Canada's new passport will showcase the country's rich history as part of a security feature, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday in Ottawa.
The new e-passport design will include a chip that makes it more secure and will feature iconic images from Canadian history. The Passport Office says the complexity of the images makes the passport more difficult to counterfeit.
"I suspect we're going to continue to take measures, as we've done with currency, to constantly try to stay ahead of the curve," Baird said.
The 16 new features will add to the aesthetic appeal of the document. Watermarks on the new passport pages will feature iconic photos and artwork, including depictions of explorer Samuel de Champlain, the builders of the national railway and the North. The passports will also feature quotes from prime ministers Sir John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier.
It has been more than 10 years since the last redesign, Baird said, calling the passport a ticket to new cultures and new experiences.
As a minister who travels around the world, Baird says he has nearly filled two passports.
The Passport Office says the first batch of e-passports will be issued for five years in select locations during the first quarter of 2013. Five- and 10-year e-passports will be available everywhere by early summer, but they'll come at a higher price: $120 for five years, up from the current $87, and $160 for the 10-year option.
Passports for children will be $57, an increase of $20.
For those applying outside of Canada, the fee jumps to $190 for a five-year passport — up from $97 — and $260 for the document that would expire in 10 years.
By comparison, it currently costs $135 to apply for a new passport in the United States, $25 less for a renewal. An adult passport in the United Kingdom costs the equivalent of about $117.
Canada is the last G7 country to adopt chip-enhanced passports; 95 countries around the world already make use of e-passports to enhance security.
The chip embedded in the back cover of the new passport makes the document more tamper-proof and stores all of the identifying information found on the second page of the passport, minus the signature.
Baird said Friday the chip will make Canadian passports much harder to copy.
"Nothing is ever impossible, but I think what we've done is raise the bar, not just with the chip in the passport but also the security features on every page."
"(It) makes it demonstrably more difficult to commit fraud."