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Richmondites frustrated after waiting up to six hours for passport renewals

People waited for hours in the queue on Monday to get into the doors of the Richmond passport office.

People eager to travel abroad now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, might need more patience as long line-ups outside the Richmond passport office are keeping hopeful travellers grounded. 

Anyone who passed the Cooney Road office Monday likely noticed a massive line snaking down the street with people waiting for up to five hours -- and that’s just to get in the doors.

One person emerging from the office said they had waited five hours to get in and another hour once inside the office.

Richmondite Grace Chow said her patience and energy were quickly fading, after standing in line for four hours without eating or drinking anything. 

"I have never waited so long for anyone in my life," sighed Chow, who had taken the day off work to get her passport renewed for a vacation in Hawaii. She said she had no idea it would take so long, adding “now, my whole day is gone.”

She told the News reporter that “the line-up was even more insane around 8 a.m.

“You missed the crazy part," Chow added. 

Another resident who asked to remain anonymous said she had been in line since 8:45 a.m. and three hours later was still metres away from the entrance. 

"I was thinking, by the time I get my feet in the door and hand my documents to the staff, I would probably be dead," laughed the resident, who hopes to visit family in her hometown in the Philippines. 

Adding to the wannabe travellers’ woes, was a heavy downpour around noon, forcing people in the queue to squeeze under the tiny Service Canada building roof -- but no one gave up their spot.

Not everyone in the line was waiting for a passports or passport renewal. Some were international students applying for a social insurance numbers (SIN). 

One international student from India told the News he had waited at least five hours to get his SIN. 

"The problem is they didn't separate the lines. Some are waiting to renew their passports, and others are getting their SIN. 

Regardless, he said he’d heard the line-ups were just as bad elsewhere.

“It's not just happening in Richmond. My friends told me they waited for hours outside another office in Vancouver," said the student. 

On March 31, the federal government warned that “with the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions demand for passports -- both new and renewals -- had started to increased and is returning to pre-pandemic levels. 

"The Government of Canada recommends that Canadians apply early and not finalize any travel plans until they have received their new passport," reads a statement from the federal government's website. 

The News reached out to Service Canada for more details but was told its voicemail boxes are full.