There have been a few stories in the media lately about parents who had signed their child’s Canadian passport, and then found themselves being denied their trip. This has got to be an extremely frustrating position to find yourself in, particularly after you’ve shelled out hard-earned money on a trip. Hearing these stories, reminded me of simple mistakes people make daily with their passports, so let’s have a passport refresher.
Don’t Sign Your Child’s Passport
Obviously at the top of this list is don’t sign your child’s passport, even if a foreign border agent tells you to do so. This is what happened to one of the travellers that hit the news lately. The US border agent told them it had to be signed, but those are American rules. Make sure you know the rules for your Canadian passport so you can advocate for yourself in other countries. In Canada, children under the age of 11 are not required to sign a passport and parents should not sign for them.
Make Sure You Have Copies
When travelling, leave a photocopy with your parents or close friends in case you lose it while away (for good measure also leave copies of your travel itinerary, credit cards and insurance). It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your passport with you. I keep a copy on my phone. Be warned though, your phone is also susceptible to theft. If you keep a copy on your pone, ensure your phone is secure with password protection and can we wiped remotely should you lose it.
Don’t Let Your Passport Expire, Not Even Close
Lots of people will tell you not to let your passport expire. I would tell you not to let it come within six months of expiry. Some countries have special expiration rules, that will not allow you to visit if your passport expires within six months of your expected departure date. That means if you’re planning an extended one month vacation, your passport expiry must extend six months past your last day of vacation.
Lock Them Up!
Unless you’re in transit, your passport should never be on your person. Keep it in a safe at home, or in a safe at the hotel. Next to your birth certificate and social insurance number, your passport is one of the most important documents you’ll ever have; take care of it. The loss of any of these documents leaves you open to potentially devastating personal fraud.
No Third Party Can Help
Finally, there is no third party that can help speed up the passport process for you. Our government does a pretty great job at issuing passports and can even expedite them for you if you’re in a rush. Never ever trust anyone outside of the government with your information. You can find more information about obtaining a passport here.