How to Get Certified True Copies of Your Passport

  1. ITIN Application for Canadians: Do You Need to File a US Tax Return?
  2. How to Get Certified True Copies of Your Passport
  3. All About the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  4. Update on IRS Processing of Certified True Copies of Canadian Passports

Notice: As a result of the Government of Canada no longer embossing seals on Certified True Passport Copies, we have begun seeing the IRS reject some ITIN applications. See this post for details and alternative options for verifying identity.

If you haven’t entered the US credit card market yet, you are missing out. Our American counterparts are privy to a bevy of credit cards that offer strong welcome bonuses and perks.

While you can get your first US credit card through Nova Credit or American Express Global Transfer, in the long term you will need an individual tax identification number, or ITIN, in order to apply and be approved for additional credit cards. With that in mind, obtaining certified passport copies for inclusion in your application is an imperative part of the process.

Let’s look into what certified true passport copies are and how you can obtain them for submitting your ITIN application.

What Are Certified True Passport Copies?

When you submit your ITIN application after using Frugal Flyer’s ITIN service, you will need to include a physical validation of your passport information. 

While the option is there to send your actual passport with your application, the ITIN approval and issuing process can take 4-6 months, meaning you would be without your passport that whole time which would simply not work for frequent flyers. While the passport will be returned even if the application is rejected, there is a small but present risk and frankly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable mailing off my passport for an extended period of time.

On the other hand, utilizing a certified true passport copy as your validation of passport information allows you to retain your physical passport for travel.

Certified true passport copies of a Canadian passport are:

  • Obtained from Service Canada
  • Validated by an officer against the electronic passport record
  • Certified as a true and authentic copy of the original
  • Dated and sealed by the Passport Program

Passport copies that are notarized by a notary public, legal official, or the like are not considered to be certified true copies, and cannot be used in an ITIN application. Certified true copies must be certified by the issuing agency. This applies to Canadian passports as well as passports issued by other countries.

In Canada, requesting signed certified true passport copies comes with a nominal cost of $45 CAD and you can request up to three copies. While you should only need one copy to apply for your ITIN, it makes complete sense to ask for the maximum amount just in case.

How to Get Certified True Passport Copies

There are two methods to obtain certified true passport copies in Canada: in-person or via letter mail. It is important to note that you will need to release your passport to Service Canada for the certified true passport copies to be generated and thus, you will be without your passport for a period of time (typically a few weeks to a month).

If you are looking for any clarification on this process from the Government of Canada, click here.

Obtaining Certified True Passport Copies In-Person

If you are willing to take the time to submit your request for certified true passport copies in-person at a Service Canada location, this may speed up the process quite a bit. This method skips having to mail in your passport and wait for them to receive it.

The process for obtaining certified true passport copies in-person is as follows:

  1. Complete the Request for certified true copy of Canadian travel document form
  2. Visit a Service Canada location with your completed form and passport (both booking an appointment and walk-ins are accepted)
  3. Pay the fee in person and submit your passport and completed form.

This method has a quicker turnaround time, but I would still plan to be without a passport for a period of about a month while you wait for your certified copies. Your passport, along with your certified copies, will be mailed to the address provided on your form.

Obtaining Certified True Passport Copies via Letter Mail

If you want to obtain certified true passport copies without needing to visit a Service Canada location in person, going through the process via letter mail is the easiest way to obtain your copies. 

The process for obtaining certified true passport copies via letter mail is as follows:

  1. Complete the Request for certified true copy of Canadian travel document form
  2. Complete the Gov. of Canada payment authorization form, indicating Certified True Copies as the service and $45 as the amount with your payment details
  3. Package the two forms up with your Passport and mail them to the appropriate Service Canada mailing address for your province, as listed below:
provincial mailing addresses for certified true passport copies

I have used this method in the past and found it took around a month, so if you are going to mail your passport to Service Canada to obtain certified copies I would ensure you don’t have any travel needs for the next month or two just in case.

Obtaining Certified True Passport Copies for Foreign (Non-Canadian) Passports

The above pertains mainly to Canadian passports. However, many individuals residing in Canada or elsewhere have foreign, non-Canadian passports/citizenship. For these individuals, Service Canada will not be able to help.

For foreign passports, you can check with your regional embassy if they offer a certifying service (remember – it has to be ‘certified’ and not ‘notarized’). However, the U.S. Embassy or consulates can also certify true copies of foreign passports. Read more about this service on the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada website.

Some consulates require appointments, while others have designated walk-in times. For example, the U.S. Consulate in Toronto has monthly walk-in services.

Call your local U.S. Consulate or embassy to verify their process and make an appointment if applicable.


If you are serious about travel hacking, you will need to enter the US credit card market sooner rather than later. Understanding the process of obtaining certified true copies of your passport is a key step in obtaining your US-issued ITIN and opening up a world of welcome bonus opportunities.

Once you have your certified true passport copies, continue on to the next step of the ITIN process and you will be well on your way to accessing the US credit card market!

Reed Sutton

Reed Sutton

Founder at Frugal Flyer
Reed is addicted to the art of earning and redeeming travel points, and frequently pairs his trips with his other hobby: photography. Through Frugal Flyer, Reed aims to distill some of the complex and esoteric points strategies into digestible information. Furthermore, he hopes to use his technical expertise to develop invaluable applications and tools for the travel community.


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11 comments on “How to Get Certified True Copies of Your Passport

  1. Hi,

    My ITIN application was rejected since the new certified copy has no more dry seal on it. The IRS seems not aware of the new process of service Canada.

    • Hi Haithem. I have heard through the grapevine of some individuals being rejected for this reason. At the same time I have been seeing the majority of applications still being approved. I am hoping this is going to resolve as IRS agents get acquainted with the new Gov of Canada certification process. I have suggested to others to print and include an image like the following in their application packages. Might be worth another try with the same in your case.


      Edit: also recently heard that some people have been able to get Service Canada to still do embossing after requesting it specifically and stating that the US gov isn’t accepting non embossed copies. YMMV.

    • Hi,

      I have the same issue. I followed Frugal Flyers’ step-by-step process, yet the IRS refused my certified true copy of passport.

  2. Thanks for the useful information. Just a question, must the certified copy be recently made? Is there a maximum delay? For example, does the copy need to have been made within the last 6 months or something like that? Thanks!

  3. A relevant article, many thanks. Few churners know about the mail in option.

    There is also Option Three. Most Canadian embassies and consulates will do true certified copies for the same fee. And these are as good for IRS as those done by Service Canada. Of course, if works only if you happen to be travelling these days.

    • Thanks Osvald, that is very useful info. I’ve also just learned that one can take their ITIN documents and passport to a Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) to submit their application and verify identity in person. A useful option if anyone did happen to be travelling in the USA during this time.