passport to be valid for at least six to eight months to allow entry.

This is why it is important that you renew your passport. You will not be able to travel internationally without a valid passport. The process is straightforward and can take a few days. Here’s all you need to know about renewing your passport in Canada.

Who can renew a passport?

Anybody with an expired Canadian passport can apply for renewal if they had an adult passport. In fact, you do not have to wait for your passport to expire in order to renew your passport in Canada. You can choose to apply for a new passport up to a year before your existing passport expires. But, remember that you will not be able to transfer the unused validity period of your existing passport to your new passport.

Presently, only adult passports can be renewed. This means that you can renew your passport only if you were at least 16 when you applied for the expired passport. Children under 16 cannot presently choose to renew their existing passports. They will have to apply for a new passport.

Also, the expired passport must have been issued within the last 15 years for you to qualify for a renewal. You will have to apply for a new passport if more than 15 years have passed since you applied for your last passport. Moreover, it is important that information such as your place of birth, date of birth, and name have not changed since. 

You will have to apply for a new passport if you’d like to change personal in your new passport. The same goes for applicants who wish to change their gender on their new passport. You will, however, have to fill and submit a gender identifier request form with the application if your supporting documents do not show the identifier that you want. Conversely, this form can be excluded if your expired or existing passport has an ‘X' observation sticker.

How to renew a passport in Canada: a step-by-step guide

passport applicaiton

1. Fill in the application form

The first step is to fill out and download the online application form from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The form is free to download. The website will give you the option to keep existing visas, make sure to check the relevant box to ensure you don’t lose valid visas when you apply for passport renewal in Canada.

The form is straightforward and easy to fill. You can do it online and choose to save progress, reset application, or print form. Remember that this form is only for eligible Canadians applying in Canada or the USA. Alternatively, you can go to your nearest Canada Post location and pick a copy of a free application form. 

Be careful when filing the form. You cannot white out words but it is okay to cross out the error and add the right information below or above it. Moreover, you will have to put your initials on it.

2 Get your passport photo

passport photo

You need to submit two photos with your application. They must be unaltered and identical. No filters or photoshop is allowed. In addition, the photos must meet the following requirements:

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  • Must be 50mm wide by 70mm high.
  • Your face must be the focal point with the height of your face measuring between 31mm and 36mm from your chin to the top of your head.
  • Be black and white or in colour but high quality. We suggest that you stick to colour photos.
  • Photos must be in focus, clear, and sharp.
  • You are not allowed to wear accessories that cover your facial features. Examples include large sunglasses. Head coverings and hats worn for religious or medical reasons are permitted but they must not hide your face.
  • There should be no flash reflections, glare, or shadows.
  • You can wear makeup but the picture must show your true skin tone.
  • You must keep a neutral expression and your eyes must be open and clearly visible. No smiling or frowning is allowed.
  • Your face and shoulders should not be tilted. you must be looking straight into the camera.
  • The background must be plain white or light coloured.

Photos clicked or printed at home may be declined. You should work with a professional studio or photographer and ensure photos are printed on a high-quality, plain photographic paper. Photos on heavy paper get rejected. 

One of your photos must be stamped and dated by the photographer. They should contain the studio's full address and name on the back. You are not required to sign photos, however, you will need a guarantor, if required, to sign one of the photos and write “I certify this to be a true likeness of (name).”

3. Find references

You can skip this step if you are looking to renew your adult passport in Canada. Guarantors are needed only when applying for a new passport.

4. Calculate the fee

The next step is to pay your passport renewal Canada fee. Here’s a fee breakdown:

  • 5-year adult passport costs $120
  • 10-year adult passport costs $160
  • Child passport costs $57

This is the basic fee structure for applications submitted in Canada. There may be additional charges if you need to replace a stolen or lost passport. Furthermore, you can expedite the process if you are in a hurry. Here’s the breakup:

  • Urgent pickup within 1 business day costs $110
  • Express pickup within 2 to 9 business days is $50
  • Stands pick up within 10 business days is $20

The expedited services option is only available for applications that are submitted in person. You can choose to avoid this fee by not buying expedited services. Still, there may be some additional service charges:

  • Additional fee for replacing a stolen or lost passport is $45
  • Certified true copy is $45
  • File transfer to a different office is $45

A certified true copy may be needed in cases where the embassy expressly asks you to submit one. Also, file transfer charges are paid only when you wish to transfer your documents to another passport office. 

5. Pay and submit your application

You cannot currently pay these charges online. You can, however, visit the nearest office to pay in person. Available locations include any participating Canada Post outlet, Service Centre Canada, and Passport Program office

You can pay with a debit card, credit card, prepaid card, money order, and certified cheque. Only Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards are accepted. You can pay using personal cheques or cash. The cheque must be payable to the “Receiver General for Canada” and be with the exact amount.

Alternatively, you can use the mail service. Fill out the payment section on your form and provide payment details or attach cheques. You can now send the application by mail to the relevant address:

passport applying by mail

The form contains a checklist. You will have to submit all the required documents including both pages of the form fully filled and signed. They must not be older than 12 months. In addition, you will need two passport photos. They must not be older than six months. Fees and your still-valid passport, if appplicable, must also be enclosed with the application.

6. Collect your passport

The last step is to collect your passport. You can choose to receive it via mail or pick it from your nearest passport office. Make sure to check the document to ensure there are no errors. Moreover, sign your name in the signature line on page 3 and write your address on page 4. Unsigned passports cannot be used for international travel.

Renewing your Canadian passport from abroad

You can choose to renew your Canadian passport from abroad without having to visit Canada. The process differs based on where you are but in most cases you will have to fill and submit an application form and add supporting documents including your photos. Applications are usually sent to the Canadian embassy in your country. Some countries offer dropbox services and some require a personal appearance. Processing can take between 8 and 12 weeks depending on your country. 

Fees are typically paid in CAD or USD and no embassies presently accept cash. The fee structure depends on your country and there may be additional charges for add-ons such as expedited services and verifications. Check with the embassy for more details.

Frequently asked questions

Still have questions about passport renewal in Canada? Here are some of the most commonly asked queries:

Do you need a passport to fly within Canada?

You do not need a passport to fly within Canada. A passport is needed when crossing international borders. It’s checked by the immigration officer who will stamp it when you enter or leave the country. However, passengers above 17 will need a valid Canadian government-issued identity document to travel within Canada, especially if they are taking a flight. 
The document must include your photograph, date of birth, and full name. Examples include your passport and driver’s licence. Alternatively, you can submit two valid and government-issued documents showing your name and date of birth if you do not have a valid document that contains your photograph. Information in your document must match the information on your boarding pass.

How do you get a Canadian passport?

You can get a Canadian passport by submitting an application with the required documents and fees. Only eligible candidates will be given citizenship. Almost everyone born in the country has a right to Canadian citizenship or passport. 
Foreign nationals can choose to apply for a passport if they have lived in the country for at least three years as a permanent resident. They must, however, meet additional requirements including proficiency in the French or English language.
You will need to submit multiple documents if you are applying for a passport for the first time. These are used to verify citizenship. Such documents are typically not required when renewing passports.

How long does it take to get a passport in Canada?

The processing time starts once your submitted application gets approved. Applications may get rejected if they are incorrect or incomplete. The entire process can take up to 26 business days. Shipping can add 2 to 3 additional days.
You can speed things up by choosing expedited services. They come at a cost but can help you get your hands on your renewed passport in less than two days. This option, however, is only for applicants who apply in person. You can use this one if you are in a hurry to leave the country. 

How much is a Canadian passport?

You cannot purchase a Canadian passport. Your only option is to apply for one if you qualify. Here’s the fee breakdown:
$120 for a 5-year adult passport (16 years and older) when applying from Canada
$190 for a 5-year adult passport (16 years and older) when applying from the USA
$160 for a 10-year adult passport (16 years and older) when applying from Canada
$260 for a 10-year adult passport (16 years and older) when applying from the USA
$5 for a 5-year child passport (15 years and younger) when applying from Canada
$100 for a 5-year child passport (15 years and younger) when applying from the USA

Where can I take a passport photo?

Photos must be taken by a photo studio or commercial photographer. Photos taken at home are not approved. 

Who can be a guarantor for a Canadian passport?

You will need two references for passport renewal in Canada. These guarantors must be adults (18 or older) and have known you for two or more years. Moreover, they must hold Canadian nationality with a valid passport or a passport that can still be used as an ID (not expired for more than 12 months). Furthermore, you will need their consent to be able to use their details for your application. 
The department will contact your guarantors so make sure they are available to respond to calls or emails. Also, we must mention that you only need a guarantor when you are applying for a fresh passport. A guarantor is not needed when renewing passports in Canada unless you are no more eligible for a passport.
A guarantor can be anyone, including a family member. But, the parent or legal guardian applying on behalf of a child cannot be a guarantor on the child’s passport application. 

What should I do with my expired Canadian passport?

Don't make the mistake of throwing away your old passport just because it has expired or you have a new one. Your passport can still be used as an ID if it hasn't expired for more than 12 months. Plus, you will need it to renew your passport in Canada. You can get rid of your old passport if it’s older than 10 years. 

How many passports can you have?

Technically speaking, you will only use a single passport at a time. However, as a Canadian national, you can choose to keep dual nationalities. Canada allows its nationals to take foreign citizenship. This means you may keep up to two passports (one from Canada and one from another country) given that the other country also permits dual citizenship.Moreover, Canadians can even get more passports as the law allows multiple passports but two will be enough in most cases. You will be able to keep a second or third passport only if the other country also permits multiple citizenships. Some countries do not allow it, which means you may have to give up your Canadian citizenship to be able to own multiple passports.It doesn’t matter how many passports you own, you will use a single passport when crossing borders. As for Canadian nationals with a single nationality, they can own a single passport as expired passports are not considered valid. 

Can you use an expired passport as an ID in Canada?

You can use an expired passport as an ID in Canada if it has expired recently. Your passport can be used for a period of 12 months from expiry. This means a passport that expired on March, 01, 2022 can be used as an ID until February, 28, 2022.

How long does a passport last?

Passports last for 5 or 10 years depending on your age. However, you might have to renew your passport before expiry if you run out of empty pages. A passport must have blank pages for it to be considered valid. These pages are used for entry and exit stamps. Each visa requires at least one blank page. A page is considered blank when it is clean and contains no stains or ink.

How many countries does the Canadian passport allow you to visit without a visa?

Canada has one of the strongest passports. It ranks 7th on the global scale and gives Canadian citizens the right to visit 185 countries and territories without a visa or by getting a visa on arrival. Some of the major destinations include the US, the UK, the Schengen Zone, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Some countries that require Canadians to get a pre-approved visa include China, India, and Russia. These requirements keep changing from time to time. It is best to get in touch with the embassy for the latest updates. 

How to change address in passport?

Canada allows citizens to change their address without having to apply for a new passport. You can do this by crossing out the old address on page 4 and writing your new address above it. You can use a separate piece of paper for this purpose if your current passport doesn’t have enough space to write your new address.
Make sure to avoid using correction fluid to cross out your old address. Your passport will continue to remain valid, however, remember that you cannot change other details such as your country and name with this method.

Can a Canadian cross the border without a passport?

Canadians coming back to the country might be able to use an expired passport or other identity documents such as a NEXUS pass to enter the country. However, in most cases, you will not be allowed to fly from your departing country till you have a valid passport. But, there are some exceptions.
Canadians can visit the US or return to Canada without a passport provided they have other identity documents. You will need your NEXUS card if you’re coming by air. A FAST card, Enhanced Identification Card, and SENTRI enrolment cards can be accepted if using a land or sea border. Canadians 15 or younger can use an original citizenship card or birth certificate to cross the border. 
Documents used to cross the border must be valid. Plus, you must be able to produce an original copy. We must mention that the final approval is in the hands of the immigration officer who may not allow you to cross the border without a passport.