Henley & Partners—a global immigration consultancy firm—has ranked the Canadian passport as the 7th most recognised in the world, putting it alongside passports of the United States, Poland, Greece, and Czechia.
According to the report, a Canadian passport allows visa-free travel access to 183 countries, making it one of the foremost in the world. This year the distinction of most recognised passport went to the Singaporean passport (granting access to 193 countries), with Japan trailing closely behind (granting access to 192 countries). The Afghanistan passport scored last this year, allowing access to 27 countries without a visa.
Travelling with a Canadian passport
Having a Canadian passport impacts your travel activities. With it, unrestricted exit or entry into Canada is permitted without the need for permits, visas, or other travel restrictions. However, only Canadian citizens are eligible to receive passports, not permanent residents, or those with temporary status.
As mentioned previous, Canadian passport holders enjoy visa-free travel to over 183 locations around the world, some of which include:
- The United States;
- The United Kingdom;
- The Schengen Area;
- Australia and New Zealand;
- South Korea;
- Brazil; and
- The United Arab Emirates.
You do not necessarily have to give up your current passport if you apply for a Canadian one. Canada permits dual citizenship, and hence multiple passports (if one’s home nation also has a dual citizenship policy). Thus, you can maintain as many passports as you qualify for.
You Need to Become a Citizen First
Attaining citizenship is a prerequisite for acquiring a Canadian passport. This involves several steps.
You must first be a permanent resident of Canada and comply with the country's physical presence rules. For example, you need to demonstrate that you have lived in Canada for at least three of the past five years, which translates to approximately 1,095 days.
If applicable, you must also file your taxes. To highlight your understanding and communication abilities, passing a Canadian citizenship test and proving your language skills are also necessary.
Even if your permanent resident status was procured differently, these conditions must be met. Overall, a minimum of three years is generally required to secure Canadian citizenship, if pursuing a naturalisation route.
Note that if you are the direct child of a Canadian citizen (who was a citizen at the time of your birth) you may be eligible to inherit citizenship status from your parent.
How to Obtain a Canadian Passport
Once you have completed your citizenship ceremony and received your citizenship certificate, you can apply for a passport. Every citizen of Canada is eligible to apply for this document, and it is uncommon to be found ineligible. However, if you are found ineligible your citizenship may be revoked due to misrepresentation on your application or if there are concerns about security, violations of human or international rights, or connections to organised crime, associated with your application.
The procedure to apply for a Canadian passport requires specific paperwork as well. Your citizenship certificate is among the most critical documents, and you must include the original copy in your application. Even Canadians who were born in Canada need to provide a birth certificate as proof of their citizenship.
You will need several documents in your application form, including:
- proof of Canadian citizenship (citizenship certificate or Canadian birth certificate only);
- any valid Canadian passport or other form of travel document issued in your name (such as a refugee travel document or certificate of identity);
- two references in support of your passport application;
- a document that confirms your identity; and
- two identical passport-size photographs.
In addition, when applying for your first passport, you will need a guarantor. A guarantor must fulfil certain requirements, which can change based on both the type of passport, and location from which your application is being submitted.
You can apply for a passport online, and can complete the process at a Service Canada centre, either with a pre-arranged appointment, or through the walk-in service.
Passport Processing Duration
The need for new passports and passport renewals among Canadians is currently high, owing to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic easing across the globe.
The Canadian government has recently introduced a tool for tracking processing times. As of now, it indicates that the time taken to process a passport application from inside Canada could range from regular service (10-20 business days) to urgent processing, which could take anywhere from 2-9 days, or as little as by the end of the next day.
As a result, if you plan to travel outside Canada in the foreseeable future, it is advisable to initiate the application process well in advance.
Apart from unrestricted travel, a Canadian passport offers several other advantages. With the passport, you'll be recognised as a Canadian citizen, enjoying all the rights and freedoms like any other citizen; specifically, you'll be eligible to vote in elections, run for political office, and be eligible for jobs that may require higher security clearances.
Another significant perk is that the hassle of status renewal every five years is eliminated, (something usually mandatory for permanent residents). This translates into saving costs associated with application submission and remaining hassle-free from approaching Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for extensions.
Lastly, new Canadians are also given free perks in Canada for the first year of their new citizenship. Over 80% of permanent residents in Canada prefer to attain citizenship, primarily due to these benefits.
Applying for your Passport
Applying for your Canadian passport is an important step in benefitting from all the rights of being Canadian. Like any other step in the immigration process it must be adhered to carefully, as any misrepresentation (known or otherwise) can constitute serious penalties, and even potential loss of status. For this reason, many individuals choose to hire immigration lawyers to handle their passport applications, not just to ensure adherence to best practices, but also for the peace of mind that their services can provide.