Officials Considering a ‘Mobile Passport’ for Traveling Canadians

Canadians are becoming convinced that a mobile passport is the future of travel outside the country.

According to a new report from Global News, new public opinion research published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada suggests the officials are currently considering whether Canadian citizens should have the ability to renew their passports via a mobile app.

Through research gathered during 15 separate focus groups held throughout the country earlier this year, Canadian participants were asked what they believed the “passport of the future” would be. Participants were generally enthusiastic about modernizing the passport but were also somewhat wary as to whether there was a possibility of misuse.

“While it is evident that convenience is a primary consideration for participants, so are safeguards related to ensuring the security and privacy of information,” read the report of the findings, prepared for IRCC’s Passport Program.

“Moreover, such concerns cannot be attributed to ‘fear of new technology’ among older participants, as negative reaction to the virtual passport was highest among millennials,” the report continued.

Canada currently uses the ePassport, introduced in 2013, which contains an electronic chip that holds the information of the passport holder. The United States, the United Kingdom, and France, among others, all use similar passport technology.

A mobile or virtual passport, on the other hand, would have the holder use their existing ePassport at the check-in gate, and then setting up facial recognition at further checkpoints, allowing them to keep the document in their bag, for example.

Participants admitted that they would be fine using a passport renewal app or passport stored on their phones, but were less convinced whether the ease of use would be worth security concerns.

Participants also suggested that a mobile app could make traveling easier by “including the Canadian customs eDeclaration, travel advisories, currency conversion calculators, visa requirement information and the ability to register with Canadian embassies and consulates abroad through the app.”

While not yet available in Canada, the United States has officially endorsed an app called Mobile Passport which is currently being used in 25 American airports. The personal data users provide the app is encrypted and stored by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.