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Passport office unable to maintain operations without fee hikes: agency

OTTAWA — The cost of getting a Canadian passport is going up significantly in the new year.

Without the fee increases, Passport Canada would not be able to maintain operations, let alone offer security-enhanced travel documents, the agency says.

Regulations posted this week confirm the cost of a five-year passport will increase to $120 from $87. And starting in July 2013, a 10-year passport will also be offered at a cost of $160.

By March 2014, Passport Canada will also charge an additional $45 to replace a passport that’s lost or stolen, something that’s currently free. Approximately 55,000 Canadian passports are reported lost or stolen annually, the agency said.

As well, anyone ordering or wanting to receive their passport outside of Canada will see fees nearly double.

The agency said it’s currently losing nearly $5 every time it issues a passport, and has been financing its deficit by using previously accumulated surpluses that will run out next year. Passport fees in Canada have not increased for nearly a decade, the agency noted.

“Passport Canada is quickly reaching a point where not only will new advancements such as the ePassport be impossible, but the organization’s ability to maintain current operations and deliver its mandate will be jeopardized,” the agency said in a statement posted on the Canada Gazette website.

“Passport Canada must secure a fee increase to introduce the 10-year ePassport, keep pace with technological advancements and maintain its current level of service for Canadians.”

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced in October that Canada would adopt new passports that include chip technology and watermark images designed to prevent fraud.

The ePassport looks like a regular passport booklet, but contains an electronic chip that holds all of the personal information listed on the second page of the document.

The chip — already being used in dozens of other countries — can be read by border authorities to confirm the passport is valid.

Canada is the only G8 country that doesn’t currently issue ePassports to the general public.

 
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