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Guest
Blogger – Denise F. of Journeys

 

It was that
time again, time to renew the passports. We were dreading it. We’d last renewed
our passports 5 years ago and it wasn’t fun. The rejected pictures, getting
there before they open, not enough chairs in the waiting room, lineups down the
hall, the cranky federal servants. Not something we were anxious to repeat!

Our plan was
to do anything and everything we could to keep our visit under 2 hours.

 

First, we
were going to renew in summer. Definitely better than high travel season when
half the city is trying to escape the cold.

 

Second, we
were going mid-week. Although in peak season it might not make much difference,
in summer I was hopeful.

 

Plus, we
chose the Tuesday before a long weekend hoping people were preparing for other
plans or already out of town.

 

Originally
we intended to get there shortly after they opened but delay after delay saw us
get there closer to 11am. I was not amused. This was really going to mess up
our day.

 

I was not amused.
We drove
around a couple blocks, found a parking spot and made our way in.

 

Several
people in the elevator were also going to the passport office so we hit the
button and up we went. (BTW – that’s probably the fastest elevator in
Winnipeg!)

 

When we
walked through the double doors it was as I suspected: lineups, people at the
counters finishing their paperwork, and no two chairs together. We walked up to
the gentleman who gives out the “deli counter numbers” and got our ticket. But
what had he said? We thought we hadn’t heard him right. We were up in four??

 

We took a
closer look around the room. Okay, so there were some chairs available after all, in fact a whole
section hardly being used. And those lineups? Large families including two with
strollers. At the counters, where people were putting the finishing touches on
their paperwork, it was actually just 2 couples. But still, how could we be
fourth?

 

Turns out,
the simplified passport renewal is a get-out-of-line free card!

 

There are a
few conditions to qualify for this method. First, you have to be over 18. You also
have to have a current passport, or your last passport has to be expired for
less than a year. You had to have been at least 16 when that passport was
issued to you. And finally, you have to be in Canada. All pretty
straightforward!

 

For a
passport renewal you definitely want to fill it out online. This way, the
system can tell you if you’re missing anything important. It makes things a lot
faster at the window if they don’t have to ask a lot of questions, or worse,
send you away to do it again.

 

So, with photos
in hand and paperwork completed online we had walked into the passport office
with trepidation. When you reach the person who greets and gives out your
number in line they ask if it’s a simplified renewal, or new. Turns out if it’s
a simplified renewal your number gets pulled from a different queue.
So while
some people in the waiting room were going to be there for an hour or more, we
were behind just three other people!

 

When it was
our turn we headed to a wonderful agent, cheerful and friendly. She asked a
couple questions, checked all our paperwork (which didn’t need any changing or
clarifications), and we were on our way. The entire process was less than 20
minutes from lobby and back again.
Now that’s
the way to renew a passport!

 

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