What documents serve as official IDs in Canada

If you are living in Canada or you were born in this country, you will need to hold at least one Identity Document with which you can prove that you are a legal Canadian citizen or resident.

This ID will also come in handy for many different activities or projects, for example: to travel outside the country, to obtain your driving licence, to get your SIN (Social Insurance Number), and for many other administrative procedures of your everyday life.

You will find below a list of the main Identity Documents that are valid in Canada, and an overview of how to obtain them.


1) Regular passport

This passport comes in blue color and it is for Canadian citizens only. Its validity depends on the age of the passport holder:

  • Adults starting from 16 years or older can choose a 5-year or 10-year passport
  • Children aged 0 to 15 years are issued passports for a maximum of 5 years


To apply for a Canadian passport, you’ll need to:

  1. Fill out an application form: Adult passport application, or Child passport application.
  2. Get your supporting documents and passport photos.
  3. Find a guarantor and 2 references.
  4. Find out how to submit your application and fees.

The cost for a 1st Canadian passport is:

5-year adult passport (age 16 or over)            120$

10-year adult passport (age 16 or over)          160$

Child passport (0 to 15 years of age)              57$


To renew your Canadian passport, you must be in possession of your current one, which must cover the following conditions:

  • Not be damaged
  • Not have been reported lost or stolen
  • Have been issued with a 5-year or 10-year validity
  • Have been issued when you were at least 16 years of age
  • Have the same name, date of birth and place of birth you want on your new passport
  • Have the same gender identifier you want on your new passport (either printed on your current passport or the observation sticker)
  • Have expired on or after February 1, 2019

You will need to:

  1. Fill out the Adult renewal application form.
  2. Get your supporting documents and passport photos.
  3. Find 2 references.
  4. Submit your application and fees to the corresponding office.

The cost to renew a passport is 110$.

2) Temporary passport

This is a white-colored passport for Canadian citizens with an urgent and proven need for a passport and waiting for a regular, special, or diplomatic passport.

Please note: not all foreign countries recognize the temporary passport. Remember to check before your departure whether it applies to the country your visiting or not.

The issuing office decides how long the passport is valid, to a maximum of 1 year.

How to exchange the temporary passport to another Canadian passport?

You can exchange your passport following one of these three procedures:

In person or by mail at the following:

  • The full-service Canadian mission closest to your place of residence,
  • The mission where you applied for your regular, diplomatic, or special passport.

In person at a passport issuing authority in Canada:

A fee of C$20 applies if you follow this process by mail (inside Canada).

A third party can exchange passports for you, if he or she has:

  • A valid piece of identification,
  • A written authorization from you.

3) Diplomatic passport

It is a brown-colored passport for diplomats, high-ranking Government of Canada officials and representatives and delegates of the Government of Canada. It can be used for:

  • A post abroad,
  • International governmental organizations and conferences of a diplomatic nature.

The issuing office decides the validity period.

4) Special passport

It’s a green-colored passport for Senators, Members of Parliament and people employed by the Government of Canada who are in a non-diplomatic capacity, and travelling to a post abroad or on an official mission.

The issuing office decides the validity period.

5) Emergency travel documents

The emergency travel document is issued to Canadian citizens who are abroad, and for emergency only (for example: if they have a lost or stolen passport). When there is no possibility for them to get a temporal passport, this document can be issued by the Canadian government offices abroad. It can be used to:

  • Return directly to Canada,
  • Return to your country of residence, or
  • Travel to a Canadian government office abroad that offers full passport services.

The issuing office decides the validity period (usually 1 month).

6) The PR card, also called the Maple Leaf card

The first Permanent Resident (PR) cards were distributed on June 28, 2002. Similarly to a passport, this document allows its holder to prove its status, but it is issued by the office of Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to Canadian permanent residents.

It costs $50 per new application and its validity is of 5 years.


It will take 83 days for you to replace your PR Card, and 129 days to get a new one.

In your application, you will need to include the following documents:

  • A clear copy of your valid passport or travel document,
  • Two identity photos,
  • A solemn declaration if your PR card was lost, stolen, destroyed,
  • A copy of the current PR Card.

For more information on this procedure, you can visit this link.


These documents are issued for people with a protected status, that is:

  • Convention refugees
  • People in need of protection

If you live in Canada as a refugee, you may ask for a refugee travel document to be allowed to travel to other countries, except your country of citizenship. The issuing office will decide on the validity period.


1) Certificate of identity

This document is issued to permanent residents of Canada who aren’t yet Canadian citizens:

  • They are stateless.
  • They can’t get a national passport or travel document from any source for a valid reason.

2) Travel document for a child under the age of 16

You can apply for a travel document for your child under the age of 16 if you are:

  • One of the child’s parents and showing proof of parentage,
  • The child’s legal guardian and providing proof of legal guardianship, or
  • The child’s custodial parent in case of separation or divorce and providing all legal documents.

We hope you find this information useful and that you can start as soon as possible your procedure to request your most-suitable ID document.

Administrative Procedures in other countries:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *