A former colleague once spent several weeks anxiously anticipating a trip to Florida, only to be turned away at the airport because her passport had expired.
If you're planning a family getaway this winter, now is a good time to check everyone's passports in case they need to be renewed.
As of July 1, the cost of a five-year Canadian passport has increased to $120 from $87 for adults (16 and older) and $57 from $37 for children (newborn to 15).
A new 10-year ePassport, also known as the biometric passport, is also available for $160. For adults only, it looks the same as a regular passport book, but inside, it has an electronic chip encoded with all of the personal information (name, date of birth, gender, etc.) found on page 2 of a paper passport, plus a digital photo of the passport user.
Guidelines for the passport photo are very specific:
The photo must be taken straight on in front of a plain or light-coloured background.
No smiling is allowed -- neutral expressions only -- and your mouth must be closed and eyes opened. Think mug shot.
No hats or dark-lens glasses can be worn and your face can't be obstructed in any way by your hair or clothing.
Even the slightest smudge or glare from the camera flash is prohibited.
The name of the photo studio and the date the photo was taken must be on the back of the photo.
You don't need to spend big dollars to have a professional portrait taken. Several department stores, grocery chains and specialty camera shops offer walk-in passport photo services.
We compared prices:
Loblaws and Walmart: $9.99
Shoppers Drug Mart: $10.99
Sears (searsportrait.ca): $17.99
Black's (blacks.ca): $21.99
To renew or apply for a passport, you can go to any Passport Canada or Service Canada office, mail your application to the central Passport Canada office in Gatineau or go online to passportcanada.gc.ca.
Barring any problems with the information or passport photo provided, expect anywhere from 10 to 20 business days for your application to be processed.
-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013