Providing false information in a passport application, for the sake of expediency or to conceal material facts, may at times be tempting. Maybe you do not have time to verify the required information or to obtain signatures. Maybe you are in a rush to complete the application or have a misunderstanding of the required information, inadvertently providing false information. Many Canadians may not see this as a big deal as it is just a passport application.
The fact is: serious consequences can arise from knowingly or unknowingly providing false information in a passport application.
The consequences should have individuals thinking twice before submitting an application that could contain false or misleading information.
The Canadian Passport Order provides Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with broad powers to revoke or suspend passport services for the provision of false or erroneous information in a passport application. This power captures the deliberate provision of false or misleading information in a passport application, the accidental provision of false or misleading information in a passport application, and the failure to complete a passport application in full.
Where IRCC finds an applicant has provided false or erroneous information, it can suspend services for up to 10 years.
When IRCC suspects false or misleading information in a passport application, it may request follow up information. If the applicant refuses to comply and provide that further information, the passport application may be considered incomplete, allowing Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada to suspend passport services to the applicant for up to 10 years. It can also revoke any existing passport.
A suspension or revocation of passport services will effectively bar travel outside of Canada. Moreover, where a service suspension applies to a parent or legal guardian, it will prevent applications for a passport on behalf of his or her child.
In addition to the regulatory consequences for providing false or misleading information in a passport application, section 57(2) of the Criminal Code criminalizes the intentional provision of false or misleading information for the purpose of procuring a passport. Unlike the regulatory consequences, which can arise from unintentionally providing false information, to be found criminally liable, one must knowingly provide false or misleading information.
Individuals found guilty of knowingly providing false or misleading information for the purposes of procuring a passport face up to two years’ imprisonment.
These criminal sanctions can be applied in addition to the regulatory sanctions already outlined above.
There can be serious regulatory and criminal consequences for knowingly providing false or misleading information in a passport application. This can be a loss of your existing passport, a suspension of future passport services, and possible jail time. In situations where false or misleading information is provided unknowingly, the regulatory consequences of passport revocation and service suspension are still possible.
The legislative framework places an extremely high standard on applicants to make sure the information they provide in a passport application is correct and that materials are properly executed.
If you are ever facing a suspicion or allegation of providing false or misleading information in a passport application, you should seek legal advice on how to best navigate the situation.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.