Every year many Canadians hop on a plane to teach English to people in other countries. Arienne Parzei is one of those Canadians who moved to South Korea in August of 2009 to teach English to middle school children. She wanted to experience living abroad and to try her hand at teaching. But living outside of Canada for two years, can make tasks like renewing your passport a tricky one. So Arienne shares with us her steps and tips for renewing your passport while abroad:
Making sure your passport is valid for 6 months when you travel is extremely important. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Most countries won’t allow you entrance unless there’s enough valid time left on your passport. So know when your passport expires! The Canadian government has recently simplified the process for people who have to renew their passport in Canada. It’s quite painless and effortless now. All you have to do is fill out the simplified application form, get 2 new passport photos, march into a passport office with your current valid passport (rules are slightly different for expired passports of over 1 year) and fee, and apply in person for a new one. No more submitting proof of Canadian citizenship or hunting down guarantors.
But if you’re like me and have been living outside of Canada for a while (Korea for the last 20 months), things aren’t quite so easy. I discovered a few months ago that my passport would expire around the time Tristan and I are planning to wrap up our long-term backpacking trip, thus leaving me with no 6 month valid period. So I realized I had to renew my passport before we embarked on our trip. I have to admit that when I first set out to renew my passport in Korea it almost seemed easier to fly back to Canada to do it! But a lot of research, emails, and general internet searches later I finally figured out what I had to do. It’s not impossible to renew your passport abroad, but it requires some effort, planning and a bigger wallet on your part.
To make it easier for you, I’ve broken down what you’ll require and need to do to renew your passport while you’re outside of Canada:
1. Download Paperwork
Download the PPTC040 application form for renewing your passport while abroad. Fill out the necessary fields; name, date of birth, proof of identification, references, address history, and guarantor. If you have a guarantor (someone who has known you for at least 2 years, whose occupation falls into certain categories, think lawyer, doctor, police officer, AND lives in the jurisdiction you’ll be renewing your passport in, ie the city/country you’re in) then skip to step number 3.
2. No Guarantor? No Problem
Chances are you won’t have someone you know who qualifies to be a guarantor. But fear not, there’s a way around this. You’ll have to fill out another form instead. Unfortunately you can only get this form through your local consulate or embassy, it can’t be downloaded. But you should prepare the information they’ll want you to fill out before hand. Here are the things you’ll want to prepare prior to renewing your passport so you’re not stuck scratching your head trying to fill it out on the spot:
•5 years of employment or educational history (essentially where have you been working or going to school during the past 5 years). You’ll need the company/school name, address, phone number, dates employed/at school and the nature of your employment/education.
•5 years of address history
•2 additional references (not the same as the ones in your application form), so a total of 4 references. Again you’ll need your reference name, address, phone number, email address (optional), relation and number of years known. Note that your references cannot be family members.
Make it easy for yourself and type all this up in a nice document and bring it with you when you go to renew your passport. If you’re a freelancer like me and have a page long list of employers over the past 5 years, you can probably even just attach your write up to the application and save time trying to fit all the information into the tiny boxes.
3. Take New Passport Photos
Get 2 new passport photos taken as per the usual requirements and have the photo studio either stamp their address and date taken, or write it on the back. In fact bring a couple extra just in case.
4. Present Your Birth Certificate
If you’re a Canadian citizen by birth, you’ll have to present your original birth certificate when you go to renew your passport. I decided (for security reasons) not to bring or travel with my original birth certificate. To get around this, you’ll have to get a family member or friend to fax a copy of your birth certificate from a passport office in Canada. But wait until you get a file number for your application after you’ve applied to renew your passport at the consulate or embassy. You’ll want your file number referenced when you get your birth certificate faxed.
5. Have Cash on Hand
Chances are you’ll have to pay your renewal in cash. Consulates and Embassies that do passport services will have a section on their websites outlining all their fees. So have your cash ready to go before you renew your passport. For myself the passport renewal was 115,000won plus 57,500won to have my “in lieu of guarantor” form notarized. Yes it’s substantially more expensive than doing it back in Canada, but that’s just the way it is.
6. Locate Your Nearest Embassy
Find out where your nearest consulate or embassy is (easiest to type in “Canadian Embassy in [insert city name]” into Google Maps) and note their hours of operation. If you’ll be traveling a great distance you may even want to call and book an appointment to avoid having to wait to be seen. At the consulate or embassy you’ll have to present your application form (and fill out the additional “in lieu of guarantor” form if you don’t have a guarantor), your current valid passport, 2 new passport photos, your birth certificate, and your payment. You’ll get a receipt and can choose to either pick up or have your passport mailed back to you. Processing times vary, but the standard time is about 2-3 weeks. Of course you can pay extra to have your renewal expedited.
Please check out the Canadian Government’s website about all things relating to passports as well as the individual consulate or embassy’s website that pertains to the city or country you’ll be renewing your passport in. There’s always contact information listed, so when in doubt pick up the phone or shoot an email.
Please Note: This post relates to those carrying a Canadian passport. It is intended to help and guide those who are faced with renewing their passport outside of Canada. We strongly encourage you to get in contact with your nearest consult or embassy and double check all your requirements to ensure a smooth renewal process. For more information about passports or working holiday visas, contact one of our Flight Centre agents at 1-866-502-4605