Canadians are canceling or postponing their Maine vacation plans because of long waits to get or renew passports.
A Canadian flag flaps in the breeze along a street at Old Orchard Beach on July 12, 2007. Credit: Pat Wellenbach / AP

There are major delays and long lines at Canadian passport centers, keeping thousands of Canadians from vacationing in Maine or elsewhere.

After two summers of the pandemic keeping Canadians out, this was supposed to be the summer for Canadians to return to Vacationland.

“This is their French Riviera,” Sarah Diment of the Beachmere Inn said. “They love coming to Maine.”

Before the pandemic hit, 5.5 million Canadians vacationed in Maine, representing a quarter of all the tourists who come to the state.

Right now, thousands of Canadians are having to cancel or postpone their vacation plans because of the huge backlog in getting passports issued or renewed.

“Ugh, it’s very long,” tourist Samantha Thivirje said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Thivirje and her mother waited three months for their passports to be renewed and finally got them a few days ago.

“I received mine,” Thivirje said. “It takes about three months. My mother, too. And her, I didn’t receive it. So we just came with her birth certificate.”

She’s staying in Old Orchard Beach at a resort where other Canadians have called to say they can’t make it because of passport delays.

“Yeah, we’ve had a couple of calls saying that they needed to reschedule, or in some cases cancel, because they couldn’t get the passport,” Fred Kennedy of the Alouette Beach Resort said. “Some of them said that they had applied long ago.”

The Canadian passport backlog also is affecting resorts in Ogunquit.

“I think I’ve taken four calls in the last week about Canadian guests not being able to get their passports renewed,” Diment said.

One reason for the backlog is the fact that Canada issued 1 million more passports than they did last year, when no one was traveling anyway due to COVID-19.

There are still thousands of Canadians waiting.

“It’s another slap,” Diment said. “Like ugh, ‘Pandemic’s over, but you can’t come here because your passport’s not done.’”

This week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a task force aimed at improving government services for Canadians. He said the wait times for passports are unacceptable, and the government is working quickly to resolve the issue.

“You know, I hope they figure it out,” Diment said. “It would be nice for all those poor Canadian guests to get here.”

“Sometimes they find other places to go and you lose them forever,” Kennedy said. “So hopefully we don’t have that problem.”

The Canadian government said by mail, it can take up to four months to get a passport.

Anyone with last-minute travel plans must go in-person.

Canadian travel agents warn that passports expiring in six months are as good as expired from a traveling perspective.