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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Have passport, will travel

Canadians flying to the United States now require a passport. We don't need one to cross the border by land yet, but that is in the works. So earlier this month, after over a year of procrastination, I finally applied for a passport.

The application process wasn't that hard as far as government applications go. Passport Canada offers an online form that you can fill out and save, so you don't have to complete it all in one go. Then you have to print off the form and send it in to them--the benefit of using the form, as opposed to simply getting an application and doing it by hand, is that the online form checks to make sure you have properly filled out all the required information.

You must identify yourself, of course, and provide proof of Canadian citizenship--in my case, my birth certificate, driver's licence, and provincial health card sufficed. Then you need two references--someone who's known you for at least two years--and a guarantor. A guarantor is basically someone who will co-sign your passport to verify that yes, you are the person you've claimed to be. In my case I got one of my dad's colleagues to do this. The guarantor signs the passport, puts down his or her own passport number to show that he or she has a valid passport (which is a requirement), and signs the photo to guarantee that it's an accurate likeness of you.

Having filled out the form and gotten it guaranteed, I had to send it to the government. I could mail it in, or I could go in person to the local passport office and submit the application there. Due to the increased volume of passport applications, I wasn't too optimistic about how quickly a mailed application would get processed, so I went in person. About fifteen minutes and $87 later, I had a receipt that said my passport would be mailed to me in a couple of weeks.

Sure enough, on January 22, I got a slip in the mailbox that said something along the lines of, "Hi, it's Canada Post. We have a registered mail package for you, but no one answered the door. Please come pick it up at the post office." Of course, I went to the wrong post office and ended up having to go all the way back across town to get to the right one. :D But at the end of my journey, I had a passport!

It's shiny. It's all official and lets me travel. I'm not big on travelling, but I do have plans to travel in May (crosses fingers), so this will be useful.

And that's how one applies for a Canadian passport, in case you have ever laid awake in bed at night, unable to sleep because you wondered How do Canadians apply for passports?. Now you know.