You’re on the last day of an overseas trip when your passport goes missing. You’re sure you locked the in-room safe before heading out for dinner. The door is ajar when you try to punch in the combination. Don’t panic just yet.
Stolen PR Card Strands Barrie Man
Barrie resident Cornelis Ruijter was on vacation in Italy in November 2019 when a thief made off with his Canadian permanent resident (PR) card and Netherlands passport. Ruijter immigrated to Canada in 1961. He made an emergency trip to the Netherlands to apply for a new passport, then mailed it to Vienna for a replacement PR stamp.
Waited Five Weeks for PR Stamp
Ruijter was lucky. It took him five weeks to get into Canada. Other immigrants have waited months and sometimes years for permission to return. Applying for a passport in a country you left behind years or even decades ago can be daunting.
Stranded by a Misplaced Passport
A Zimbabwean student staying in St. John’s, Newfoundland, had the opposite experience when he lost his passport. Leonard Mawora told CBC News he couldn’t eat, sleep or stop searching after misplacing it just days before Christmas. The Memorial University business student ransacked “every inch of his place” in a desperate bid to find the passport, which held his study permit and U.K. and Canadian visas.
A Tale of Two Bags
Mawora was packing to return home in 2019 when a quick trip to Winners to pick up a pair of duffel bags became his undoing. The 26-year-old started packing, then realized he had one bag too many. He unpacked the few items in the second bag and returned it. Hidden in a fold was the wayward passport. It was too late when Mawora realized his mistake. The store had resold the black Guess bag.
Years-long Wait for Zimbabwean Passport
Mawora’s anxiety was made worse by bureaucratic delays. Ottawa’s Zimbabwe embassy could get him home for Christmas. But getting a new passport once he got there could take up to two years. That left him with no immediate way to finish his Canadian studies.
Just in Time for Christmas
Then, a break in the case of the missing travel documents. With Christmas just two days away, a St. John’s woman who bought the Guess bag reached in and found his passport. A week after his frantic Facebook plea, Mawora was winging his way back to the African continent, with an invitation to join his new Canadian friends for a belated Christmas dinner when he returned.
What to Do If Your Documents Go Missing
Mawora’s experience is easy to relate to. Who hasn’t temporarily misplaced legal documents? Being on vacation in a foreign land like Ruijter makes lost or stolen travel papers all that more distressing. First step: report to the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. Australian or Swedish government offices can also assist, by special agreement with the Canadian government.
Documents You Will Need
When you report a lost or stolen passport to a Canadian embassy or consulate, they usually issue temporary travel documents or a new passport to get you home. To request a new passport, you will need two references, plus a guarantor who speaks English or French. The guarantor must have known you personally for at least two years (a relative or travel companion works), be able to verify your identity and be available to answer questions. Your application must include:
- two identical passport photos, one signed by the guarantor
- a birth certificate proving your identity
- passport and replacement fees
- and a written “declaration concerning a lost, stolen, inaccessible, damaged or found Canadian travel document” form.
Fixing a Delayed Foreign Visa Application
You can also contact a Canadian government office abroad if a foreign visa application ties up your passport just as you need it to travel.
Dealing With Seized Travel Documents
Six Nation members with Haudenosaunee passports know how it feels to have travel documents seized. Canadian, U.S. and U.K. border services don’t recognize the Iroquois Confederacy-issued document. Members who have used the passport to travel between Quebec, Ontario and New York State have had theirs seized by Canadian border agents. Best fix: check in with the nearest consulate or embassy if your Canadian passport is withheld by border agents or police.
Damaged Passport, Get a New One
A damaged passport can also hold up your travels. Don’t wait until you are turned down at the ticket counter hours before your flight departs or refused entry at the border. Apply for a new one before you leave Canada if your passport:
- has missing pages
- is marked up or torn
- got wet or exposed to humidity that damaged it
- was chewed on by your baby or dog
- photo or information looks changed or falsified
- cover has come off.
A passport office or airline counter can advise you if your passport may need replacing.
Request a Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor
Axess Law’s Ontario commissioners of oaths witness statutory declarations in lieu of a guarantor for passport or PR card applications. Make an appointment at your convenience, 7 days a week, day or evening. Dial toll-free to 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. Notary publics are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oath services.
Photo by StockSnap|Pixabay.