How to become a dual citizen of Canada?

26 Apr 2024


On December 23, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court's ruling against the second-generation citizenship cut-off in Canada potentially gave over 200,000 Americans with Canadian grandparents the right to claim Canadian citizenship and become dual citizens of Canada and the USA. 

This ruling also elevated interest in dual citizenship and its pros and cons.  The “Canada & the US Dual Citizenship” blog addressed dual citizenship from the US Citizenship laws and US government guidelines.  This blog addresses Canadian and dual citizenship issues based on Canadian citizenship laws and rules.

Since 1977, Canada has recognized multiple citizenships.  Canadian citizens have the right to hold citizenship in more than one country.  A person is a Canadian dual citizen if she/he is a citizen of Canada and another country at the same time.

Canadian Permanent residents who have obtained Canadian citizenship through naturalization also have the right to retain their previous nationality.  However, dual citizenship is available only when the governments of both countries permit dual citizenship for the citizens.  Dual or multiple citizenships are not allowed or recognized by all countries.  In these cases, Canadian permanent residents must choose between Canadian citizenship or their previous citizenship.

Most people obtain their first citizenship by being born in the country (birthright Citizenship) or by getting Citizenship by descent because of the parents’ citizenship. 


Among the 174 countries with nationality laws data available for 2016, 39 of them, or about 1 in 4, grant citizenship to people born in the country, barring exceptions to children of diplomat parents.  It’s the most common practice for the countries in the Americas: Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, among others, all follow this practice.” (Youyou Zhou, "One in four countries around the world grant birthright citizenship", Quartz, October 30, 2018.)

Obtaining a second citizenship (becoming a dual citizen) typically requires following a specific legal process that may include completing an application, taking a citizenship test, language skill, residency requirements, background check, taking an oath of citizenship and paying the required fees.  Often, people obtain a second citizenship through naturalization, descent, marriage, or adoption.

Who has the right to Canadian citizenship?

  • The Jus soli principle: Under the Jus soli principle, most children born in Canada are regarded as Canadian citizens (CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP ACT). A birth certificate issued by a provincial or territorial government is proof of Canadian citizenship for a child born in Canada. The principle applies as long as the child is born on Canadian soil, airspace, waters, and ships or aircraft registered in Canada, regardless of the parent's nationality and status in Canada.

However, the jus soli principle is not applied to a child born to diplomats of a foreign government and living in Canada; consequently, the foreign diplomat’s child born in Canada isn’t entitled to Canadian citizenship. 

Also, under Canadian law, children born in Canada of foreign representatives do not acquire citizenship by birth.

  • Naturalization: A good-standing permanent resident of Canada who meets Canadian citizenship requirements (residency, language skills, passing citizenship test, etc.) is eligible to become a Canadian citizen. (Canadian Citizenship by Naturalization)
  • Descent: A person born outside Canada and one of his/her parents was a Canadian citizen at birth has a birthright to Canadian citizenship. (Canadian Citizenship by Descent)
  • Adoption: Children born outside Canada and adopted by Canadian citizens are eligible for a grant of Canadian citizenship. (Canadian Citizenship for your adopted child)


What Are the Pros and Cons of Canadian Dual Citizenship?

A significant advantage of Canadian dual citizenship is obtaining a Canadian Passport, which is one of the many countries in the world that accept dual citizenship.  Other advantages of Canadian dual citizenship include the following:

  • Right to live and work in either country
  • Right to own property in either country
  • Having access to both country social programs and services e.g. health, retirement e.g.
  • Passing both citizenship to your children
  • Protection of both countries when travelling internationally.
  • Voting and being involved in political activities in both countries.

Possible disadvantages of dual citizenship

  • In certain situations, you may be taxed in both countries. Many countries have harmonized tax systems (Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and EU Countries) to prevent double taxation or tax evasion.
  • Being subject to the laws of both countries—for example, laws governing military service and criminal or family laws.


Related Stories:

Descendent of Canadian Born Abroad regain their rights to Canadian Citizenship

Canada & the USA Dual Citizenship

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