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February 20th 2008
Published: March 12th 2008
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It's incredible the stress and bureaucracy we had to go through just to get a 4 page temporary passport.
Yeah we have our temporary passports, and new 48 page passports are on their way....

Some of you already know about the stress our passport issue has caused us. But I'll explain a little of the history for those that may not already know.

It started in West Africa, as we were crossing several borders, and entering several countries requiring full passport page visas. It was when we exited Nigeria, when we realized we wouldn't have enough passport pages to get us all the way through into Kenya. The standard issue Canadian passport is only 24 pages, of which only approximately 17 pages are usable for visas/entry/exit stamps. Apparently Canada does offer a 48 page passport, but you have to specifically request it, as it is not given as an option on the current passport application.

Entering Egypt, I only had 2 blank pages remaining in my passport, while Jordan had 4 blank pages. So we contacted the Canadian Embassy in Cairo, to explain our situation, but once you apply for new passports, you must surrender your current passport. It takes 15 business days to receive your new passport and we were not able to wait that long in any one city because of the type of trip we are on. As an alternative we could apply for temporary passports, which are available in 3-4 days, (and still surrender our current passports) then arrange to pick up the new passport in another location (i.e. Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam etc). This was not an option while in Cairo, since we had our Sudan visas in our current passport, and it would be very difficult if not impossible to get the visas transfered to our temporary passport. We had enough pages in our passports to get us into Ethiopia, where hopefully we would have enough time to apply for the temporary passports, etc.

Another issue was that in order to apply for new passports, I needed to have my birth certificate on me to include with the application, and a photocopy was not sufficient. Ridiculous that to renew a valid passport (even just to get more pages) a birth certificate is required for proof of citizenship! We managed to sort this out, by having my parents take my original birth certificate to the nearest passport office in Canada (Edmonton), and they would fax a copy to the Canadian embassy in Addis Ababa. Yeah, we were so happy when we received confirmation that the embassy in Addis had received the fax.

We arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday evening, and went straight to the Canadian embassy on Monday morning with our completed passport applications, lieu of guarantor forms, money, etc. They told us that hopefully our tempory passports would be available for pick up on Wednesday/Thursday, it just depended on when they received confirmation from Passport Canada. This timing was cutting it pretty close, as our trip was scheduled to leave Addis on Thursday morning, going south into very remote areas of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.

We went back to the embassy on Wednesday morning, to hear that the embassy still hadn't received confirmation from Passport Canada, and that they would be calling them at 2pm that day. I cried. It's pretty stressful, not knowing whether we'll be able to get our temporary passports in time to leave Addis as scheduled. Note that since we applied for new passports we had to surrender our current passports so during our stay in Addis we had no passports, and no Ethiopian visas.

We pretty much spent all of our time in Addis going back and forth between the Canadian embassy and our hotel, and the various internet cafes. Email was the only way the Canadian embassy could contact us about when our temporary passport was ready for pick up.

So at 2:30pm Wednesday afternoon, we checked our email, hoping that we would hear back from the embassy, and YES, we received the email confirmation. We raced to the embassy to pick up our passports, then raced to the Ethiopian Immigration office (to check to see if there was going to be a problem with our visas being in a canceled passport) then back to the hotel.

Needless to say that on our last night in Addis we went out to a 'fancy' italian restaurant to celebrate our new passports, and dinner cost us all of about $20.

A summary of the costs for a Canadian Resident to renew a passport while travelling abroad:
- $70 (temporary, 4-page passports)
- $50 (in-lieu of guarantor because how can you have a guarantor living in a country that you are only visiting)
- $105 (48-page new passport)
- $30 in taxi rides back and forth to the embassy.

Love our Canadian Government...


11th November 2011

stumbled across your page. Great story, but I'm not sure I agree with your last dig at the government. Imagine if the shoe were in the other foot and you were a citizen of an African passport needed a new passport in Canada :) Anyway. I'm writing this comment in response to an issue that's arising now with Canadian passports. They are introducing a new (biometric) passport, that's going to be more expensive and there will NOT be a 48 page option. If this affects you, you have until Nov 25th to participate in the public consultation process, which I encourage you to do. In short: You may submit your input electronically at Alternatively, you may submit your input by mail, at the following address. Please include a return address. User Fees Act Input Passport Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0G3 CANADA

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