Step 1: Go online and fill out application (easy).
Fun fact: the non-applicant parent can be a guarantor. I.E. If you are a mom applying on behalf of your child, your spouse/partner can be the guarantor (I find it best that we make sure to be 100% clear when it comes to filling out government forms)
Step 2: Get your baby a passport photo (perhaps not so easy).
This involves finding a passport photo place that knows how to do this. So a hard no to places like Costco or Shoppers Drug Mart (although some apparently do newborn photos. I called ahead, was told they were able, bundled my baby in the car, drove through heavy weekend traffic, parked, struggled with stroller, and made my way into the store. They did NOT know how to take newborn photos despite minutes earlier telling me they could. Rage.)
Why do they have to know what they are doing? Well, the Government of Canada has strict rules on these pictures that involve having the baby’s eyes open and no hands (i.e. your hands propping them up) in the photo.
I took Alice to Still Images in Toronto and they were fantastic! Sat her in a bumbo chair, had a puppet to look at – the works. Pay more for a good photo place that specializes in passport photos for babies in order to guarantee your photo will be accepted (as you will not want to repeat the steps below).
Step 3: Gather all the documents you need for application.
There is a new ‘proof of parentage’ document required.
This is the child’s LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE. When you apply for a birth certificate, you are asked if you want just the short form free one or pay an additional fee for the long form as well. Get both. Obviously.
Step 4: Re-read application 5 times to make sure you have everything (again, you do not want to repeat the steps below).
Step 5: Be a smart parent and mail the application in.
Wait for 3-4 weeks and voila! Your child is ready for international jet setting.
Five easy steps! Oh wait, I said fifty right?
That’s right. Because I am a dummy.
Why am I a dummy? I planned a trip to the States that was occurring in three weeks and realized I needed a passport for Alice ASAP. Therefore I needed to apply for her passport in person.
AVOID THESE STEPS AT ALL COSTS!!
.Step 6: Clear an entire morning in order to trek to passport office.
Step 7: Pack a bag with snacks for toddler, books to entertain toddler, and stickers to placate toddler when snacks and books don’t work. You could also skip this step and just pack the iPad.
Step 8: Plan to leave your house in enough time to get to the office for opening (usually 8 AM) – which for us would be leaving the house at 7:30.
Step 8: Leave three hours later that you planned.
Step 9: Decide to go to a further passport office because (a) you think it might be less busy and (b) your children have fallen asleep (this can be avoided if you do not leave house three hours later than planned).
Fun fact: (a) is not true. Passport offices are busy everywhere.
Step 10: Locate a Starbucks drive-through and fill up on caffeine.
Step 11: Reach passport office and transfer sleeping baby, sleepy/cranky toddler and giant bag full of snacks to your stroller.
Step 12: Go into passport office. Ideally in a sad, suburban mall where the only stores are discount ones selling factory seconds of shoes and a Mariposa.
Step 13: Realize you have forgotten application for passport in the car (this is much better than forgetting at home!).
Step 14: Go back to car and retrieve passport. You might want to combine placating toddler with goldfish snacks in this step.
Step 15: Wait in line to get a number to wait in another line.
Yes. You read correctly.
A line for a line.
Step 16: Silently congratulate yourself when the mother in front of you is turned away and told to go get her long form birth certificate.
Step 17: Verbally congratulate yourself when number-giving lady says all forms are in order and the picture is acceptable. You have the go-ahead to proceed to the next line!
Step 18: Weave massive double stroller through a myriad of individuals also waiting for their passports. Combine ‘thinking of what to do for 45 minutes’ in this step.
Step 19: Go to the bathroom with still sleeping baby and goldfish-snacking toddler. In this step you may discover a tiny, cramped washroom in which you will have to sing to your children through the door as you pee.
Step 20: Head to coffee shop for more caffeine and perhaps a donut for your toddler (and obviously yourself). Healthy snacks be damned!
Step 21: Realize you have lost your number.
Step 22: Shove donut into toddler’s mouth as bribery to stay in stroller as you frantically search for lost number.
Step 23: Head back to passport office, passing the mother you secretly scorned for not having long form birth certificate and think how karma is a bitch.
Step 24: Wait in number line again.
Step 25: With much enthusiasm and happiness, discover you have left your number, A51, at the counter and all is well. You do not have to reset your 45 (now turned an hour for the people behind you) wait.
Step 26: Discover you still have twenty minutes to kill.
Step 27: Decide to take toddler to the mall’s $1 truck rides. Do NOT at this point tell toddler that they move if you put money in the slot.
(a) they are just happy to sit in a non-moving red truck or spaceship and
(b) once they find out it, and others like it, move, they will always want them to move and
(c) you probably don’t have a loonie on you anyways.
Step 28: Place the now awake and screaming baby into your carrier while toddler pretends to fly in space.
Step 29: Drag toddler out of spaceship or red truck while bouncing the still screaming baby while you promise more donuts to go back to passport office.
Step 30: See that you have made good time! A49 has just been called so you are very soon. Settle in to short wait by giving toddler a book to read.
Step 31: Chase toddler who realizes a book is no replacement for a spaceship and is hightailing it out of office.
Step 32: Wrangle toddler in stroller with seat belt and more donut. Baby hopefully has now settled and is cooing softly.
Step 33: Silently congratulate yourself on good timing as A50 is called.
Step 34: Silently curse when your baby makes a loud, and somewhat smelly, deposit in their diaper.
Hold strong! Although you know this to be a poonami that is staining your shirt as you wait, you cannot, will not, give up on this passport line.
Your number is next and no amount of poop can hold you back.
Step 35: Hand over and pay for passport application. Smile nicely as if you don’t smell of poop.
Step 36: Leave passport office and think quickly about where you can change the poonami mess.
From earlier experience, you know the bathroom to be too small and cramped. Therefore you decide to do the next best thing: go to space. Which really means use the floor next to the mall rides. This actually does two things: entertains toddler and gives you a bit of privacy between the glitter painted vehicles.
Step 37: Put toddler in the spaceship. Place stroller in strategic spot which somewhat hides what you are about to do.
Step 38: Contemplate floor and decide that the dirty mall floor is better than sitting on own poop. Use a wipe to quickly clean small floor space.
Step 39: Set up your change mat, diapers and wipes on floor. Take baby out of carrier and survey damage.
As you thought, her entire outfit is now a mess, your shirt has poop polka dots and the carrier is a write-off.
Get more wipes out of bag.
Step 40: Help toddler out of spaceship and into red truck. Also give him the apple slices he is now demanding.
Step 41: Strip baby.
If you are lucky you have a wet bag in your diaper bag for dirty clothes. If you are not lucky, you have dog bags. Discard of poop-ridden clothing. Wipe down baby.
Do NOT make eye contact with the old couple strolling past you on their way to discount shoe store.
Step 42: Dress baby in spare clothes (silently high-five yourself for remembering these! Although they may be one month too small, they are still clean and do the trick).
Step 42: Transfer toddler from red truck to blue car. Wipe down the apple he has spit all over the truck.
Step 43: Place now happy baby back in car seat and buckle her in tightly. Discard of pile of poopy wipes and diaper.
Step 44: Beg toddler to get out of play car to go to the real car and leave this godforsaken mall all ready.
Step 45: Stay at blue car for another ten minutes.
Step 46: Lure toddler away from blue car via combination of donut crumbs, goldfish and the promise of driving the real car (aka sitting in the driver’s seat honking the horn).
Step 47: Bundle toddler up and fasten belt in the stroller, arrange your scarf to cover poop stain on your shirt, and head out of the mall/passport office. You are free!
Step 48: Get more coffee because you are very tired.
Step 49: Place children, stroller and rumble seat in the car. Buckle your belt and start car.
Step 50: Your toddler informs you he is pooping. Go back to step 39 and repeat.
So there you have it. The Fifty steps to getting a passport for your baby. Do you need a cocktail? Because I do. I feel the book I placed in my diaper bag believing I might be able to read while we waited was what cursed us from the beginning.
Oh I haven’t even told you the best part yet: I went to the office because we were planning a trip down to the States within a few weeks. We cancelled that. So I still haven’t needed her passport yet.