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National demand for passports leads to walk-in waits at Victoria office

Proof of booking and need are required for travel within a few weeks
A notice posted April 26 alerts the public that no more walk-in clients will be taken for the day at the Service Canada Passport Services office in the The Bay Centre in Victoria. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Passport services at Service Canada’s Bay Centre branch in downtown Victoria have been hampered by increased demand.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday (April 26), those seeking walk-in passport services on the fourth floor of The Bay Centre on Douglas Street were asked to leave the line to Service Canada and return the next day.

Passport processing has been delayed across the country due to increased demand, according to Service Canada’s phone line, which also stated that proof of travel and need are required to issue a passport within the next three to 25 days. Although walk-ins may be turned away, appointments to Service Canada may be booked online at

Urgent passports can be acquired within two business days, with proof of travel and need, from passport specializing Service Canada offices such as that at The Bay Centre. Passports for travel after the next 25 business days can be requested at any Service Canada office or by mail.

Currently, the average wait for passport processing is 26 days; six days longer than the federal agency’s advertised time. The wait comes down to a huge increase in demand, Service Canada said.

Air Canada’s sales spiked in March as travel restrictions eased, pushing bookings to 90 per cent of 2019 levels, according to the airline’s quarterly earnings report. Meanwhile, Service Canada had processed nearly 1.3 million passports between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022; well over double the 360,000 passports processed during the previous fiscal year. The federal government is receiving over 200,000 passport-related calls per day.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians had other things on their minds and planning to renew their passports was not a priority … However, this decrease in passport applications would by necessity result in a higher-than-normal surge at a later date,” the agency said in a statement.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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