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A Genius But Morally Gray Travel Hack To Get A Passport Quickly

by SharonKurheg

There are some travel hacks that make life easier and are 100% innocent:

There are other travel hacks that give the hacker something but at the expense of a person or company. These are hacks with morally gray areas:

There’s a new, morally gray hack out there that’s being used by our neighbors to the north. And unfortunately, I don’t see why it couldn’t be done here, as well. It’s a way to get your passport really fast.

The Canadian government is having the same problem we had last year – it’s taking a long, long time for passports to be processed. It makes perfect sense – after two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, it seems as if everyone in Canada wants to travel internationally. In fact, Canadians submitted over a million applications in recent months, which blows the record of any amount in recent history. So passport applications and renewals are coming in at record rates and the government can’t keep up with the backlog. 25% still haven’t been processed, and some passports are taking 5+ months to be sent back to people.

Canadian federal officials are doing their best to clean up the mess – they’re processing applications in the order of when citizens’ travel plans are, they’ve hired 600 more passport officers, and opened more passport service sites. They’ve also extended hours at all passport processing sites.

But there’s still a backlog, and citizens’ planned vacations are still coming up. Something’s got to give. In this case, according to the CBC, some Canadians are gaming the system with fake travel plans.

Similar to the U.S., you can get a passport quickly in Canada if you can prove you have travel plans in the extremely near future. So in an effort to get their passports quickly, some Canadians are booking full-fare or business class ticket air travel a couple of days away, going to passport processing sites with proof of their imminent travel, and getting their passports that day. They then cancel their flight to Miami, the UK, or wherever, and get a full refund.

It’s genius, but the ethical baggage is enormous.

The government is well aware of what people are doing, and is urging Canadians not to game the system that way.

Karina Gould, the minister in charge of passport services, said of the questionable deed, “That impacts the whole system. There are a lot of people who did the right thing. They sent off their passports well in advance. Their applications are impacted by anyone who books fake travel.”

Could this be done in the United States? Absolutely. We have a similar system in place. Besides being able to get a passport almost immediately if you have a life-or-death emergency that requires international travel within 72 hours (3 business days), you can also possibly get one quickly if you have urgent international travel within 14 calendar days. It’s not as easy as Canada’s system; they do most of their passport applications in person, so they have more processing centers than we do. The U.S. only has 26 passport agencies and centers; you’d have to call to make an appointment, then go to the center in person. You’d have to show proof of your upcoming travels, but at that point there’s nothing stopping people from making a plane reservation that’s fully refundable or that can be cancelled last-minute.

Is it respectable? I don’t think so. If enough people did it, it would jam up the system for people who truly need to leave the country to, for example, see their dying relative.

But is it possible? Technically, yes. But your moral compass would certainly be in question. It would be unethical, and we wouldn’t recommend it.

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4 comments

SgFm August 21, 2022 - 5:19 pm

Assuming the online application process for renewals is available, (it was two weeks ago), apply that way instead. Your current passport will be invalid as soon as you submit your renewal application, but if my experience is at all typical, it took me twelve days to get my passport in hand, via USPS. $130 for what is now considered the larger size, 50 pages; same price if you just need the regular size one.

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SharonKurheg August 21, 2022 - 5:23 pm

Good point. Online renewals will only be through the end of the month, or the first 25,000 applicants. Eventally it will be the norm, but not quite yet. Until then, the official wait can be upwards of 8 to 11 weeks (although anecdotally it’s less).

Reply
Ed August 21, 2022 - 5:45 pm

25,000 applications were received as of August 12 and that was the cutoff. Looks like online renewals will resume in September although no specific date has been posted.

Reply
SharonKurheg August 21, 2022 - 6:06 pm

Thanks, Ed. I had been keeping an eye out to see when the 25k would be reached. Personally, I thought it’d be days before near the halfway point in the month LOLOL

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