Canadian passport

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Canadian passport
Canadian ePassport Cover (2013).JPG
The front cover of a Canadian e-passport.
Date first issued 1 July 2013 (biometric passport)
Issued by Canada
Type of document Passport
Purpose Identification
Eligibility requirements Canadian citizenship
Expiration 5 or 10 year validity for adults (age 16 years and older), and 5 years for children.[1]
Cost C$160 (10 yr)
C$120 (5 yr)
C$57 (child)[2]

The Canadian passport is the passport available to citizens of Canada. It enables the bearer to exit and re-enter Canada; travel to and from other countries in accordance with visa requirements; facilitates the process of securing assistance from Canadian consular officials abroad, if necessary; and requests protection for the bearer while abroad.[3][4]

All Canadian passports are issued by Passport Canada, an independent government agency under the purview of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. They are normally valid for five or ten years, except those of children under age three which are valid for three years. As of July 2009, 56.2% of Canadians held a valid Canadian passport.[5] Although held by individuals, all Canadian passports remain property of the Queen of Canada (the Government of Canada), as stated on the inside front cover of the booklet.[6]

Passport Canada has issued electronic passports, or e-passports to Canadian citizens starting from 1 July 2013.


The first Canadian passports were issued in 1862, following the outbreak of the American Civil War, when the United States demanded more secure identification from Canadians wishing to cross the border. They took the form of a Letter of Request from the governor general. These documents remained in use until, in 1915, Canadian passports were first issued in the British format, a ten section single sheet folder.[7]

The modern form of the Canadian passport came about in 1921. At that time, Canadians were British subjects, and Canada shared a common nationality code with the United Kingdom; thus, Canadian passports were issued to those British subjects resident in or connected to Canada. This arrangement ended in 1947, when the Canadian Citizenship Act was granted Royal Assent and the designation of Canadian citizenship was created. As of July the following year, Canadian passports were issued to Canadian citizens only,[8] and by 1985 the first machine-readable passports were distributed, in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

In the 2008 federal budget, Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, announced that biometric passports ("e-passports") would be introduced by 2011.[9] A pilot project began in 2009, with e-passports being issued to special and diplomatic passport applicants.[10] The e-passport roll-out was pushed back to 1 July 2013.

Rights to a passport[edit]

The issuance of passports falls under the Royal Prerogative.[6] They are issued, in the name of the reigning Canadian monarch (as expressed in the passport note), according to the Canadian Passport Order. This Order in Council specifies grounds for which Passport Canada, a Special Operating Agency under Citizenship and Immigration Canada, can issue or renew a passport. Applicants must complete the required forms, which include the necessity of two passport photos and affirmation from a guarantor. Rules regarding renewals of passports and the eligibility of guarantors were last updated 1 October 2007, whereafter applicants may renew the passport using a shorter application form if: they are resident in Canada when they apply; lived in Canada and were at least 16 years of age at the time of their previous application; and are in possession of a Canadian passport that was issued under their current name after 31 January 2002, is valid for five years, and not damaged or reported lost or stolen. Further, a guarantor may be a Canadian who currently holds a valid, or no more than one year expired, five-year Canadian passport; has known the applicant for more than two years; is 18 or more years old; and were 16 years of age or older when they applied for their own passport. For citizens abroad, passport applications are forwarded back to a passport centre by the local embassies, high commissions or consulates.

Passport Canada may revoke a passport or refuse to issue or renew a passport on grounds set out in the Canadian Passport Order, including such grounds as failure to submit a complete application, misrepresentation in obtaining a passport, and criminality. However, whether a Canadian passport may be revoked or refused on the basis of national security concerns has been questioned. In July 2004, Abdurahman Khadr was denied a Canadian passport by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson on the explicit advice of her Foreign Affairs Minister, Bill Graham, who stated the decision was "in the interest of the national security of Canada and the protection of Canadian troops in Afghanistan." The government invoked Royal Prerogative in order to deny Khadr's passport, as national security was not at that time listed in the Canadian Passport Order as a ground for refusal. Shortly thereafter, on 22 September 2004, section 10.1 was added to the order, which allowed the minister to revoke or refuse a passport due to national security concerns.[11] Khadr sought judicial review of the minister's decision to refuse his passport and,[12] on 8 June of the following year, the Federal Court ruled that the government did not have the power to refuse to issue Khadr's passport in the absence of specific authority set out in the Canadian Passport Order, but stated in obiter dicta that if the order were to be amended, Khadr would likely not be able to challenge the revocation.[13]

In 2006, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then Peter MacKay, again denied Khadr's application, this time invoking section 10.1 of the amended Canadian Passport Order.[14] Section 10.1 was later challenged in Federal Court by Fateh Kamel, whose passport had also been refused for national security reasons. On 13 March 2008, the Federal Court declared section 10.1 of the Canadian Passport Order to be unconstitutional and therefore invalid,[15][16] though the court suspended its declaration of invalidity for six months in order to allow the government time to amend the order. The federal government launched an appeal at the Federal Court of Appeal and a ruling handed down on 29 January 2009 overturned the lower court decision. The court unanimously agreed the denial of passport service on national grounds is in compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, citing the limitation clause (Section 1) as its main decision point.[17][18] Kamel launched an appeal in 2009 to the Supreme Court of Canada but the court declined to hear his case and thus ended the legality challenge to the Canadian Passport Order.[19]

In 2010, Kamel attempted to re-apply for a Canadian passport but was once again refused by the minister on grounds of national security. He sought judicial review but was dismissed by the Federal Court and subsequently by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2013.[20] Kamel did not appeal the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Types of passports[edit]

Before 1947, there were two types of passports: those issued to people who were born British subjects and those issued to people naturalized as British subjects.

Today, there are five types of Canadian passports:

Regular Passport (navy cover)
These documents are issued to citizens for occasional travel, such as vacations and business trips. They contain 36 pages (29 pages available for visa labels and stamps). They can be issued to adults (age 16 years and older) with a validity of 5 or 10 years.
Temporary Passport (white cover)
These are issued on behalf of Passport Canada to Canadians with an urgent and proven need for an interim passport while abroad.[21]
Emergency Travel Document (1 page)
Emergency travel documents are one-use documents issued to Canadians for direct return to Canada or to another Canadian mission where full passport services may be obtained. The document contains details of the person, photo, travel details and expiry date of the document.[21]
Special Passport (green cover)
These are issued pursuant to the Order Respecting the Issuance of Diplomatic and Special Passports[22] to people representing the Canadian government on official business, including Privy Councillors, Members of Parliament, provincial cabinet members, public servants, citizens nominated as official non-diplomatic delegates[23] and Canadian Forces members who are posted abroad.[24] Since January 2009 special passports have been issued as electronic passports, in preparation of the full implementation of the ePassport program.[25]
Diplomatic Passport (maroon cover)
These are issued pursuant to the Order Respecting the Issuance of Diplomatic and Special Passports[22] to Canadian diplomats, top ranking government officials (including lieutenant governors and commissioners of territories),[26] diplomatic couriers, and private citizens nominated as official diplomatic delegates. Since January 2009 diplomatic passports have been issued as electronic passports, in preparation of the full implementation of the ePassport program.[25]

Visa requirements[edit]

Visa requirements for Canadian citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Canada. According to the 2015 Visa Restrictions Index, holders of a Canadian passport can visit 170 countries and territories visa-free or with visa on arrival, and Canada is currently ranked 4th in terms of travel freedom (tied with Belgium, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain).

Foreign travel statistics[edit]

According to the statistics these are the numbers of Canadian visitors to various countries per annum in 2014:

Foreign travel statistics
Destination Number of visitors
 Australia[27][28] 44,200
 Austria[29] 101,033
 Belgium[30] 59,289
 Botswana[note 1][31] 27,242
 Brazil[32] 78,531
 Bulgaria[33] 19,339
 China[34] 667,100
 Costa Rica[note 1][35][36] 160,398
 Croatia[37] 79,000
 Cyprus[38] 3,279
 Dominican Republic[note 2][39] 706,394
 Fiji[note 3][40] 13,426
 Finland[41] 15,410
 France[note 1][42] 1,101,100
 Greece[note 1][43] 186,701
 Greenland[44] 1,396
 Hungary[note 4][45] 33,066
 Iceland[46] 38,790
 India[47] 268,485
 Israel[48] 66,000
 Latvia[49] 4,060
 Macau[50] 32,010
 Macedonia[51] 2,026
 Mexico[note 2][52] 1,676,681
 Moldova[53] 446
 Montenegro[note 4][54] 3,920
 Myanmar[55] 12,268
 Netherlands[56] 143,000
 New Zealand[57] 49,373
 Philippines[58][59] 131,381
 Russia[60] 53,370
 Saint Lucia[note 3][61] 37,709
 Serbia[note 4][62] 1,135
 Seychelles[note 5][63] 1,095
 Singapore[64] 484,912
 Slovenia[65] 13,260
 South Africa[66] 60,544
 South Korea[67] 146,429
 Sri Lanka[note 1][68] 30,382
 Taiwan[69] 72,254
 Trinidad and Tobago[70] 54,877
 Turkey[71] 182,252
 Ukraine[72] 17,875
 United Kingdom[73] 650,000
 United States[note 1][74] 3,003,317
 Vietnam[note 5][75] 105,670
  1. ^ a b c d e f Data for 2013
  2. ^ a b Data for arrivals by air only.
  3. ^ a b Data for 2012
  4. ^ a b c Counting only guests in tourist accommodation establishments.
  5. ^ a b Data for 2015

Physical appearance[edit]

Regular passports are deep navy blue, with the Royal Arms of Canada emblazoned in the centre of the front cover. The words "PASSPORT•PASSEPORT" and the international e-passport symbol (EPassport logo.svg)[76] are inscribed below the coat of arms, and "CANADA" above. The bilingual cover is indicative of the textual portions of Canadian passports being printed in both English and French, Canada's two official languages. The standard passport contains 36 pages, with 29 available for entry/exit stamps and visas. The size dimensions of a closed Canadian passport are 3.5" (width) and 5" (height).

New security features, similar to those on banknotes, have been added with increasing frequency since 2001. Microprinting, holographic images, UV-visible imaging, watermarks and other details have been implemented, particularly on the photo page. As well, the photo is now digitally printed directly on the paper (in both standard and UV-reactive ink); previously, the actual photo had been laminated inside the document.

Personal Data Page of a Canadian passport, from 2002 to 2010

Data page[edit]

  • Photo of the passport holder
  • Type (P) (for Personal passport)
  • Issuing Country (listed as "CAN" for "Canada")
  • Passport No.
  • Surname
  • Given Names
  • Nationality (Canadian/Canadienne)
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex
  • Place of Birth (The city and three-letter country code are listed, even if born inside Canada)
  • Date of Issue
  • Issuing Authority
  • Date of Expiry

The information page ends with the Machine Readable Zone.

As of May 2015, the passport bearer's signature is no longer printed on the data page.[77]

Passport note[edit]

The passports contain a note from the issuing authority addressed to the authorities of all other states, identifying the bearer as a citizen of that state and requesting that they be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The textual portions of Canadian passports are printed in both English and French, the official languages of Canada. The note inside of Canadian passports states:

  • In English:
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada requests, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely, without delay or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."
  • In French:
"Le ministre des Affaires étrangères du Canada, au nom de Sa Majesté la Reine, prie les autorités intéressées de bien vouloir laisser passer le titulaire librement, sans délai ou entrave, de même que lui prêter l'aide et la protection dont il aurait besoin."

Place of birth[edit]

Passport applicants may request, in writing, that Passport Canada not list the place of birth (city and country) - or simply the country - on their data page. A separate form is available for such a request, on which one must indicate one's awareness that omitting this information could cause one difficulties at international entry points or when applying for visas.

Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan[edit]

In response to the government of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) modification to the requirements for the issuance of Chinese visas to Canadian citizens born in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan the PRC will not issue visas to Canadian passport holders whose place of birth is inscribed as being Hong Kong HKG, Macau MAC or (city name) TWN. Accordingly, passports issued to Canadians born in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan now only list the place of birth, without an accompanying three-letter country code, unless upon request.[78]


Since April 1976, the policy has been that Canadian citizens born in Jerusalem have their birthplace identified only by the city's name, with no national designation, due to the unresolved legal status of Jerusalem.[79]


Canadian citizens born prior to 1948 may have their birthplace identified as Palestine if they were born in what was the British Mandate of Palestine (including Jerusalem).[80]

Passport Fees[edit]

Fees as at 1 July 2013[81]
Location Document Adult (16 and over) Children (0 to 15)
Canadian in Canada 5 year 36-page passport $120 $57
Canadian in Canada 10 year 36-page passport $160
Canadian abroad 5 year 36-page passport $190 $100
Canadian abroad 10 year 36-page passport $260


Official Languages[edit]

In September 2003, Le Devoir printed a piece calling on Passport Canada to give individual Canadians the choice of which official language appeared first in their passports, English or French. The Passport Office initially claimed that this was not allowed under international norms, but it was shown that Belgian passport applications asked Belgian citizens which of their country's three official languages (Dutch, French or German) should appear first in their passports.[82]


In 2008, Passport Canada announced that it would be issuing electronic passports to Canadian travellers starting in 2012. The e-passport will have an electronic chip encoded with the bearer's name, gender, and date and place of birth and a digital portrait of their face.

On 7 April 2010, Passport Canada announced that in 2012, Canada will begin issuing electronic passports, or ePassports, to all its citizens. Passport Canada states that "the use of ePassports will allow Canada to follow international standards in the field of passport security to protect the nation's borders and maintain the ease of international travel that Canadians currently enjoy. At the same time, Passport Canada will start offering the option of a 10-year validity period as well as the current 5-year validity period."[83]

Subsequently in September 2011, Passport Canada announced that the electronic passport will be ready by the end of 2012, however this was pushed back once again to 2013 when the organization found significant delay due to an increase in passport applications for revised entry policies to the United States in late 2000s and a lengthy consultation process was needed to survey public reactions to the new passport changes.[84]

As of 1 July 2013, all new Canadian passports issued are ePassports.[85]

All ePassports are issued with 36 pages as opposed to the previous choice of 24 or 48 pages.

Visa free access to the United States[edit]

Previously, Canadians were able to enter the United States by presenting a birth certificate (or other proof of Canadian citizenship) along with a form of photo identification (such as a driver's licence or provincial health card). In many cases United States border agents would accept a verbal declaration of citizenship. Under the United States Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, as of 23 January 2007, all Canadians entering the United States via air are required to present a valid passport or NEXUS card.[86] As of 1 June 2009, all Canadian citizens (16 years or older) require a passport, NEXUS card or enhanced driver's license to enter the US via land or water.[87] In addition, each holder of Canadian passport is entitled to 180 days or 6 months visa free stay in the United States.[88][89]

Notable cases of misuse[edit]

  • In 1940, Frank Jacson, a Spanish national, traveled to Mexico City on a fraudulent Canadian Passport to assassinate Leon Trotsky[90]
  • In 1961, Konon Molody used a fraudulently obtained passport of deceased Canadian Arnold Lonsdale. Using this identity he engaged in espionage activities in the United Kingdom.[90]
  • In 1968, James Earl Ray used a Canadian Passport, obtained using a forged baptismal certificate in the name of Ramon George Sneyd, to temporarily escape capture following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.[90] He was in possession of two Canadian passports at the time of his arrest at London's Heathrow Airport.
  • In 1973, Mossad agents killed a waiter in Norway in the mistaken belief that he was a senior operative for Black September. The use of false Canadian passports by the killers prompted a diplomatic crisis in relations between Canada and Israel, resulting in a commitment by Israel not to misuse Canadian passports in the future. It also resulted in a redesign of the Canadian passport to improve its security features.[91]
  • In 1980, six American diplomats were smuggled out of Iran using authentic Canadian passports containing forged Iranian visas with secret approval of the Canadian government.
  • In 1997, Israeli secret service personnel again botched an assassination bid while using 'Canadian passports'. The attempt against Khaled Mashal in Jordan resulted in the arrest of the would-be killers. The Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy eventually received an apology and a written assurance that Mossad would desist from using Canadian passports.[92]
  • Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian al-Qaeda Millennium Bomber who attempted to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve 1999/2000, evaded deportation by Canada and travelled freely to and from Canada by using a Canadian passport he obtained in March 1998 by submitting a fraudulent baptismal certificate; he used a stolen blank certificate, filling it in with a fictitious name.[93]
  • In 2007, a former Canadian bureaucrat pleaded guilty to selling at least 10 fraudulent passports to individuals overseas.[94]
  • A Russian spy involved in the Illegals Program used a Canadian passport to travel to the United States to deliver payment to Russian sleeper agents. The passport was issued to a man known as Christopher Metsos, however, following the public revelation of the spy ring Passport Canada revoked the document, saying it had been issued by the Canadian High Commission in Johannesburg, South Africa to a man assuming the identity of a deceased Canadian child.[95]


See also[edit]


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External links[edit]