Hamilton, Bermuda

Anyone who has ever traveled to a foreign country knows how important their passport is to them. Losing it or having it stolen is a huge inconvenience, especially if it happens while you are traveling. Now, I’m in a situation where I’m not resident in the country where my passport is from, and I can’t get a passport in the country that I’m resident in. My recent concern was that my passport was due to expire.

Canadian passports expire every five years, so this is something that people need to deal with on a somewhat regular basis if they are the traveling type. And usually it is when you are preparing to take a trip that you look at your passport and see that you are expired or soon to expire. In my case, I was well aware of my passport expiry since I’d written the date on so many different forms over the years. That date was approaching and since I am resident abroad, I knew it was important for me to renew.

Renewing a Canadian passport from Bermuda

Fortunately, renewing a Canadian passport from Bermuda (or the US) is reasonably pain-free. A former coworker had gone through his renewal process a few months before and provided some excellent advice.

The first thing you want to do is go to the Passport Canada page for Canadians living in the US or Bermuda. If you qualify, your easiest option is the Simplified Renewal Form PPTC 054. This form is only a couple of pages and doesn’t need anything signed or done by a guarantor. The PDF document itself helps validate your data as you type it in and contains a lot of instructions to make sure that the application is complete. In some places, the form and website make it seem like the form is for the US only, but I assure your that as of the time of this writing, it also applies to Bermuda as well.

In particular, when entering your address in the form, the available options under Prov./Ter./State didn’t include anything which would indicate Bermuda. In the end, I just filled in Bermuda by hand after I printed the form. I also had to attach a sheet to supplement my two year address history, but that one is based on your personal situation.

I also found out that if you want to pay an extra $5, you can get a double length business passport. It has 48 pages for those people who end up collecting a lot of stamps or visas. Given that the passport fee is already $97, the extra five seems like a no-brainer. However, there is no option for this on the application form itself, I ended up attaching a cover letter which indicated my desire. Totally up to you. For payment you fill in the credit card authorization slip which is on the first page of the form.

The only other consideration is the photos. There seems to be only one place to get Canadian passport compliant photos done in Bermuda, at least according to my coworker. That is Mall Passport and Portrait Studio in Washington Mall (Hamilton). It costs $17 and is done while you wait. All said and done, it was a pretty smooth process.

More expensive is the cost of couriering the finished application, along with your old passport to the facility in Canada which handles the processing. This was around $50 for me. But considering I’m including my passport, it was well worth it. The address is on the form that you fill out. End to end, the process took me a bit over two weeks. Two weeks without a passport, but now that I have my new one, I’m breathing a bit easier. Since all flights from Bermuda are international, going anywhere (like back to Canada for a wedding in August) requires my passport. I’m glad the process was as straight forward as it was.

Permitted to work

In addition to needing a new passport, my initial one year work permit in Bermuda was also nearing completion, so the company started the process to get me a new one. This time it was a three year permit since it would seem that I am going to be living here for a bit longer. At one point that would have been daunting news, but now that I’m settled here, I couldn’t imagine leaving any time soon.

Bermuda immigration isn’t really all that easy to deal with. They need lots of information and even then, the decision as to whether someone gets a permit or not feels somewhat arbitrary. But even with a passport soon to expire, I was granted my three year permit. And of course we have since updated their records with a notarized copy of my new passport. But it is all sorted now.

So if you need me, I’m safely and legally in Bermuda for the next few years.