My Brand New Passport
My Brand New Passport

Two weeks ago, I completed what I hope is my last paperwork chore for a while. But it was worth it—I’ve just picked my very first Canadian passport!

Since I’m now a Canadian citizen, I’m entitled to a Canadian passport. I couldn’t wait! First, as a traveller, I obviously value passports. Apparently, it is estimated that 187 countries and territories grant visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to Canadian passport holders. In addition to my French passport, that’s a lot of visa-free travels! Canadian passports are also very useful to go to the US since I won’t need to go through the visa-waiver restrictions anymore: paying $7, having my fingerprints and my picture taken and applying for an Electronic Travel Authorization before travelling to or through the US was not a pleasant experience. To me, a Canadian passport is also the symbol of my new citizenship, and I’m proud to be Canadian.

Applying for a Canadian passport is not that easy, though.

First, you need to download the forms–for me, it was the “Adult, 16 years old and older, living in Canada.” You can also pick applications up at any Canada Post outlet or Service Canada centre.

The first section of the three-page application is easy to fill up with basic personal information, such as name, date of birth, etc.

For the second section, you will need a guarantor to vouch for you. The guarantor must hold a valid Canadian passport; have known the applicant for at least two years; be a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older; be accessible to Passport Canada for verification and live in Canada or in the US Feng was my obvious choice!

I had never had a Canadian passport, so section 3 didn’t apply to me. As for section 4, the proof of Canadian section, my case was straightforward: I became Canadian through naturalization. My proof of citizenship had been given to me on the day of the ceremony: my citizenship card. Documents to prove identity, easy as well: Health Card and Driver’s Licence (thanks God I have one even though I don’t really drive!).

The last section, the additional personal information one, was a bit trickier.

First, I had to state where I was employed and for how long. Then, I had to find two references, who are not relatives, have known me for at least two years and speak either French or English. I do know a lot of people, but I was pretty shy about asking them to vouch for me. In the end, I asked my closest friend in Ottawa and my language school’s administrative assistant. She wasn’t surprised at all and she told me she had just provided a reference for my boss’s passport. I guess all Canadians know the process and have to go through it!

Last and final step, I had two passport pictures taken, the ugly ones that look like mug shots because we are not allowed to smile.

All in all, the application is not difficult too complete. Definitely less difficult than applying for permanent residence, but—surprisingly—more difficult than applying for citizenship!

In France, there is no system of references or guarantor. Very few information is asked as far as I remember (I applied for my last passport in 2003!), certainly not where you work, etc. So I was a little bit surprised to see all the information needed to get a Canadian passport. But apparently, foreign spies tend to use Canadian passports (a relatively neutral country whose citizens travel a lot) so there is a somewhat extensive on applicant’s background now.

I decided to apply in person at the downtown Passport Canada office, so that I wouldn’t have to send my citizenship card and other ID documents. Apparently, everybody had the same idea: the place was just packed. As of June 1, 2009, Canadians officially need a passport to enter the USA via land or water (they only needed birth certificate or driver’s licence before), so a lot of people are applying right now.

After an hour wait, I brought my application to the agent. She checked everything, had a look at my IDs and that was it! Passports are not cheap: $87. I asked if I could pick my own passport up (otherwise they are sent my mail, and it’s quite erratic in the summer), which cost another $10. I’m not sure why it’s more expensive to pick a passport up in person rather than have it sent but never mind. Processing time: only two weeks.

And so, today, exactly two weeks later, I rushed at noon to get my brand new passport. It’s beautiful. Navy blue, with a bunch a cool security features my old French passport doesn’t have. I just have to fill it up with entry and exit stamps now.

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30 Comments

  1. Bluefish July 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    It’ll be easier for you to renew your passport in the future…I think it takes less time. I recently renew my passport and I find it easy to ask for 2 references and fill up the information. I guess I’m used to it by now. Good thing I no longer need to ask a physician or someone who knows me over 2 years to sign the back of passport photos. It was such a hassle to bother my former family doctor about signing my pictures.

    So where will be your first trip with your Canadian passport? 🙂

    Reply
  2. the writer July 23, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Congrats with the new passport. Is it allowed to have double citizenship both in France and Canada or did you let go of your French passport?

    Reply
  3. barbara July 23, 2009 at 1:50 am

    Yes ! Congrats to you 🙂
    This is exciting and I’m more than sure that you are itching to inauguarate it soon !

    Bises xxxx

    Reply
  4. Tulsa Gentleman July 23, 2009 at 1:58 am

    For you a passport is first priority. You will be busy filling it up with stamps. Congratulations. This is the completion of a lengthy process.

    Reply
  5. rowena July 23, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Good for you! I’ve often been asked whether I will get an italian passport, but it seems to me that an american one is already enough, being that I have the right to stay here due to my marriage with an italian national. If it should ever happen that we parted ways I would simply move back to the states. For me it has, and will always be, my true home.

    Reply
  6. Agnes July 23, 2009 at 8:33 am

    $87 is not bad at all! And it only took 2 weeks, great. Congrats, Zhu 🙂

    Reply
  7. Linguist-in-Waiting July 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Yay! Woohoo! So, when and where is your next vacation? (Sorry, I am just vicariously excited for you.)

    Reply
  8. Jonathan July 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Ahhh…makes me remember when I got my American passport last summer. I was doing so quite hurriedly because of an oncoming trip to Taipei. When I got it I was so excited! The only thing cooler than fondling all the pages is covering said pages in big stamps that say “CANADA”, “JAPAN”, “TAIWAN”, “DEUTSCHLAND”…
    Anyway – DIGITAL HIGH FIVE!

    Reply
  9. DianeCA July 24, 2009 at 7:09 am

    The system is every bit as complicated in Norway. It’s quite a headache sometimes but then again I think its important that they don’t just give them away. A passport is normally ultimate proof of your identity and could be misused by people with dishonest intentions.

    Reply
  10. RennyBA July 24, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Brand new and well deserved!

    Reply
  11. bumanguesa July 24, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Colombian passports are really easy to get. Well… we’re not very famous for safety, right? And in my passport I don’t even look like me. It’s someone ugly that could be related to me from my mother’s side. I don’t know what happened. And how about Colombia? Are you planning to finally visit the country? remember my offer: I can guide you if you teach me mandarin!!!

    Reply
  12. Adam July 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Firstly, Congratulations! Definitely a right-of-passage for those of us who leave our homeland to live and, hopefully, become citizens of another country. You didn’t mention if you kept your citizenship in France…or did I miss that blog post? Does France have dual citizenship?

    AND, not to be picky, but does anyone else but me think that the Canadian Passport should be RED instead of Blue? I can’t help but be a bit disappointed in the colour, but then again, my U.S. Passport is also blue. Probably why I am looking for definitive differences. Ha!

    Reply
  13. Zhu July 24, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    @Bluefish – Not sure where it will be, but I can’t wait! I heard renewal was much easier… and I’m glad the application process was simplified.

    @the writer – Thank you! Yes, I have dual citizenship and I still have my French passport.

    @barbara – You have no idea! 😆

    @Tulsa Gentleman – Thank you! It is very psychological… sense of belonging I guess.

    @rowena – I can understand that! The dual citizenship law for US citizens seems to be a bit complicated. That said, I know a lot of Americans who have two passports…

    @Agnes – I guess it’s not that bad. How much is it for a US passport? Not a black market one, a real application 😆

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – Well, nothing planned for now… yet, it feels good to have a passport!

    @Jonathan – Oh, I can understand that! I must admit I sometimes take a look at my French passport, safely stored with the rest of my paperworks, just to see the stamps. 🙂

    @DianeCA – You are right, I’m actually glad the process is taken seriously. I just wasn’t used to that!

    @Sunil S Ranka – Thank you 🙂

    @RennyBA – Thank you!

    @bumanguesa – I would love to visit Colombia! Yes, there is a safety issue but I believe it’s only in some areas (Darien, anyone? :lol:). French passports are easy to get too…

    @Adam – Passport colors are actually harmonized, depending on where you live in the world. For example, all UE passports, no matter the country, are burgundy. North American ones are navy blue. I noticed Central America ones are all the same color too, just can’t remember which one…

    And yes, I kept my French passport. So I have burgundy and blue 🙂

    Reply
  14. Aiglee July 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Congratulations Zhu!! I got so excited readin this post! Looking forward to follow your instructions in a couple of years 😀

    Reply
  15. aline July 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Congratulations! My Mauritian passport is blue too. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Zhu July 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    @Aiglee – Thank you! You will see, it comes really fast.

    @aline – Blue is beautiful 🙂

    Reply
  17. Max Coutinho August 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Hey Zhu!!!

    I am back, girl! 😀

    I heard you were sick: are you feeling better today? I hope it is nothing serious :).

    Congratulations for your Canadian passport!!!! 😀
    I can tell that you are happy happy ;).

    Here’s to a new stage in your life, Miss Canadian *hug*!

    Cheers

    Reply
  18. Celine August 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Congratulations Zhu and I hope you get to travel a lot with this new passport.:)

    Reply
  19. stella August 6, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Thats a great news friend.happy for you.now you get to travel a lot I hope.congrats.
    take care

    Reply
  20. Zhu August 6, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    @Spyder – Thank you!

    @Max Coutinho – Nah, just a cold. Hope you had great holidays! Yes getting a Canadian passport was of great meaning to me. I’m so proud!

    @Celine – Thank you! I certainly hope so… wish I could travel as much as you!

    @stella – Thank you!

    Reply
  21. Manmeet August 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    hey zhu. have’nt really gone through the whole site yet..but i go through it enough to see that you have alot of helpful information. want to tell you thank you for that. just wanted to tell you a little about me first so maybe you can guide me better while i search through your blog. Hi.I am interested in immigrating to canada.could you tell me what is the best way to do that?I could either go for furthur studies(masters) or maybe a job(if i get the oppertunity).But rt now, Im just trying to figure out the BEST way.What is the first step? would appreciate it if you could help me out with that.
    looking forward to your response.
    -Manmeet-
    Thanks.

    Reply
  22. London Paris Train July 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    There are certain things you should not make public Zhu like your passport. it is just my thought

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      There is nothing personal in the picture I posted, it’s just the passport cover and these are available on Wikipedia as well. But good advice anyway!

      Reply
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