Passport application backlog leads to people waiting in line for others, for a fee

Jun 14, 2022 | News

Health and safety coordinator Shantel Reece wants to vacation in Jamaica this summer. But she can’t because her passport expired and the backlog caused by passport applications following COVID-19 means she may miss her trip.

But Reece may have found a solution, albeit an expensive one.

A surge in passport applications at Service Canada has inspired people to advertise to stand in line for those who do not want to wait. For a fee, of course.

With sometimes hours-long waits at passport offices, online ads have appeared offering people to wait in line for the applicant. Prices range from anywhere from $20 to $50 per hour.

When the surrogate nears the front of the line, they will text or call

“No more waiting in line for anything! Passport, city, MTO, restaurants, we’ve got you covered,” an ad offering the stand-in service in Peel Region. “I can wait in line for you anywhere in GTA at passport offices, service Ontario, and DriveTest centers and anywhere else for a small fee. Once I’m close to the front of the line, I can send you a text or picture and that’s it! Easy peasy.

“Rate is $40/hr for a minimum of two hours in Mississauga, outside of Mississauga is minimum 3 hours flat rate. Cash preferred,” the ad says.

Reece has recently tried to get her passport but with long working hours, she was not able to get to the passport office early enough.

After looking on Kijiji, she decided to pay someone to wait in line for her instead.

“I think this service is desperately needed by a lot of people,” she said.

Reece needed her passport within a week to ensure she made her upcoming trip to Jamaica,

“Time is very valuable and many people do not have the luxury of being able to miss out on work to wait in the line,” she said.

Reece ended up paying $200 to a line stand-in who was in the line from 8 a.m until 1 p.m.

Reece was able to leave work early and get to the front of the line to continue the process.

In a statement issued by Employment and Social Development Canada it offered this insight:

  • Passport applications should be submitted well in advance of making travel plans.
  • Anyone travelling within two business days must go to a passport office (Service Canada Centre – Passport Service) offering urgent pickup service. No appointment is needed and a proof of travel or need is required.
  • Anyone travelling within 45 business days must go to a passport
    office (Service Canada Centre – Passport Service) with a proof of

“I am very grateful that I was able to get my passport in time. If this option was not available, I would not know what to do,” Reece said.