Refusal, revocation, cancellation and suspension of Canadian passports

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is responsible for the Passport Program and has the authorities laid out in the Canadian Passport Order. As of June 23, 2015 in cases involving national security and the prevention of terrorism offences, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has the authority to determine whether to cancel, refuse to issue or revoke a passport and to impose a refusal period for passport services. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship will put these decisions into practice.

Introduction

The denial of passport services is a significant measure. Passport refusal or revocation occurs only when there is sufficient reliable information available to justify the action. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has the authority to refuse to issue, cancel or revoke a Canadian passport as well as the authority to deny the delivery of passport services. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has the authority to decide that a passport is not to be issued, is to be cancelled or is to be revoked, as well as the authority to decide that passport services are not to be delivered in cases of national security and the prevention of terrorism offences.

Passport refusal and revocation

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship may refuse a passport to a person:

  • who is not a Canadian citizen;
  • who provides false information during the passport  application process;
  • who fails to provide a duly-completed application, or the required or requested information and material;
  • who is charged in Canada with the commission of an indictable offence, or a similar offence abroad;
  • who is imprisoned or otherwise forbidden to leave Canada or, being abroad, is imprisoned or otherwise forbidden to leave that country;
  • who is subject to conditions imposed by a court that have the effect of preventing possession of a passport;
  • who has been convicted of a passport offence under the Criminal Code or the equivalent abroad;
  • who owes money to the Crown related to repatriation to Canada or other consular financial assistance;
  • who holds a passport that has not expired or has been revoked; or
  • when reasonable grounds exist to believe that the refusal is necessary to prevent the commission of an offence in relation to sexual offences against children outside Canada.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship may revoke a passport for any of the above-mentioned reasons as well as if someone:

  • uses the passport to assist in committing an indictable offence in Canada or a similar offence abroad;
  • permits another person to use the passport;
  • has obtained the passport by means of false or misleading information; or
  • has ceased to be a Canadian citizen.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship recognizes that the denial of passport services is a significant measure and, therefore, exercises his or her authority to refuse issuance of a passport only when there is sufficient reliable information available to justify the action.

For more detailed information about for the refusal or revocation of passport services, please see: Administrative decision process.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness may decide that a passport is not to be issued or is to be revoked when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the decision is necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorism offence, as defined in Section 2 of the Criminal Code, or for the national security of Canada or a foreign country or state. If the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness decides that a passport is not to be issued or is to be revoked, he or she may decide that passport services are not to be delivered for a period of up to 10 years.

For more detailed information about the cancellation, refusal and revocation of passport services under national security grounds or related to terrorism, please see: National security

Passport cancellation

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship may cancel a passport:

  • if a person is deceased;
  • if a person does not retain custody of the passport;
  • if a person was asked to return the passport under section 11 of the Order but has failed to do so; or
  • when reasonable grounds exist to suspect that cancellation is necessary to prevent the commission of an offence in relation to sexual offences against children outside Canada.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness may decide that a passport is to be cancelled when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the decision is necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorism offence, as defined in Section 2 of the Criminal Code, or for the national security of Canada or a foreign country or state.

Cancellation renders a passport invalid for travel while officials conclude a more comprehensive review to establish whether there are grounds to ultimately revoke the passport. A passport can be cancelled without notice to the bearer in some cases. If there are insufficient grounds to revoke a cancelled passport, a new passport bearing the same expiry date as the cancelled one will be issued to the bearer.

Suspension of passport

A person who fails to pay child support or alimony can be subject to the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistant Act. Under this Act, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship must refuse passport services to individuals subject to that Act and suspend any current passports. For more detailed information about the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistant Act, please see: Part III, Licence Denial.

If a passport is suspended under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistant Act, it must be returned to the Passport Program. If the passport is not returned, it will be cancelled. Once a passport has been cancelled, it cannot be used for travel or reactivated. However, if the suspension ends before the passport is expired, it is returned to the bearer.

Return of a passport (request from the Passport Program)

Canadian passports are the property of the Government of Canada. If a person is requested to return a passport, the passport must be provided to the Passport Program without delay or by the date indicated. If not returned by the stated date, the passport will be cancelled, and law enforcement partners, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and border control agencies, will be informed. In such circumstances, the passport bearer may be subject to investigation and prosecution under the Criminal Code by the police for theft and illegal possession of Government of Canada property.

Please note that a cancelled passport cannot be used for travel or reactivated.

Neither the Passport Program nor any representative of the Government of Canada can be held responsible for problems encountered by people attempting to use a cancelled passport at border crossings.

Request for passport services under urgent, compelling and compassionate considerations

The Passport Program will consider issuing, in special circumstances, a limited-validity travel document (LVTD) to an individual who is subject to an entitlement investigation or a period of refusal of passport services. An LVTD with geographical limitations may be issued to the applicant, provided the Passport Program is satisfied that the reason for the request is urgent, compelling and compassionate. For more detailed information about the request for passport services under urgent, compelling and compassionate grounds, please see: Request for limited-validity travel document under urgent, compelling and compassionate considerations.

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