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Update: ePassports Available in Spring 2013

In a previous Slaw post [1] we discussed growing privacy concerns raised by the features used to enhance security measures for the new Canadian electronic passports. The ePassport is being designed to limit flight fraud, to reduce identity theft, and to meet international counter-terrorism measures already in use in travel documents in over 60 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Australia and Israel. As we previously stated, the Canadian ePassport will have an electronic chip embedded in the back cover that stores personal information of the passport holder, including a photo — effectively the same information found on page 2 of the passport. A country-specific digital security feature will also be stored in the chip, verifying the authenticity of the ePassport, as generated by the Government of Canada.

On October 26, 2012, the government confirmed a few more changes anticipated with the ePassport. One change will be the new option to choose to buy the ePassport for either five or 10-year periods.

The first 5-year ePassports will be issued in select Passport Canada offices during the first quarter of 2013. Production will ramp up through the spring, resulting in the full availability of both a 5- and 10- year e-Passport on July 1, 2013.

The passport application process will not change significantly when the ePassport is introduced. However, the service fees will change.

A five-year passport fee will be $120, up from the current $87, and $160 for the 10-year option. Passports for children will be $57, an increase of $20 and will only be issued/renewed for five years.

For those applying outside of Canada, the fee will be $190 for a five-year passport – up from $97 – and $260 for the document that would be valid for 10 years.

The new ePassport will include various images relating to Canadian heritage and history. The images can be previewed here [2].

If you could, do you think you would opt for an ePassport? How would you weigh the convenience against the potential privacy concerns and changes in cost?