Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting a Child's Passport

ALL children who are travelling out of Canada need a passport, and yes that also includes your one-month old baby. Children 0- 15 years of age submit a CHILD General Passport Application for Canadian under 16 years of age applying in Canada or from the USA. Don't you just love the names of government forms?

The form can be obtained from the following two locations:
  1. From your local Canada Post Office
  2. Online from Passport Canada

Passport Photos

Once you have your child's passport application, one of the first steps is to get your child's passport photograph taken. This is when the real fun begins. There are very specific requirements for the passport photo, some of which include:

  • The photo must be taken by a commercial photographer
  • Your child's eyes must be open and clearly visible.
  • Your child must have a neutral expression on their face (so no tantrums or giggles). However passport Canada recognizes how difficult it is to obtain a neutral expression from newborns and will be tolerant in this respect.
  • Only the head and shoulders of the child should be visible -- so no adult hands holding the child.

I told you this is when the fun begins!  Here are 7 things I learned after many children's passport photos:

  1. Make your passport picture errand the ONLY plan for the day. You don't want to be doing a million errands and then take your cranky, tired, hungry, bored, restless child to have their passport picture taken which can require a great of patience from all. If after the passport photo everyone has energy for other things - BONUS!
  2. Feed your baby or toddler or growing pre-teen BEFORE the photo taking (see above, re: cranky/hungry child).
  3. I recommend going first thing in the morning (if a toddler) or after the morning nap (if a baby). Your baby's/toddler's eyes need to be open, so they need to be awake.
  4. If the passport photo is for your baby, you'll want to go to a place that has a stool that is high enough for you to bend down (and away from the shot) while holding your baby in place (remember only the head and shoulders of the child should be visible).
  5. Passport Canada will allow photos of newborns in car seats, as long as a white blanket is placed over the seat behind the child's head. There must be no shadows on the face or shoulders, around the ears or in the background (so that's another option to holding your non-sitting/steady baby on a stool)
  6. If you are getting your baby's photo taken, call ahead and confirm that the person working that day will do infant passport photos. Some locations, staff etc., will refuse to take infant passport photos because of the time it takes. That being said, my easiest passport photos were of my sons when they were babies. My hardest was of my then 4 year old, who did not understand he could NOT smile for the camera.
  7. I would also recommend going to somewhere that guarantees their passport photo. You don't want to go through this exercise, spend $20, and then have your child's photo rejected by Passport Canada, and then are out $20 Some of the businesses that guarantee photos (which means you get a free one if Passport Canada rejects the photo) include:

One more tip: If you are looking for cheap passport photos, Costco Canada has the cheapest deal in town - $6.99! However, having never used their passport services, I am not sure if they guarantee their photos. Maybe one of you has used Costco Canada and can confirm, let us know in the comment field.

Processing your Child's Passport Application

When your form is completed, your photo signed by your guarantor, and all your supporting documents gathered (e.g. birth certificate, old passports, etc.) you can take it all to your nearest passport office. It's a good idea to have all the passport information filled out first, as that puts you in the priority line-up. Also mid to late afternoon is reportedly the best time to go...and as YOU are the one applying for your child's passport on their behalf the child does NOT have to be there. So, if the line-ups are long, you can leave baby with grandma or the other parent or a babysitter and be happy knowing you don't also have to entertain your child. Please note that the parent whose name is on the application as the applying parent must be the parent who goes to the passport office (see Passport Canada FAQ).

Your child's passport should be processed in 10 business days, not including delivery time. There are also options to expediate the passport, such as 24 hour processing time. For more information, look at Passport Canada's Processing Times.

But wait, my nearest Passport Canada Office is far, far away!

What if you don't leave near a passport office? This is my situation as my nearest passport office is a 4 to 5 hour drive away. Not very convenient. You can mail in your passport, but that will take 20 days to process (not including delivery time of the passport) and there isn't an agent to check over the application to confirm that all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed. You have two options:

  1. You can take your passport application to a Receiving Agent, found at participating Canada Post locations and Service Canada Centres. The Receiving Agent will review passport applications to ensure accuracy and completeness, as well as to collect the appropriate fees. It will still take 20 days to process and it will cost you $20 extra for the service, BUT you may save yourself time and headaches if you've missed something on the application. BOTH parents must be present to use the services of a Receiving Agent. Please visit the Passport Canada website to find where your closest Receiving Agent is located
  2. Many MPs offer Passport Clinics, which offer the same service as the Receiving Agent, but are free. I have used this service and it was great. I was also told by my local MP office that it is faster to go through the MP office and have them delivery the passport application, than it is to mail it myself.
If you are mailing your passport application, I would recommend sending it by certified mail or through an express delivery courier that provides a tracking number.

Do you have any tips or hints for applying for a child's passport? If you do, share them in the comment section.


  1. HI:
    Thanks for the post - great information.
    1. Did you choose the receiving agent method to apply?
    2. How did Passport Canada send you the passport back? Did you need to submit a prepaid envelope?

  2. Hello PK,

    Thanks for reading! To answer your questions:

    1. I took my passport to my local MP's office. It's free and they are trained to check your application. They will also mail it for you (for free). I'm not sure if every MP's office provides this service, so call ahead first. If you go through a Receiving Agent at Canada Post, you will be charged $20 for the verification and mailing costs (http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/business/support/helpcentre/post_office/passpost_application.jsf)

    2. Passport Canada mailed the passport back. No, I did not submit a prepaid envelope.