Canadian passports can list ‘Palestine’ as a place of birth but only for those born before 1948

10 April 2024
What was claimed

Canada has removed the option to list ‘Palestine’ as a place of birth on applications for Canadian passports.

Our verdict

There have been no recent changes to the country list on application forms for Canadian passports but ‘Palestine’ can only be listed as a place of birth for those born before 14 May 1948.

Contrary to viral online claims, ‘Palestine’ has not been removed as a place of birth option from Canadian passport application documents. There have been no recent changes to the country options available on the form but only those born before 1948 can list ‘Palestine’.

Several posts on social media claim: “Palestine is no longer listed in the options of countries on the new Canadian passport. Instead ‘no country of origin’ must be selected.” Another graphic says: “In Canada you are not allowed to be from Palestine. Canada is removing the word ‘Palestine’ from legal documents”.

But there have been no recent changes to the way Canadian passport applications list countries, although only those born before 1948 can list ‘Palestine’ as their place of birth, according to the Canadian government. 

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There have been no recent changes to the Canadian passport system regarding Palestine being someone’s place of birth

The Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Marc Miller, posted on X saying: “I'd like to correct recent claims circulating on social media related to the selection of Palestine as the country of birth on the Canadian passport. There have been no recent changes to the country list available in the Canadian passport application form.

“If an applicant was born before May 14, 1948 and requests Palestine as their country of birth, they can do so by going into the application drop down menu and clicking on the ‘Other field’ followed by entering ‘Palestine’. This can also be done by hand, as always.”

A representative from IRCC told reporters at Reuters that the Canadian passport applications were digitised in 2006, which included dropdown menus for country of birth, and that there have been no recent changes to the country list on the application form. 

Only those born before 1948 can list Palestine as their place of birth

Only people born before 14 May 1948 can list Palestine as their place of birth on a Canadian passport. For those born on or after that date, it must instead be entered as Jordan, Israel, Gaza Strip or Jerusalem. The policy is similar in the US, while 'Occupied Palestinian Territories’ is an option for those with UK passports. 

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told Full Fact that: “The country drop down list is based on Canada’s longstanding policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Applicants born before May 14, 1948 can request Palestine as their place of birth. 

“Applicants born on or after May 14, 1948, requesting Palestine can select the drop down menu and click on the ‘Other’ field followed by entering or typing West Bank, Gaza Strip, or Jerusalem, as their place of birth.”

The digital application form gives the option “Other - please specify”, and when opened in Adobe Acrobat, custom text can be typed in that box.

It is not mandatory for Canadian passports to include a place of birth at all, and passport-holders can opt to include either the city or the country they were born in, or both. Those not wanting to include their place of birth must submit an additional form

A 2006 Federal Court document refers to a policy which states that an applicant’s chosen place of birth is “neither an official recognition by the Canadian government of any country nor support by the Canadian government of either faction where the [place of birth] indicated is a territory the sovereignty over which has not been finally settled under international law”. 

Canada’s government website says it recognises the “Palestinian right to self-determination and supports the creation of a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement”. 

Where did these claims come from?

These claims appear to have come from two viral videos, posted on 23 February 2024, in which a woman recounts the experience of her 90-year-old grandmother who was apparently told she could not list ‘El Bassa, Palestine’ on her renewed Canadian passport.

In the first video, the woman in the video plays a voicemail supposedly from “Passport Services” saying that the new passport would instead say only “El Bassa” and not list a country of birth. 

In the second video, which has more than 36,600 shares on TikTok and 21,000 on X (formerly Twitter), she says: “When you try to renew your passport in Canada, Palestine is not an option for a country in the drop down list. Imagine being 90 years old and having your actual place of birth just erased from your identity.”

According to the woman in the video, who spoke to local press, Passport Canada apologised to the 90-year-old woman and said her new passport would include “Palestine” as her place of birth, as she was born before 1948. 

Image courtesy of Evans

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