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'I waited for 7 hours': Metro Vancouverites continue to report long passport wait times

Some locals report lengthy waits despite an overall improvement in Service Canada's passport processing.
Getting a Canadian passport appointment booking in Metro Vancouver isn't a quick experience for all customers despite overall wait times decreasing.

Some Metro Vancouverites continue to wait for multiple hours in lines for their Canadian passports despite the backlog of travel documents improving over the past couple of months. 

While the wait times for receiving a passport in the Lower Mainland have drastically improved, many people report waiting for several hours at Service Canada offices or multiple months to receive their documents via mail. 

Locals have shared their recent experiences on social media, with people expressing that they waited upwards of seven hours in sprawling lines to speak to a representative. Not only have people waited for multiple hours to renew their passports, but they have also waited in long lines to simply pick up their travel documents. 

In one incident, a Vancouverite said they had been waiting for three hours and only two of 11 kiosks were open to customers.  

But some Metro Vancouverties have reported smoother experiences. 

A Vancouver woman reported receiving her passport before the time she was told it was come and joked that it was "sorcery."

In the spring and summer of 2022 -- when Canada dropped many of its pandemic-related travel restrictions -- scores of people flooded Service Canada offices with requests for passports, resulting in staggering wait times across the region. In one incident, a local woman flew to another province to get her travel document quicker. Other locals posted advertisements offering to wait in line for people, charging as much as $800 for the service.

Canada passport appointment booking in Metro Vancouver

To decrease crowding and wait times at Service Canada officers, Employment and Social Services Canada (ESDC) implemented "triage measures" and created an appointment booking tool.  

But several people say the feature isn't always available to them, even if they meet all of the criteria to book an appointment (ie. they must not need the passport within two days). 

The eServiceCanada Appointment Booking Tool website states that "some locations are seeing high demand for appointments."

Andy Anderson, the founder of the crowd-sourced Passport Waiting Time Canada website, told V.I.A. that passport wait times to receive the travel documents have "improved greatly in the last few months" and overall people are "very surprised" by how quickly they have received them.

According to the current crowd-sourced average wait times, it will take roughly 20.76 days to receive a new adult passport, 18.71 days to renew an adult passport, and 21.71 days to receive a child's passport.

Anderson notes, however, that the data doesn't show how long people waited in queues at passport offices; it only reflects the total time they waited to receive their travel documents.

Service Canada customer service improves as wait times decrease 

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) told V.I.A, in a statement that average wait times for Service Canada offices in the Vancouver area (Vancouver, Richmond, and Surrey) are about two- to two-and-a-half hours and that they have been "meeting or exceeding the 10 business day, plus mailing time service standard."

Service Canada offices also monitor and adjust their workflows to expedite service and current wait times in the Vancouver area are in line with "pre-pandemic service standards."

Since the peak of backlogged passport applications in August 2022, nearly 100 per cent of them have been processed, and "the backlog has been virtually eliminated," according to the department.

"A small number of older applications, less than 130, remain within Service Canada’s active workload inventory. Service Canada has assessed these files and is working diligently to complete the review and identify the appropriate outcome and ensure passport integrity."

Moving forward, Service Canada will focus its efforts on preparing for increased customer volumes as the first 10-year validity passport expire. The 10-year option was introduced in the summer of 2013 and renewal applications have started rolling in, with volumes in line with the department's forecasts.

The service standard for an in-person application at a specialized passport office is 10 business days, and 20 business days for mail-in applications and applications made at a Service Canada Centre. Service Canada says it is currently "exceeding the 10-day and 20-day standards," but that locals should anticipate possible lineups during seasonal peaks.

Clients who applied for their passport more than 20 business days ago, can request a transfer by contacting the Passport Program, or by visiting a passport office or a Service Canada Centre to ensure their application is processed in time for their travel.  

Canadians can visit the Find a passport service location in Canada webpage to know the wait times at the different locations.