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Canadian government admits new passports susceptible to curling

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Stephane Lapensee and his daughter had been in the Netherlands for a few days when they noticed something unusual about their new Canadian passports: the covers had curled up and become deformed.

“Looks like something coming out of a washing machine,” the former Ottawa resident told CTVNews.ca.

Lapensee and his daughter had received their new passports just four days before they noticed the documents were damaged.

“I never had any issue with the old passport before with this type of curling,” he said. “The old passport still remains quite sturdy and stiff.”

The new Canadian passports are sensitive to heat and humidity due to the way they've been manufactured, which could result in the curling of the covers, a spokesperson from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told CTVNews.ca in an email.

“The previous generation of passports contained an additional layer (in the cover) in order to protect the electronic chip," IRCC said.

With the new passports, the electronic chip made out of polycarbonate materials is located in the data page, meaning this page is sturdy, while the cover is thinner.

The curling of the cover does not impact the functionality and durability of the passport, according to IRCC.

Although IRCC said a curled passport is still valid, Lapensee, who works at the European Space Agency representing Canada, said he feels it is not acceptable for an official document.

“I find it a bit shameful that I have to present this type of passport to officials or if I go to companies and so on,” he said.

Four Canadian passports placed vertically in a row showing the new generation spread as an accordion compared to the older version with a stiffer look on Aug. 28, 2023. (Submitted by Stephane Lapensee)

In May, IRCC and the Canadian Bank Note Company revealed the controversial design for the new generation of Canada’s passports. At the time, they said of the redesign that it is an international best practice to update passports every five to 10 years to improve security features.

As of Aug.23, approximately 15,600 new generation passports have been issued, and only three official complaints have been received regarding the curling of the cover, said IRCC.

Other countries, such as Australia, have recently updated their passports, and citizens there reported similar issues with the covers.

To prevent damages to the paper-based document, the IRCC gave the following advice: “It is recommended that the passport be securely stored, with the booklet closed, in a cool and dry location, such as a filing cabinet, personal safe, or a bank safety deposit box.”

When travelling, or in between uses, the Australian government recommends storing its similar passport in an “envelope or passport holder,” according to its official website.

While some may wonder whether the issue with the passport cover could lead to those documents being recalled, in Canada at least, "as there are no defects, there are no plans to recall the new passports," IRCC said.

Have you had any issues with your new Canadian passport? Share your story and send us photos by emailing dotcom@bellmedia.ca with your name, location and phone number. Your comments may be used in a CTVNews.ca story.

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