One senior is offended and calls Passport Canada "asinine" after the agency suggested seniors and low-income Canadians could avoid the 2013 passport fee increase by simply not travelling abroad.
“I think Passport Canada has shown quite incredible insensitivity and really disrespect to the seniors’ community," said Larry Duffield, chair of the senior advisory committee in Windsor, Ont. "I don’t think they appreciate the difficulties that seniors have in trying to make ends meet when they’re on relatively fixed incomes."
Passport Canada acknowledges the increases may be too much of a burden for seniors or low-income Canadians, and also suggest they use alternative documents.
The cost of getting a five-year Canadian passport will jump to $120 in July from the current price of $87.
As a 70-year-old with family in the U.S. Duffield travels across the border as many as three times a week.
Passport an 'essential document'
“For us that passport is an essential document and we use it regularly," said Duffield. "It just was disrespectful and insensitive and dismissive of the situation that many seniors face."
Children's passports will cost $57, up from the current fee of $37.
Without the fee increases, Passport Canada says it would not be able to maintain current operations, introduce a 10-year e-Passport and keep pace with technological advances.
The e-Passport looks like a regular passport booklet, but contains an electronic chip that holds all the personal information listed on the second page of the document.
The chip, which is already being used in dozens of other countries, can be read by border authorities to confirm the passport is valid.
The agency is also going to start offering those 10-year passports this July, at a cost of $160.
Increase cost burden for seniors
Even a one-time expense of $160 once every 10 years can be a burden for seniors, Duffield said.
"They’re going to have to forgo expenses of another kind or cut back on expenses of another kind which may be really quite essential like food or rent or their regular monthly expense," said Duffield. "Not a lot of seniors are putting away and saving at this point in their lives, they’re pretty well maxed on what their income is.”
Duffield said Passport Canada must not have put much thought into its statement.
"The whole concept of suggesting to seniors not to travel and stay at home is completely contrary to the idea of active and healthy lifestyle that the government is supposed to be promoting, which includes travel," said Duffield.
Earlier on HuffPost:
If you've gotten married or changed your name for other reasons and it says so on other official documents, like driver's licenses, it's recommended to order a new passport in your new name -- otherwise you might encounter problems at the border.
If there's an error printed on your passport -- either due to your mistake or the government's -- don't just try to book tickets under your misspelled name. Get that mistake fixed, or it can come back to haunt you in a foreign country, far from any embassy, if they ask for further identification.
If you're a frequent traveller, you know the panic of running out of space in your passport because its expiration date -- but whatever you do, don't add in pages yourself, as they'll be seen as invalid. Passports with more pages can be ordered when you get your passport (for an additional cost).
Although one news story earlier this one told of <a href="http://digitaljournal.com/article/317257" target="_hplink">a man who used a scanned version of his passport on his iPad to enter the United States</a>, that practice generally won't work at most borders. Always have the physical document with you.
Covering The Passport
Putting anything on your passport as a covering material is not legal in most countries (note: the stickers depicted here are usually placed there by airline employees, and just fine).
Stamps For Certain Countries
This one's a bit more detailed, but there's long been rumours about stamps from certain countries making it impossible to cross borders into other ones -- Israel is one country that often crops up in these discussions. A thread on <a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1977291" target="_hplink">Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum discusses this in detail</a>, but one option is asking Israel border guards - who are familiar with the issue -- not to stamp your passport in the first place.
Most people know not to travel with an expired passport, but some countries are even stricter in their regulations, requiring that a passport be valid for up to six months once you're entered their territory. Be sure to check specifics for any location -- a good list of <a href="http://traveltips.usatoday.com/countries-require-six-months-passport-validity-100788.html" target="_hplink">countries that enforce the rule is found here</a>.
Even if some countries have different regulations about their passport pictures (for example, some nations still allow for smiles in the shots), it's a good idea to adhere to international regulations for photos. A full list of <a href="http://www.ppt.gc.ca/info/photos.aspx?lang=eng" target="_hplink">requirements for Canadian passport photos can be found here</a>.
Watch out for that pool! Water damage, even a small amount, can render a passport invalid, and because it's difficult to predict how stringent particular border guards will be, it's a good idea to replace it even if it's only a few drops.
Pages that are ripped are considered to be damaged when it comes to passports. This is particular the case on the photo page, where airline staff might suspect falsified photos or details.