Ontario winters feel like ten months of torture. I have dreams of playing poolside with my family in a sunny location, or being on the beach with our feet in the sand. But before this dream (and my kid) can take flight, I need to wait in a very long line at a government office.
That’s right, it’s passport time for my 6-month old daughter Lia.
Here are five tips to share after going through the Canadian passport application process with my little one.
1. The Government of Canada has an awesome website for all things passport.
It’s true. The site has everything you need to know about the do’s and don’ts for passport photos and the passport application. Download the children’s passport application, find out who can be a guarantor, it’s all there. Note the website’s separate section for children (vs. Adults).
2. Go. To. Walmart.
Getting a photo of your babe that meets all of the Passport Canada requirements is no easy task. Eyes open, neutral facial expression, closed mouth. Good luck. But, my two experiences at Walmart (Queensway location in Etobicoke) have been nothing short of fantastic. The photography associates are friendly, knowledgeable about the requirements, and oh so PATIENT.
3. It’s all about the outfit.
What your child wears for passport photos matters. Why? Because you may need to get creative to get that perfect pic. To sit Lia upright for the camera, I balanced her on my knees and had a tight grip on the back of her onesie to steady her – all while leaning back to ensure I was out of the camera’s view. Overalls on her would have been perfect. Little did I know.
4. Bring some blankets.
This relates to the wardrobe item above. If your baby isn’t holding their head up yet, you will need to do it for them. The blanket can be strategically draped to hide your wrist and hand in the shot. The Government of Canada website suggests infants can sit in their car seat to get their photo taken. But it’s difficult to meet all of the criteria going this route (face and shoulders to the camera, straight on, with no shadows on the shoulders or over the ears).
5. Leave baby at home.
Photos all done? Great. Guess what…you don’t have to bring your baby with you to the passport office to apply for the document. I didn’t know this and dragged Lia with me. Much easier navigating the passport office (and the lines, and the wait times) solo. West-enders: the Passport Canada office in Central Parkway Mall in Mississauga has been good to me during the day. Tolerable wait times.
Children’s passports are valid for five years. And remember that passports take approximately two weeks to process, so be sure to plan ahead.
Next up is applying for Lia’s Nexus card. Then hopefully we’ll hit the beach. Or maybe just some cross-border shopping. Target anyone?
Written by Mommy Connections alumni Anita Saxby
Anita is a communications professional currently working in the health care industry. Her gift of the gab especially comes in handy when negotiating with her 2-year-old son, Matthew. Anita is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Lia and enjoying every moment. A tried-and-true west-ender, Anita is thrilled her family of 4 has settled into beautiful Etobicoke.