Note: The rules and law may have changed since this article was first published. It is provided for archival purposes but you should consult with your lawyer for the current state of the law
Are you experiencing difficulties when attempting to travel via air? Do these difficulties include extra security measures at the airport and an inability to check-in online? If the answer is yes, you could have a name similar to that of a person on the Passenger Protect Program (“PPP”) list which identifies Canadian individuals who may pose a threat to aviation security and prevents them from boarding an aircraft.
The goal of this program is to make air travel more secure and safe for the travelling public. While this may seem beneficial in theory, in reality the program is probably leaving you and many other Canadians frustrated and angry. Unfortunately, your travel difficulties cannot be completely eliminated until the name similar to yours in no longer PPP list. We know what you’re thinking – that could take forever! You’re right, it could, which is why there are other options available to you that can reduce, and possibly eliminate, the extra security measures you are experiencing.
Remember that security measures are changing often. This article is based on current information as of August 2013 but you should always first check with a lawyer or at the contacts listed to ensure you have up to date information.
There are small steps you can take to ensure the extra security measures you may have to face run as smoothly as possible. Arrive at the airport early. When you go to get your boarding pass have your information ready and tell the airline company that you are aware that you have a similar name to a person on the PPP list. Additionally, contact the airline company that you frequently travel with and explain your situation. This will likely reduce delays. You can also obtain a NEXUS pass which allows low-risk pre-approved travelers to use designated NEXUS border crossings without being subjected to regular questioning by customs and immigration officers. The program issues NEXUS identification cards for entry into both Canada and the United States to Canadian and American participants. The application form can be located at:
For further information about the NEXUS pass you can contact Service Canada at 1-866-639-8726.
Contact Transport Canada
Contact Transport Canada at 1-800-305-2059. During this phone call, you will be required to provide specific information to a representative who will then provide you with the best possible solutions for your travel difficulties.
Determine If You Are on the U.S. Watch List
Most countries have lists similar to Canada’s PPP List, but these lists differ from one another. According to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”), to find out if you are on the U.S. watch list you need to partake in the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (“DHS-TRIP”). This program provides a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at airports or train stations or crossing U.S. borders, including denied entry into and exit from the U.S at a port of entry. To obtain the forms required to partake in DHS-TRIP you can contact the TSA at 1-866-289-9673. Participation in this program will allow the TSA to clarify your information so that any misinformation between you and the person whose name is on the list can be resolved. The process will likely take approximately 30 days. This will reduce the extra security measures you face when traveling to the U.S.
Legal Name Change
A more radical approach, but something that could eliminate your travel difficulties, is a change of name. If you want to legally change your given name and/or your surname name you must apply under Saskatchewan’s The Change of Name Act, 1995 (“Act”). Application forms for a change of name can be obtained by contacting the Vital Statistics Registry at 1-855-347-5465. A support representative will discuss the process and send you the application form. The application fee is approximately $125.00. You will also have to pay an advertising fee of $10.70 to advertise your new name as required by the Act.
If you are married and have not changed your surname, this could also be a potential solution. When you marry, you can change your surname to the surname of your spouse, a hyphenated form of your surname and the surname of your spouse, your pre-marriage surname, or your birth surname. In this situation, you do not need to contact Vital Statistics to request a legal name change. However, you will need to contact various organizations, like your banking institution, Saskatchewan Health, and SGI so that they can change how your name appears in their systems. If you have already changed your surname after marriage, you can change it back to your pre-marriage surname. This requires the same steps you would take in order to obtain your spouse’s surname as described above. For further information you can visit the Vital Statistics website at:
As you can see, the time consuming and frustrating security measures you have been experiencing can be reduced in a number of ways. Some of these procedures require more time and effort than others. Luckily, you can use a combination of the above options that best suits your travel plans in a way that will allow secure air travel to be a benefit rather than a detriment.