What is the best way to renew Canadian Passport in the US?
October 4, 2015 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Calling all Canadians in the US. I have to make a decision whether to send in my passport by mail or make a personal trip to Canada.

Hive mind, please help out a Canadian trying to renew her passport in the United States
I have two options.

By mail:
Where can I get Canadian specification pictures? I live in Philly but local post office, CVS, Walgreens won't do it.
I also have an L1 visa. Would they stamp my new passport with the Visa when they mail it back?

In person in Canada:
I can make a trip to Canada but will not be able to stay for 10 days that is required for the Visa renewal. Is the case that I now live in the US enough to justify a rush? My passport is valid till January 2016.
On the website they say you can have your passport mailed back to you in the US. But can you even enter the US without a passport?

I'm terribly confused by the process. There isn't a lot of clear information available on the site. I'm planning to call up the passport office in Toronto tomorrow but any past experience/advice would be helpful
posted by quirksilver to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This blog post seems to have become an unofficial directory for professional photographers in the US who do Canadian passport photos, and a place in Philly called 'Pretty Photo' is recommended there: they also get the thumbs up on Yelp.
posted by holgate at 5:37 AM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you renew at the Canadian Embassy or a consulate?
My SO, who is Portuguese, was able to renew her passport a couple years ago by driving up to DC and visiting the Portuguese Embassy.

Here is the # for the Canadian Embassy : 202-682-1740
posted by PlantGoddess at 5:38 AM on October 4, 2015

And the protocol for the valid L1 visa is to carry both the expired and new passport.
posted by holgate at 5:41 AM on October 4, 2015

Canadian embassies in the US do not provide passport services.

You could also ask this person what they did.

I am watching these threads with interest as my husband is going to have to renew his passport in the next year.
posted by quaking fajita at 7:50 AM on October 4, 2015

After a lot of back-and-forth with the consulate in Chicago I just gave up and drove to Windsor to deal with stuff at the Passport Office there. Easier for me, though, since I could re-enter the US on my other passport. :\
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:53 AM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

We always renewed by mail. Ask them to return the original passport with the application. Your new passport arrives unstamped. You receive a new one next time you entered the US.

The most nerve wracking part is saying goodbye to your passport and being without it. However, I never heard horror stories about this method, and I was in email correspondence with hundreds of Canadians who all did precisely this. Express courier it in.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:06 AM on October 4, 2015

I've renewed my passport several times by mail, including before I had a U.S. passport. If you aren't traveling between now and Jan 2016, you should be fine.
posted by serelliya at 10:13 AM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pretty Photo does do Canadian passport photos. You do mail in renewal from within the US and no, you should not travel out of the US while your passport renewal is pending. There is a place on the passport renewal form to request that they return your old passport with your new one. Make a copy of all pages in the old passport in case something random happens.
posted by tangaroo at 6:59 PM on October 4, 2015

We do ours by mail (courier). It's pricy and we are usually without our passports for 3-4 weeks but it's the easiest way.
posted by saradarlin at 10:14 PM on October 4, 2015

I'm a Canadian living in Minnesota. I've renewed my passport by mail 3 times now, most recently in 2013 (and AFAIC the only good thing that Harper has done is the 10 year expiry for passports now so it should be a while before I have to do it again).

Whoever at Walgreens told you that they couldn't take a Canadian spec passport picture was lying/lazy. Their photo kiosk deallies have a menu for passport pictures, and the operator can choose which country, and the photo will be printed to the appropriate specifications.

The only "tricky" part of the process is getting your references. This used to be a lot harder because you'd need to find guarantors who were Canadians who met certain qualifications (doctors, judges, etc). Now, for a renewal, you just need to find two people (I'm not even sure they need to be Canadian) who have known you for at least 2 years.

You do need to mail/courier in your old passport, you will get it back. When I did it last, I had them back within 8 weeks.

I paid the fee using an American credit card.

The Canadian passport office has a guide (specific to the US) here.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:11 PM on October 5, 2015

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