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How You’re Entitled To Canadian Citizenship By Descent

Posted Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 at 11:58 am

If you have a parent who was born in Canada you are a Canadian citizen by descent.

One of the most commonly asked questions we field is related to Canadian citizenship by descent. Individuals born outside of Canada are Canadian citizens by descent only if one of their parents is a citizen of Canada either by having been born in Canada or by naturalization. That means if your mother or father was born in Canada, you are entitled to Canadian citizenship, even if your parent hasn’t lived in the country for most of their lives and even if you’ve never visited. Under Canadian nationality law any person born to a Canadian citizen parent is automatically a Canadian citizen.

The legal term for citizenship by descent is jus sanguinis, or “right of blood,” referring to laws which rely on a person’s heritage to determine his or her citizenship status. If you’re researching this, you’ll hear it thrown around a lot.

The Citizenship Act was recently changed in 2009 to limit that citizenship by descent to one generation – also known as the “first generation rule”. It is not retroactive. If you were born after 2009, you’re a Canadian if one parent is a Canadian citizen – but not if a grandparent was. if you were born prior to 17 April 17th, 2009 when the new rule came into effect, you’re in luck and can still claim Canadian citizenship regardless of how many generations back your Canadian direct ascendents were born in Canada.  This is particularly important for many Americans who may be descended from Canadians who moved to the United States for economic reasons a number of generations ago.

Obtaining proof of citizenship is something that some Canadian citizens by descent attempt to do themselves, with typical wait times ranging between 5 months to a full year for processing. The form lead up and process is complicated and even the slightest error in your paperwork will result in a rejection, forcing you to start the process over again. Many applicants will secure an immigration lawyer to take care of the details, but that can make the process more expensive than it needs to be. We offer the same service as an immigration lawyer, but at a significantly less cost. As part of our fee of $199, we take care of the application paperwork and package preparation and lead you from start to finish, offering a guarantee on the processing of your application.

The benefits to Canadian citizenship are far and wide. From access to some of the world’s best schools, the ability to travel with a Canadian passport, to vote or run for political office, or to reside or work in Canada while benefitting from social privileges like the national health care system and one of the world’s most multi cultural societies. Maclean’s published a great piece back in 2013 on 99 reasons why it’s better to be a Canadian. Not everyone is entitled to the privilege of Canadian citizenship. What are you waiting for?


36 Responses to “How You’re Entitled To Canadian Citizenship By Descent”

  1. Anton Roberts says:

    Hi, I saw yourt article on Canadian citizenship by descent, and require clarification. I am South African, and my wife’s grandmother was born in Canada in 1911 and relocated to South Africa. My wife was born in 1966. Do she still qualify for Canadian citizenshoip by descent – we originally thought this was not possible?

    Kind Regards

  2. info says:

    If one of your wife grandparents is a Canadian citizen, she might be eligible to become a dual citizen of Canada and the USA. However, you have to apply for a proof of Canadian Citizenship. For a proof of Canadian Citizenship, she needs a copy of her parents and grandparents birth certificate.

  3. Jason says:

    I took the self assessment test and it seems like I could be Canadian, but I’m not sure.

    My grandmother was Canadian, born in 1919 to Canadian parents.

    Her son, my father, is Canadian, but he was born in the US. He’s a dual citizen, American and Canadian. I think that the way Canadian citizenship laws work that he is to be considered Canadian since birth. He carries a citizenship card and a passport from Canada.

    I was born in the US in 1973. My parents were married at the time of my birth. My mother was American. My parents never registered my birth at a Canadian embassy or consulate for foreign birth record purposes.

    Am I Canadian? Why or why not? Can you help me obtain certificate if I am?

  4. vanita says:

    Hi, my father is a Canadian citizen ( naturalisation ) but was born outside canada I was born outside Canada I’m I a Canadian citizen?

  5. chris says:

    If your father became a Canadian citizen before you were born, you right to Canadian citizenship. You should apply for a proof of Canadian Citizenship.

    The easiest way to apply for proof of Canadian citizenship is using online services. You could start the process of obtaining proof of Canadian Citizenship by signing up online at You should choose “Adult Citizenship Certificate” option. Canada Citizenship Help will send you all required forms, assess and review your application with 24/7 support, check your documentation, look for a photographer in your area that specializes in taking Canadian Citizenship photos and an industry unique comprehensive review of your application photos to be absolutely sure they were taken to the Biometric standard.

    Using online services prevent rejection or any delays. You will receive your Canadian Citizenship certificate in 3 – 4 months. The total cost of obtaining proof of Canadian Citizenship is $199. This includes government application processing fees, application and picture assessment and pre-approval and the cost of shipping the citizenship certificate to you.

    Please call us at (888) 808 – 0455 if you have any questions.

  6. Robert says:

    Hi there,

    My grandmother, born in 1925 in Canada, relocated to Sourg Africa at the age of 25. My mother was born in 1953 but was assigned Soutg African citizenship. She was unable to apply for Canadian citizenship until after my birth in 1983 as she was only permitted to apply if her father was Canadian. The rules then changed, and she applied for and received her citizenship. Do I have any claim to citizenship if she only received hers after I was born?

  7. Candace says:

    My grandfather was born in 1894 in Quebec. We’ve found his Baptism entry that lists his parents, date of birth, etc, and I have my father’s birth certificate from being born in the US. I myself was born in the US in the early 1970’s. Is it worth attempting Canadian citizenship through my grandfather? I’m not sure if the year of birth of my grandfather is an issue.

  8. Jan says:

    My father was born in Canada in 1925, and I was born in the US in 1952. My father became a US citizen in 1957, so he was clearly still a Canadian citizenwhen I was born (still owned land in Saskatchewan until the early 1960’s) Am I a Canadian?

  9. Emily Chiller says:


    My grandmother was born in Canada in 1924, immigrated to the US in 1947 and was married but remained an alien resident and never became a US citizen. My father was born outside Canada and never had any papers of Canadian citizenship, and so was I. I was borm in 1985, does citizenship by descent still apply to me?

  10. Vivian Perez says:


    The great-grandmother of my husband was Canadian (born in Montreal) and he was born in the United States in 1967. Can he qualify for dual citizenship?


  11. Marla Maclean says:

    I was well before 2009. My grandfather was born in Montreal and was french canadian. I am an american but want dual citizenship with Canada. I want buy property in Montreal. I am currently taking french lessons. I am financial independent. I am actually very busy now. I started the process. I was trying to get a copy of my grandfathers burth certicate. I habe his marriage license stating he was born in Montreal. I just want to hire soneobe to speed up the process.

  12. SHAWN P. WATSON says:

    My grandmother was born 1904 on St. Joseph’s Island, ONTARIO. She married an American round 1927 in Michigan. My father was born in Michigan in 1928. I the grandson born 1964 in MI. Could I be a dual citizen?

  13. Bernard Goulet says:

    Hi My Grandfather was born in Chicago, My Great Grandfather was Canadian. I have tracked this thru and feel confident I could find records to prove it. My question is this. what exact service am I getting for my $199? (I was born in 1962)

  14. Jay says:


    My maternal grandmother was born in Canada to Canadian parents and moved to the US many years ago. She married a US citizen. I was born in the US in 1985. Can I become a Canadian citizen? Let me know as I’d love help!

  15. Sharon says:

    My grandad was born in Canada in 1909 and moved to U.K. When he was about 5 so about 1914,
    I was born in 1955. Can I claim Canadian citizenship?
    Many thanks

  16. chris says:

    Hi Sharon,

    You might be eligible. Call us at 1-888-808-0455 to discuss further and ask for Mario.

  17. Claire says:


    My grandfather is a naturalised citizen of Canada having moved from the UK in the 1950’s. I was born in the UK in 1977 can I apply for citizenship.

    Many Thanks


  18. chris says:

    Dear Claire:

    If one of your grandparents is a Canadian citizen, you might be eligible to become a dual citizen of Canada and the USA. The citizenship by descent for the second generation is complicated and limited. Citizenship Canada has a special process for the 2nd generation. The Citizenship Canada reviews each case based on its merit and informs individuals if they are eligible to receive a Canadian citizenship certificate. Unfortunately, until the application is reviewed by the Citizenship Canada, it is difficult to know if the case will be accepted.

    You need a notarized copy of your grandparents’s Canadian citizenship certificate to apply for your Canadian Citizenship.

  19. Amreek singh says:

    My wife in canada on tourist visa she born baby 16oct2018 and get birth certificate and now can apply for Canadian passport because she came back to india how can get passport plz help us

  20. Linda boton says:

    My son is currently in Canada on a 2 year working visa. My son was born in 1991. His grandfather was born in cananda in 1935. Can e receive Canadian citizenships
    Thank you

  21. Denise Guest says:

    Hi Chris
    I have just read your responses above (particularly to Claire on November 7th). My Great-Grandfather was Canadian. Both of his parents were from Newfoundland. I’m sure that I could obtain certification to prove this. I gather that my grandmother would have therefore been Canadian by descent – however she never claimed Canadian citizenship – so I would be presumably be a 3rd generation descendant – rather than a second generation descendant. I was born in 1960. Is there any hope that I may be eligible – or is the connection too remote? Thanks for you help. Denise

  22. alfred says:

    Hi guys! so I’m a naturalized Canadian citizen since 1996. my Son was born in Burbank California in March 2007, is he automatically Canadian? I’ve been doing some research on-line but seems like there’s no simple answer to this million dollar question… anyone?

  23. alfred says:

    Hi guys! so I’m a naturalized Canadian citizen since 1996. my Son was born in Burbank California in March 2007, is he automatically Canadian? I’ve been doing some research on-line but seems like there’s no simple answer to this million dollar question… anyone?

  24. Carolyn says:

    My Mother was born in Canada in 1921 to British parents. They moved to Zambia when she was very young. I was born in Zambia in 1955 – am I eligible? Please advise.

  25. Karen says:

    Good afternoon I am looking to prove citizenship my mother was born in Montreal Canada in 1924 I would like to do this and for my son 13 years old would this be possible please many thanks Karen

  26. Graham says:

    Hi, my grandfather was born in Newfoundland and moves to UK after serving in World War 2. My mother never took Canadian Citizenship so we all have British passports. Would I be eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship?

  27. Graham says:

    Hi, my grandfather was born in Newfoundland and moves to the UK after serving in WW2. My mother never took up her Canadian Citizenship. I was born in 1978 so would I be eligible as a descendant box my grandfather?.

  28. Alex says:

    If my after became canadian citizen (naturalized) after i was born (i was born in europe , later on my father emigrated and got his citizenship , can i apply for citizenship ?

  29. Jacqueline says:

    My husband was born in the US but has dual US/Canadian citizenship through his mother, who was born in Canada. Would our kids, both born before 2009 be eligible for Canadian citizenship?

  30. Christopher M says:

    Grandfather born in Nova Scotia 1903, but birth certificates for Nova Scotia only go back to 1908 when I was on their official website trying to order online so didn’t proceed with the order. Father born in Massachusetts in February 1950 and me in November 1975 (therefore second generation and dual citizenship still wasn’t allowed), have a sister born in June 1979, and brother born in February 1981(both their births after dual citizenship was allowed).
    Grandfather is deceased have a copy of death certificate,.
    Father don’t know of his whereabouts rather living or dead as my parents split up when I was still very little and was separated from my father. Do have a copy of his birth certificate but didn’t find out until I was thirty about my grandfather being from Canada. I obtained my father’s birth certificate first tying to go in order by generation from most recent to try to make my search easier.
    I kept reading about second generation Canadians born for all intensive purposes after dual citizenship was allowed, but what about those of second generation born before dual citizenship was allowed. I feel as if by association that Canada is saying that because I was born before dual citizenship was allowed that I’m assumed that I didn’t want it.
    But really who are they to judge, there are people who are born after dual citizenship was allowed who don’t want it. And they’re are people born before dual citizenship was allowed that want it. I personally feel like that I’m arbitrarily being disqualified from citizenship by descent because of my date of birth and the dates of births of my father and grandfather which none of us could have controlled.
    But now with citizenship for my father being retroactive to birth are there possibilities for me and my younger siblings since we were all born before the first generation cut off date
    Thank you
    Chris M.

  31. Liz says:

    Hi. My grandfather on my father’s side was naturalised Canadian after my dad died, and then after a few years he died. I know it might be a bit of a reach but, could I have a chance of getting a Canadian citizenship? I don’t have any of his paperwork (naturalisation or death certificates). Thanks.

  32. Sabra says:

    My grandmother (dad’s mom) is currently a Canadian citizen she has been there for over 20 years but only got her citizenship a few years back. Her parents were both citizens do I qualify to apply for citizenship?

  33. Jeremy says:

    My family first arrived in the Americas in Canada. Many generations back my family line moved to the US. We have traced the family line back several generations. What proof is required to claim citizenship by decent in this case.

  34. Mark says:

    My great grandmother was born in Canada in 1864. My great grandfather was born in the US to Canadian born parents. They married in Canada and lived there a few years before moving to the US. I’m assuming this would make my grandfather who was born in 1895 in the US a naturalized Canadian citizen by decent? Would I be able to then claim Canadian citizenship by decent through them?

  35. Mark says:

    My great grandmother was born in Canada in 1864. My great grandfather was born in the US to Canadian born parents. They married in Canada and lived there a few years before moving to the US. I’m assuming this would make my grandfather who was born in 1895 in the US a naturalized Canadian citizen by decent? Would I be able to then claim Canadian citizenship by decent through them? I was born in 1960 in the US.

  36. Ken Albrecht says:

    Friends live in mexico. She was born to parents who had cdn cirizenship by descent. She lived in canada between 6 and 14 yrs old and recd cdn citizenship. Her husband is also descendant of cdn but not citizen. Can their 2 children ages 6 and 8 (born in mexico in 2012 and 2010) get cdn citizenship as she lived here for 8 yrs?

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