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Why can’t you pay cash at a passport office?

Wed., June 8, 2011timer2 min. read

I’m getting close to the five-year deadline to renew my passport. So I had my photos taken ($20 at Black’s) and headed off to the passport office in downtown Toronto.

At a preliminary screening, the clerk warned me not to forget my middle name on the application. Then she asked, “Do you have a credit card or debit card? You need one to get a passport.”

Yes, this government agency won’t accept Canadian currency in the form of dollars and cents.

“Cash is not an acceptable method of payment,” says a Passport Canada brochure on the keys to a successful application.

While using my debit card to pay $87 for a renewed passport, I chatted up the counter clerk.

“Don’t some people object to the no-cash policy?” I asked.

“Yes, we do get complaints,” she admitted.

There’s another accepted method of payment. You can leave the passport office and go to a bank to get a certified cheque or money order. That’s not only inconvenient, it’s also costly.

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A few years ago, the Canada Revenue Agency decided not to accept cash payments at its offices. The decision was unpopular and later reversed.

So, why did Passport Canada outlaw cash payments? Isn’t it discriminating against people who don’t use plastic?

The agency has nothing in its news archive about the policy change that took effect  last June and the rationale. Seems that a press release was never issued.

In an article in the Record, the agency says it’s a cost-saving measure that reduces the risk of theft and keeps cash out of the hands of employees. In the Winnipeg Free Press, the agency calls it a security measure to eliminate fraud, as well as reducing the cost of handling and transporting funds.

So, what do you think? Is it fair to ban cash payments for passports? Please leave comments here.

I like what Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth, a Conservative, told the Record last year.

 “It’s not clear to me that they sufficiently considered the people who only deal in cash,” he said, referring to the Mennonite population in his riding.

“It may be we’re on our way to becoming a cashless society. But we’re not there yet.”

9 replies on “cash”

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