Some good news for frequently travelling young professionals (YPs): yesterday, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that Canada’s new and more secure 10-year ePassport is now available to Canadians. As of Canada Day 2013, all new Canadian passports issued are 36-page electronic passports, or ePassports. The Canadian ePassport looks like a regular passport, but has new security features that make the passport even more tamper-proof.
“The new, 10-year ePassport provides more convenience for Canadians, and facilitates safe, secure travel which, in turn, helps create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians,” said Minister Kenney.
Over 100 countries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, are already issuing ePassports. They have become the international norm in travel documents and contain technologically advanced features, like an embedded electronic chip, to prevent fraud. The chip stores the same personal information as that which is recorded on the second page of the passport (except for the signature), as well as a photo and a digital security feature that proves that the Government of Canada issued the passport. For security reasons, once the personal information is stored on the chip, it cannot be modified without invalidating the passport.
The new ePassport features iconic images that celebrate Canada’s history and culture, like Robert Harris’ painting of the Fathers of Confederation; a depiction of the last spike completing the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885; and a picture of Pier 21 in Halifax.
So, what are the benefits of the ePassport? At $160, a 10-year passport provides better value for for Canadians, as it costs less per year than the previous cost of a five-year passport. It also means that we will not have to renew our passports as frequently. Let’s face it; passports can be annoying, and most of us have likely been in that mad scramble upon realizing that a passport is set to expire before a big trip.
ePassports also reduce the risk of tampering and identity fraud by adding more layers of identity checks within the passport, all of which must match. By strengthening identity checks, ePassports reduce the risk of other countries imposing visa requirements on travellers. (Needing a visa can add up to $150 per trip, depending on the country.) Globally, ePassports also enable automated border processing.