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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?


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

  1. chris says:

    Hi Kathy – email us at or call us.

  2. Dana says:

    IS this still accurate?

  3. info says:

    Yes, If one of your parents is a Canadian citizen, you are eligible to become a Canadian citizen.

  4. Angie says:

    My grandmother was born in Canada in 1914, in Toronto. He parents were both British and they had emigrated.
    Sadly my great grandmother died in child birth, buried in Toronto, and my grandmother and her siblings cane back to the UK.
    Would this qualify me for Canadian citizenship as I have her Canadian birth records?
    Kind regards

  5. Zach says:

    Father was a naturalized citizen after I was born, can I still qualify?

  6. Michael G. Shanks says:

    My grandmother is from Yarmouth, NS
    Does that count?

  7. Dekan says:

    My grandfather was born in Canada in 1913, my father born in the States in 1950, I myself born in the States 1970 do I have a right to Canadian citizenship?

  8. Bonnie MacGregor says:

    My grandmother, Nina Holmes Adams (MacGregor), I believe was a citizen of Canada. Her
    Father Alonzo Adams, was Canadian, He grandfather Morris Holmes was from Beaver Harbor.
    The MacGregor side my Great Grandfather Jack MacGregor was born in Prince Edward Islands and we still have family there. How do I get copies of citizenship for them. I was born before 2009

  9. Melissa says:

    My grandfather was born in Canada and moved to Australia with his parents. He always remained a Canadian Citizen, would my mother or even myself be eligible for Canadian Citizenships?

  10. manny says:

    hi chris, what other options can we do if we dont have the proof of citizenship of my dad. My dad was able to apply me for a canadian citizenship certificate before he abondoned us.. I want my younger brother next to me to apply for a canadian certificate but failed to provide my father’s document as if he is refusing to give it us…

  11. Ronald LaMoure says:

    Am I eligible for citizenship by descent if my grandfather was born in Canada but migrated to the U.S. and then became a U.S. citizen? I assume he was required to renounce his Canadian citizenship and did not have a duel status. Both my father and I were born in the U.S.

  12. sarah says:

    Hi – British citizen – My grandfather (deceased) is Canadian. My grandmother married a Canadian during WW2. Father born 1944. Can I make an application based on my grandfather being Canadian? Or, does my father need to claim Citizenship first? One person at Embassy said no, another yes so confused!

  13. chris says:

    Hi Sarah. We sent you a private email about this. Let us know this found you ok.

  14. chris says:

    Hi Ronald. We sent you an email about this. Let us know this found you ok.

  15. chris says:

    Hi Manny. We reached out to you via email on this. Please confirm our message found you ok.

  16. Dekan says:

    My paternal grandfather (dec.) was born in Canada prior to 1946.
    My father (dec.) was born in U.S. in 1950.
    I was born in the U.S. in 1970.
    Am I eligible to claim citizenship as a right of birth?

  17. Warren says:

    My grandfather was born in PEI in 1876.
    My mother was born in the US in 1913 and never claimed Canadian citizenship.
    I was born in the US in 1954.
    Am I eligible for Canadian citizenship by descent?

  18. Roma says:

    Hi, my grandparents moved to Canada in the 1950s and became citizens, they moved there with my aunties and uncles as small children. They lived the rest of their lives there. My cousins are all Canadian born. Reading up on the changes made…would I be eligible to gain citizenship through descent (grandparents) as they had citizenship and I was born before 2009.

  19. Rebecca Koehnen says:

    Hello, My grandmother was a Canadian citizen. I was born in 1982. Am I eligible for Canadian citizenship?

  20. Jemima says:

    My grandfather was born in Canada and moved to Australia once he graduated. He always remained a Canadian Citizen, would my mother or myself be eligible for Canadian Citizenships? I was born before 2009.

  21. Dawn says:

    Hello, I hope you can help answer my question. My birth mother was born in Newfoundland and was Canadian until last year (just became a US citizen), and my paternal great granparents were born in Canada. However, I was adopted by US citizens. Can I still be considered Canadian by descent, despite the American adoption? I was born in the US in 1967.

  22. Melissa says:

    Both my maternal grandparents were Canadian citizens then moved to the U.S. when they started a family. I’m not sure if my pepere had American citizenship before he died in 1986 or if my memere ever got American citizenship. Would I be able to apply for citizenship for me and my family?

  23. Mairead says:

    Hi, I have a question because I can’t seem to find a straight answer for my situation online. My grandmother was born in Quebec, and my grandfather’s father was. I can prove that my ancestors before both my grandparents were in Quebec since the 1700s, and only emigrated to the US less Han century ago. I was born in 1996, live in a border state and am fluent in both English and French. Am I eligible (I think I am…?) and how can I follow through with this. I am very serious about claiming Canadian citizenship and becoming a permanent resident to further my medical studies. Please let me know. Thanks so much, feel free to email me if you’ve want.

  24. Bob says:

    “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.”
    What you’re saying here doesn’t seem to make sense. How did you come to this conclusion considering the rules concerning people born of the second generation outside Canada. Explain it to me, it sounds to good to be true.

  25. Karen says:

    I am an adoptee. My biological grandmother was Canadian (Quebec). The familial lines run multi generational, at least 7/8 generations. While my DNA is absolutely 100% verifiable, what as an adoptee in the US (born before 2009) do I need provide in order to qualify descent?

  26. Yashashree shah says:

    My grandfather was a naturalised citizen of Canada( his citizen certificate says in 1968). He passed away many years ago but I just found out his documents and thus wanted to know if I could apply for citizenship by descent? I do have his certificate of citizenship and other things.

  27. Sara says:


    My Great-Grandmother/Great-Grandfather was born/and lived in Nova Scotia. She moved to and lived in Michigan where she raised her family, but later moved back to Canada. I was born in 1980. Would I be eligible under the law prior to the changes in 2009/2015? Thanks in advance.

  28. Wayne says:


    My grandmother was born in Canada in 1926, and was a Canadian citizen, she passed away years ago, but moved to the USA when she was 6 years old. My mother was born in the US, and is a US citizen but never applied for Canadian nationality. My mother in turn immigrated to France, where I was born. Am I eligible to Canadian citizenship, (I was born before 2009) ?

  29. Wayne Conroy says:

    My Grandfather a born in Ontario, Canada (1900), as was his Father. All moved to U.S. in about 1906, my Mother as born in U.S. (Florida) 1921. Do I qualify for Canadian citizenship by descent, because of Grandfathers and Great-Grandfather’s Canadian citizenship?

  30. Geoff says:

    There seems to be a lot of people on different sites with different opinions on this subject. My Grandfather was Canadian born, my Father was born in Australia in 1940, but would have lost Canadian citizenship when turning 21 due to non-retention after the 1946 Act initially made him a citizen. He would have gotten it back in the 2009 changes. I was born in Australia in 1967, so pre-2009 changes, but my father, who is now considered to have been Canadian all his life, wasn’t actually one when I was born (my Grandfather was still Canadian), so under the 2009 changes I can not get Citizenship. I don’t think I can through my Grandfather either, even though I was born before 2009, and my Father was a Canadian Citizen on the very first day Canadian Citizenship became an actual thing! Weird!

  31. Benjamin says:

    My mother was born in Toronto, and I was born in the US in 2001. Do I need to file for citizenship, or am I automatically a citizen and don’t need to file any paperwork?

  32. Wayne says:

    I’m a Canadian citizen currently living in Japan. Child was born in Japan and he has my Japanese wife’s last name.

    I’m planning on applying for the Canadian citizenship certificate on behalf of the baby.

    We want the baby to use my last name in Canada for all future documents including a Canadian passport.

    Is there a way to have this done while having the child retain his Japanese last name in Japan?

    Thank you!

  33. Lynn C Duff says:

    My mother was born in Saskatchewan an and my father born in Alberta. I understand that gives me Canadian citizenship by descent. What is the approximate wait time for proof of my Canadian citizenship?

  34. T Charles says:

    Hi there!
    I’m American but my grandmother was born in Halifax and her father was born and raised in Halifax. Do I qualify for citizenship by descent or am I a generation too late? I was born in 1968. Despite modern documents mentioning my grandmother was from Halifax I cant find her birth certificate. My grandfather’s 1918 US citizenship cerificate lists ‘Great Britain’ as country of origin, but he was Canadian. In a nutshell:

    To qualify for Canadian citizenship by descent, how many generations minimum can one be removed from their Canadian ancestor? My Grandmother and grandfather were definatly Canadian ( i was born 1968)

    What documents are needed to prove said relatives are Canadian? Still no luck turning up a birth certificate for ejther, but US immigration forms list both as being from Halifax. My mother’s US birth certificate lists her mother as being from Halifax

    Given the Halifax explosion of 1917 destroyed many records, are exceptions made in case I can’t turn up their Halifax birth records?

  35. Kim Gerstenberger says:

    My grandparents were both born in Ontario in 1903. They came to the United States in 1928. They lived in Michigan and had green cards until their deaths in 1993 and 1998. My Dad was born in 1936 in Michigan. I was born in 1957 in Michigan. My parents lived in Toronto for 21/2 yrs while my dad attended University. My sister was born at Toronto General in 1960. How would I go about getting dual citizenship ?

  36. Cindy says:

    My grandfather was born in Nova Scotia, Canada around 1900. He was adopted so I do not have a birth certificate for him. His adoptive parents were also Canadian and he grew up in NS. He immigrated to the US in 1924. My mother was born in New York in 1927, but never applied for Canadian citizenship. She has since passed away and I do not have a birth certificate for her. I was born before 2009. Would I qualify for Canadian citizenship, and if so, how difficult would it be to obtain? Thank you.

  37. Tyler says:

    My father was born in St. John, NB however moved and naturalized in the US in adulthood. Do I qualify?

  38. Daniel says:

    Dear sirs,

    I was reading the process of citizenship by descent. I would be ecstatic as well as my sons if they can become Canadian citizens. I have two sons who my wife bore with her first husband (divorced) in South America . In 2008, we married so they are politically my sons but not by blood. They are adults. They are my l sons. I was born and raised in Canada and I am a Canadian citizen so I would love they turn my nationality. My beloved wife is in the process of getting her citizenship but she already has her Permanent Residence.
    My question is:
    Can my sons become citizens through me in a citizenship of descend ? Please ,give me hope! I am a proud Canadian.

  39. jim says:

    I was born prior to 2009 and would be trying to claim citizenship via my paternal grandmother’s father who was born in 1868 in Ontario. Can the citizenship pass through a female ancestor, i.e., from my great grandfather, to his married daughter, to my father, and then to me?

  40. Bob Clark says:

    My grandfather was born in Nova Scotia in 1877 and my grandmother in Nova Scotia in 1882 and both grew up there. Both of their families then moved to the United States before 1900, apparently for economic reasons. My father (their son) was born in the U.S. in 1923, however, never claimed his Canadian citizenship. I was born in the U.S in 1949. Can I claim Canadian citizenship by descent since my father would have been considered a Canadian citizen when he was born? It seems confusing with the new changes.

  41. Patricia Read says:

    Both of my parents were born in Canada, 1915 and 1919. Toronto and Winipeg .Do I qualify? I was born in the good ole USA

  42. Zack says:

    Paternal great grandfather and great grandmother were Canadian. They emigrated to the United States in the 1930’s. Am I eligible for Canadian Citizenship?

  43. Donna says:

    My father was born in the uk but has lived in canada for over 30 years and has canadian citizenship. I still live in the uk with my 17 year old son. Can we get canadian citizenship/passport by descent?

  44. Mark says:

    Hello, the newer laws are confusing. My great grandfather and grandmother were born in Quebec Canada and have both since passed away. My father was born in the US to my Canadian grandmother. I know my father is eligible for citizenship and he would like to obtain citizenship. I would like to know if I, as the great grandson/ grandson of Canadian citizens if I am eligible? I was born in the US in 1973. As stated my father does not have Canadian citizenship yet and I am not sure if he will be moving there.

  45. Ix says:

    My mother’s grandparents were both born in Ontario, but her parents were both born in Chicago, and she was born in Niagra Falls (US side). Would she qualify for citizenship?

  46. Rita Gunning says:

    I am Canadian by birth but my daughter was born in the UK in 1995. She held a certificate of Canadian board abroad and had a Canadian passport but did not keep it up to date. Are her 3 children born in Scotland (2003, 2005 & 2008) eligible for Canadian citizenship?

  47. Rita Gunning says:

    *That’s born abroad!

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