Come Canada Day, Canadian travellers will have a more high-tech and high-priced passport.
Starting July 1, Canadians will receive a redesigned ePassport featuring several new security and anti-counterfeiting measures, including an electronic chip that stores the user’s personal information.
There’s also been an esthetic overhaul, as the new document features images of iconic Canadiana, including the RCMP, Terry Fox and the Vimy Ridge memorial. The watermarked images double as a security measure as well, making it more difficult to forge a passport.
Maybe of more interest to travellers is that the new 36-page passports also come with a heftier price tag.
The price for a five-year passport will jump to $120 from $87. But 10-year passports will become available for the first time, with a $160 price tag.
Travellers are not required to replace their current passports. Older passports will remain valid until their stated expiry date, Passport Canada says.
Addressing privacy concerns, the agency says the passport chips can only be read from a 10-centimetre range, making it unlikely that the chip can be read without the user's knowledge
When introducing the new documents in December, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird noted it’s been a decade since Canada’s last passport redesign, and Passport Canada says its fees haven’t increased since 2001, meaning the agency actually loses money when issuing new ones.
Canada is the last G7 country to adopt chip-enhanced passports; over 100 countries, including the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K. already employ ePassports.
Canadian passports are a valuable commodity, since they generally allow visa-free access to many countries.
That advantage also makes them a popular target for forgers and thieves. Foreign intelligence services like Israel’s Mossad have used forged Canadian travel documents to carry out operations abroad and in March, a CSIS official warned MPs that militant group Hezbollah was actively seeking operatives with Canadian passports.