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Fact check: No Palestinian identity on Canadian passports?

March 15, 2024

Viral posts have claimed "Palestine" is no longer a birthplace option on Canadian passports. Canada's government has dismissed the claim.

Screenshot of an online post claiming Palestine is no longer listed in the country option on the new Canadian passport.
Several posts have claimed 'Palestine' was removed from the country list for people applying for a Canadian passport. The information is misleading

This TikTok videoalready has more than 4 million views: a young woman telling her audience that in Canada, people "are not allowed to be from Palestine any more." 

The woman, who has been identified only as Blair in Canadian media, explains that her grandmother was not able to renew her passport with "Palestine" as her birthplace. 

"Imagine being 90 years old and having your actual place of birth just erased from your identity," she adds, accusing authorities of "cultural genocide." 

Other posts echoed Blair’s case, with even a former UN special rapporteur speaking of "anti-Palestinian racism.

A petition was started online to "block the Canadian Passport Office from erasing Palestine from countries of birth." 

All this comes at a time when tensions are high as a result of the war in Gaza, which began after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on October 7.

The conflict has also brought the discussion of Palestinian statehood to the forefront.  

Screenshot of a Social Media post
This social media user claimed her grandmother was not able to renew her Canadian passport with Palestine as her birthplace

'Palestine' not on Canadian passport application forms 

Claim: Canada removed "Palestine" as a possible place of birth for passport applications. 

DW fact check: Misleading. 

Blair, the young Palestinian-Canadian woman, said that — according to the government of Canada — "Palestine" "has to be removed" from her grandmother's new passport and replaced with "no country of birth."

She added that "Palestine" is not a country option from the drop-down menu on the passport application form. 

This final aspect seems accurate, at least according to two forms which DW was able to access. "Palestine" is not an option on the drop-down list, neither on the "Adult general application" form nor on the "Adult simplified renewal passport application" form. 

The latter, with a reference number pptc054, seems to be the form the young woman is showing in her TikTok video.

However, the government of Canada explained to DW that applicants born before May 14, 1948 —which would apply to Blair's 90-year-old grandmother — can indeed request "Palestine" as their country of birth.

In a written statement, Canada's Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) department said applicants can do so by clicking "Other" from the drop-down menu and typing "Palestine" in the "Please Specify" field. 

May 14, 1948, refers to the date in which the state of Israel was established.

Palestinian statehood is currently disputed among scholars, diplomats and individual nations.

However, the majority of the 193 UN member states — 139 — recognize the Palestinian territories as a state.

Germany, like the US and many EU states, does not recognize Palestinian statehood. 

Germany uses the term "Palestinian territories" for the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

'No recent changes' on Canadian passport applications 

Canada's IRCC department also explained in its statement to DW that "there have been no recent changes to the country list available in the Canadian passport application form." 

This was echoed by the country's minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, Marc Miller, who went on social media platform X to "correct recent claims circulating on social media" regarding this issue.  

Miller added that the applicant can enter "Palestine" also by hand "as always." 

Other countries like the United States have a similar policy of allowing people to request "Palestine" as place of birth if they were born before 1948.

On the US passport primary application form, applicants can choose "Palestine" on the drop-down menu. 

Voicemails for the grandmother? 

In a separate TikTok video, published the same day as the first one and which has so far been viewed 1.8 million times, Blair said the Canadian government left a voice message on her grandmother's phone saying that "Palestine never existed." 

The person leaving the message identified himself, according to the social media video, as being from "passport services" and said a new passport would identify the place of birth as El Bassa, where the grandmother was born, but "no country of birth." 

Application form for Canadian passports
The word 'Palestine' is not on the drop-down menu for applicants who want to renew their Canadian passportImage: DW

Blair told Canadian media outlet CBC that after the incident, a passport agent called her grandmother, apologized and said the new passport would indeed say "Palestine."

DW was neither able to confirm whether the audio cited by Blair is genuine, nor whether Canadian authorities indeed apologized to her grandmother. 

In its statement to DW, IRCC said that "due to privacy legislation," it cannot comment on individual cases.  

"The Government of Canada regularly communicates guidelines and procedures to staff to maintain consistency and appropriate application across our offices," the statement added. 

Regarding Canada's position on the Palestinian territories, Canada has officially recognized the Palestinian right to self-determination. 

In a document last updated in 2023, the government indicated it supported the creation of a "sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement." 

Silvia Schütt contributed to this report.

Edited by: Rachel Baig, Nicole Goebel