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Richmondite waited hours in rain to renew passport but still got turned away

Have you renewed your passport yet?
People lined up outside Richmond's Service Canada office to get their passports renewed.

After standing in line outside the Richmond passport office for over three hours but being turned away last week, a Richmond News reader learned a tough lesson: only urgent travellers are being served at present.

“It was a pretty rainy day, everyone needed to stand and hide under the little canopy,” said Tanya Tang who stood in line since 6:30 a.m. on May 12 to renew her passport.

“By the time I got into the building, they (Services Canada staff) said they weren’t accepting walk-ins for people who are travelling past June,” Tang recalled. 

Tang was later told by the employees that only urgent travellers would be served and they won’t accept walk-ins until mid-May. 

However, she said the definition of urgent is unclear. 

“Most people didn’t know if urgent meant within 48 hours or the next 25 days. I just felt a lot of miscommunications between the employees not being very organized,” added Tang. 

The News has reached out to Service Canada for further comments but hasn’t got any replies. 

Service Canada’s website suggests travellers who don’t have travel plans in the next two weeks to call them instead. 

“We’re experiencing very high call volumes right now. Wait times are longer than usual. If you do not have travel plans in the next 2 weeks, we suggest you wait to call us,” read the website. 

A spokesperson for Employment and Social Development (ESDC) previously told Glacier Media that their “focus during this time is on ensuring anyone with travel in 25 days is prioritized for service.”

To avoid long lines, ESDC advises people with no imminent travel to “apply by visiting any of over 300 Service Canada centres.”

Tang said she planned to visit the passport office to try her luck again following the May long weekend. 

-with files from Carol Eugene Park/Glacier Media