Duties and responsibilities
Physicians acting as guarantors—New Canadian passport requirements
An article for physicians by CMPA General Counsel
Originally published June 2008
Passport applications no longer need to be signed by specified professionals, and when signing certain personal information must be included.
The CMPA often receives inquiries from members on the duties and liabilities of physicians who act as guarantors for patients' passport applications. In the past, the Association has advised members to generally agree to act as guarantors for their patients (where they met the additional requirements for a guarantor). Otherwise, some patients may have had difficultly securing a guarantor.
New guarantor policy
As of October 1, 2007, a new guarantor policy for Canadian passports has been implemented, which eliminates the list of designated professionals, such as physicians, who may act as guarantors. The new policy allows most Canadian adult passport holders to act as guarantors for passport applications. Eligible guarantors must:
- be Canadian citizens 18 years of age or older;
- hold a valid Canadian passport (or one that has been expired for no more than one year on the day the application is submitted);
- have been 16 years of age or older when they applied for their own passport; and
- have known the applicant personally for at least two years.
In addition, guarantors must now include on the passport application their name, date of birth, permanent residence address, day and evening phone numbers, and their own passport number. Previously, guarantors only provided their name, business address and phone numbers. There was no requirement to provide the guarantors' date of birth, passport number or home address.
Deciding to act as a guarantor
In light of the broadened scope of persons who may act as guarantors, physicians should no longer feel it's necessary for them to act as guarantors for their patients.
Members who are considering acting as guarantors must decide whether they are willing to disclose their personal information to their patients, e.g., date of birth, home address, home phone number and passport number. For the most part, this information is not otherwise accessible to patients.
Members who are uncomfortable with the new requirements for acting as a guarantor should consider adopting a general policy in their offices that passport applications will not be completed for patients. All patients should be advised of this policy and it should be applied consistently. Acting as a guarantor for some patients, but not others, may be considered unfair.
Members who choose to act as guarantors should understand that they must provide all the required information on the passport application. Providing only partial information would likely lead to delays in the processing of the passport application, thus giving a patient a legitimate basis for complaint. Members are reminded that they are prohibited from charging any fee for acting as a guarantor.
More information available
You may obtain copies of the new passport documentation from Passport Canada offices and Canada Post offices, or access it online at http://www.ppt.gc.ca/.