JUST ASK ANGIE
Can I really apply for a passport on the Coast?
Some of you may know about the twice monthly Service Canada outreach days that take place out of the Service BC Office in Sechelt. Did you know that for a number of months now, they’ve been accepting passport applications?
The passport services offered via the Sechelt outreach site can’t help in all circumstances like a full-service Passport Services Site can, but the basic services offered should be able to meet the needs of many who want in-person service or support with their application. Completing an application and mailing it in on your own without any support is always an option if your application is not complicated, but for those looking to have a government representative look over it, this outreach site provides an on-Coast option to do so.
WHAT SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE
Specifically, Service Canada Representatives can offer the following passport services on their scheduled Sechelt outreach days:
• Review and make sure client application forms are fully completed, and information is correct;
• Review and make sure all required supporting documents – including photos – are submitted, and that all requirements are met;
• Accept simple and complete passport applications and forward them on your behalf to passport processing centres. (Once applications are processed, the passports will be printed and mailed back to you.)
• Process the appropriate fees
• Refer complex cases to a Service Canada Centre Passport Services Site (like the one in Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver). Complex files can include those related to urgent travel, child custody matters, etc.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW!
In the past, we have had people tell us that the outreach site doesn’t have applications on site, and cannot print them off, so it’s best to arrive with your application in-hand, and already filled out to the best of your ability. As well, passport applications may not be easy to find on the web, depending on your level of internet skill, as they are buried deep in the government website. Canada Post outlets may have them, but if they don’t have the type of application you need, we can print one out for you here at the Resource Centre. Give us a call in advance, and you can pick it up at an arranged time.
BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT
The Service Canada Scheduled Outreach days are the first and third Thursdays of each month, at Service BC (5498 Wharf Ave, Sechelt). Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.) It’s on a first come first served basis, and I’ve been told by people who have used the service that even if they arrive early, it can still be a couple hours’ wait. With that in mind, if you have a flexible schedule, the outreach site may work for you.
If the outreach schedule doesn’t work for you, and you need in-person service (as opposed to filling out the application and mailing it to the location printed on the passport application), you can book an appointment here: eservices.canada.ca/en/reservation/.
If you want to be able to book an in-person appointment using the earlier link, note that the Service Canada Centre in Powell River may be a good option for some, if your travel isn’t urgent, and you’d like to avoid Vancouver. For urgent passport matters, like if you are travelling within the week, it looks like the Downtown Vancouver, Richmond or Surrey locations all do “express” and “urgent” pick-up at the moment. That said, best to verify on the website before you go: ircc.canada.ca/english/passport/map/map.asp .
And – on a totally different note from leaving the country – a proud local moment here: this column has hit its two-year mark! A shout-out to former Coast Reporter editor John Gleeson who gave this column a chance…and to the current team who puts up with my submissions on a bi-weekly basis!
And to all of you…thanks for reading! It feels really good to be able to share all kinds of information with all of you. The goal is that the content in this column will continue to mirror the type of information our Resource Centre staff and volunteers can to connect you with. Don’t forget to keep sending me your questions, ideas and feedback – I always appreciate it. And if you want to get nostalgic, feel free to comb the Just Ask Angie archives by heading to our website, www.resourcecentre.ca and clicking on the “news” heading at the top, or search “Just Ask Angie” in the Coast Reporter website’s search bar.