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Woman in Surrey spends 12 hours in passport line ‘for nothing’

Renewing your passport is becoming a major hassle throughout the country as one Coquitlam woman learned Tuesday. Sophie Ma spent over 12 hours in line.

Renewing your passport has become a major hassle across the country as one Coquitlam woman learned Tuesday.

Sophie Ma was packing her son’s luggage for his trip to Japan for a medical procedure on Monday when she realized his passport was expired and his flight was scheduled to depart on Wednesday. So, Ma did her research and figured she could show up to a passport office at the crack of dawn and roll the dice waiting in line.

When she arrived at the Central City Mall in Surrey at 4 a.m. where the passport office is located, she was surprised to see 40 other people waiting outside the building in line, some of them holding blankets and sitting in chairs.

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“Some people lined up the day before at 7p.m. and spent all night in the dark and cold at the mall to wait for a new passport,” says Ma.

Related: Canadian passport renewal backlog makes its way to the House of Commons

Ma, accepting the reality of the situation walked into the lineup with her son and proceeded to wait.

“We just hoped maybe we can get in and some miracle would happen, and we could get a new passport. No, we waited in the end for nothing.”

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With the passport office closing at 4:30 p.m., Ma spent over 12 hours in line, standing most of the time and barley moved up in the lineup.

She even tried to go to the front of the line and explain her urgent situation to one of the clerks, but she says no one could offer any help and told her to “just wait in line.”

By the end of the day, Ma says out of the 40 people in the lineup, maybe five got in and out successfully and there were still around 20 people waiting in front of her by 4:30. She says more people would have been waiting but some had reached their breaking point and left.

“I talked to people, we were waiting together and we exchanged experiences and everybody’s frustrated, so frustrated.”

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When asked about the operations at this particular Surrey office, Ma recalls it being very unorganized.

“They’re very, very slow.”

Ma says although she is upset with her own experience, she feels worse for the people who had been waiting longer and got the same result.

“Me and my son need to go back and we were talking, maybe we should camp outside of the mall, sleep there overnight to get in and be first of the five in the ascending order so we can give our application form to the office.”

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Ma was forced to cancel her son’s flight and his medical procedure, leaving him in limbo.

“I don’t know when we can get his passport, and I don’t know when he can fly back.”