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My travel plan was to leave on October 27th for Malta and Sicily and return the same year, on November 27th. My passport expired on January 15th the next year, but it had to be valid until January 27th, three months following my departure date of October 27th   for the passport to be valid for my trip. I was missing 12 days

Here’s my story: I arrived at the Ottawa airport at about 2:30 pm on Oct. 27th, in plenty of time for a 4:00 pm flight to Toronto and an international flight from Toronto at 8:00 pm to Paris, then on to Valletta, Malta. While trying to get my boarding pass at the self-serve counter, an ominous note came up on the screen: “Please proceed to the counter for assistance.”

The woman at the Air Canada counter was clear, “You’re not going anywhere until you have a valid passport. There’s a Passport Centre on Meadowlands, which isn’t far from here, you could try to get it renewed.” With baggage and knapsack in hand, I took a taxi to the Passport Centre, got a new photo, filled out the two-page questionnaire, called a friend who was available as a reference (plus her brother).

Could I please be fast-tracked through the passport line-up as I had a 5:00 pm flight to Toronto. “Nope, take a number and get in line.” In tears, I waited for my number to be called. I needed moral support, so called my friend who had acted as a reference. She said, “Don’t give up, you’re going to make it.” Finally they called my number with a passport that was renewed for ten years at a cost of $250.

The clerk warned me, “Don’t sign the passport until you get to the airport, the ink will smear.”A taxi got me to the airport too late for my 4:00 pm flight, but I was able to book the last seat on a 5:00 pm flight to Toronto. Once there, we were delayed15 minutes on the tarmac. Yes, I was sweating bullets, but finally made it to the departure lounge for my 8:00 pm flight to Paris, a flight that was delayed by 20 minutes…

About passports: The same three-month rule applies to 26 European countries; A valid passport is required for three months from date of departure. For many other destinations it is six months after date of departure. Go to https://travel.gc.ca/ for more info on passports and travel abroad for Canadians.