Disclaimer: This page provides general information about Canadian citizenship programs and the application process. The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you the correct information, it is provided on an “as is” basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The information provided on the Canadacitizenshiphelp.ca website is not a substitute for professional or legal advice but general information on issues commonly encountered when dealing with Canadian carriership programs and applications. Canadacitizenshiphelp.ca does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any of the information provided below.
What is a citizenship certificate?
A Canadian citizenship certificate is a document that proves that a person is a Canadian citizen. It can be issued to a person born in Canada, to a person born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, or to a permanent resident (a landed immigrant) who has been granted Canadian citizenship.
The citizenship certificate is a letter-sized paper document that was introduced in February 2012 and that replaces the former wallet-sized version. Citizenship certificates issued before February 1, 2012, continue to be valid. The citizenship certificate contains your family and given names, date of birth, gender, and the effective date of citizenship. The citizenship certificate is not a travel document. Any Canadian citizen wanting to travel internationally must obtain a Canadian passport.
Who has a right to Canadian citizenship?
- If you were born in Canada, you are a Canadian citizen. Your Canadian birth certificate is proof of your citizenship.
- If you are a good standing permanent resident of Canada and meet Canadian citizenship requirements (residency, language skills, passing citizenship test, etc.), you are eligible to become a Canadian citizen.
- If you were born outside Canada and one of your parents was a Canadian citizen at the time of your birth, you have a birthright to Canadian citizenship.
- If your child was born outside Canada, and you or the other parent was a Canadian citizen when the child was born, your child has a birthright to Canadian citizenship.
- Children born outside Canada and adopted by Canadian citizens are eligible for a grant of Canadian citizenship.
- If you were born outside Canada and one of your grandparents was a Canadian citizen when you were born, you might have a birthright to Canadian Citizen.
Why do I need a Canadian citizenship certificate?
Obtaining a Canadian citizenship certificate allows you to;
- Live, study or work in Canada without needing any permits.
- Obtain a Canadian passport;
- Obtain a driver’s license, an enhanced driver’s license, or an enhanced identity card;
- Access government services such as health care or a pension, or obtain a Social Insurance Number.
What documents are accepted as proof of citizenship?
The following documents are recognized by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) as proof of citizenship. Some government departments or agencies may not accept all the documents listed below and may require additional documents.
- Provincial or territorial birth certificates (for people born in Canada, unless you were born after February 14, 1977, and at the time of your birth, your parents were neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents, and at least one parent had diplomatic status in Canada. If you were born in Canada before February 15, 1977, to a parent with diplomatic status, please contact us for more information on eligibility.
- Citizenship certificates (some people born outside Canada between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, inclusively, to a Canadian parent who was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, were required to take steps before their 28th birthday in order to keep their citizenship. This is known as “retention” of one’s citizenship. If they did not take the necessary steps to retain their citizenship, it was automatically lost under the 1977 Citizenship Act. If you think this may apply to you and you need more information, please contact us.
- Naturalization certificates (issued before January 1, 1947)
- Registration of Birth Abroad certificates (issued between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, inclusively)
- Certificates of retention (issued between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, inclusively)
Who can apply for a citizenship certificate?
Any Canadian citizen is entitled to apply for a citizenship certificate. Citizens born in Canada may apply for a citizenship certificate if they wish, although provincial or territorial birth certificates are frequently sufficient to prove Canadian citizenship.
If you wish to confirm your status as a Canadian citizen, update your citizenship certificate or replace a lost, destroyed, or stolen certificate, you must apply for it.
How do I apply for Canadian citizenship?
To apply for Canadian citizenship as an adult through naturalization, you must:
To apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate, you should complete the Application for a Citizenship Certificate.
What are the requirements for becoming a Canadian citizen through naturalization?
To apply for Canadian citizenship as an adult through naturalization, you must:
- Be a permanent resident of Canada;
- be 18 years of age or older;
- have lived in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the four years before the date you sign your application (time spent residing in Canada prior to acquiring permanent residence maybe counts as a half-day of residence);
- have adequate knowledge of either English or French;
- have adequate knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship;
- not be under a removal order (in other words, the Government of Canada has not ordered you to leave the country);
- not be a security risk;
- not be criminally prohibited; and
- attend a ceremony and take the oath of citizenship
I’ve lost my citizenship card/certificate. How do I replace it?
If your certificate was lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed, you should complete the application for a Lost or Damaged Citizenship Certificate.
I have legally changed my name. Do I need to change my name on my Canadian citizenship certificate?
- If you change your last name because of marriage, you don’t need to change your name on your citizenship card or certificate.
- If you legally changed your name, you should apply for a new Canadian Citizenship certificate with your new name on it. To change your name on your current citizenship certificate you should provide linking documents showing the use of both old and new names, and the basis for the change. You could provide one of the following documents:
- Provide a copy of a legal change of name document, or
- An adoption order indicating your new name,
- Marriage certificate or divorce judgment
- If residing outside Canada, a legal change of name document issued by the responsible government authority in your country of residence. The document should in French or English.
- If you are requesting a name change that is not significant (for example a slight change in spelling), you should provide a copy of one of the following documents that read exactly the same as the name you are requesting:
- a provincial health card, or
- a provincial driver’s license, or
- an official school record issued by the provincial department responsible for education, or
- if residing outside Canada, birth certificate or foreign passport or foreign national identity card.
To change your name on a Canadian citizenship certificate, you should complete the application for Correction to Citizenship Certificate.
Date of birth correction
The date of birth on your citizenship certificate should be the same as the one shown on your previous citizenship certificate if you had one, or your birth certificate or foreign passport unless:
- For former permanent residents of Canada, you have corrected your date of birth on your immigration document, or
- You have legally changed it, or
- You are requesting a different date of birth for your citizenship certificate and you can provide supporting documents.
- If you have legally changed your date of birth by a provincial/territorial court order, you should provide a copy of the provincial/territorial court order changing your date of birth If you are residing outside Canada and you have legally changed your date of birth by court order outside Canada
To make corrections on a Canadian citizenship certificate, you should complete the application for a Correction to Citizenship Certificate.
What should I do if I need a citizenship certificate urgently?
Citizenship certificates may be issued on an urgent basis to Canadian citizens who demonstrate an urgent need to have their applications processed. Every urgent application will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Is it possible that I am not a Canadian citizen?
In general, if you were born in Canada, you are a Canadian citizen.
If you were born in Canada after February 14, 1977, and at the time of your birth, your parents were not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and at least one parent had diplomatic status in Canada, you are not a citizen.
If you were born in another country:
- In general, you are a Canadian citizen if you became a citizen through the naturalization process in Canada (i.e., you were a permanent resident [a landed immigrant] before you became a citizen).
- In general, you are a Canadian citizen if you were born outside Canada and one of your parents was a Canadian citizen at the time of your birth and if that parent was either born in Canada or naturalized in Canada (”naturalized” means that the parent was a permanent resident [a landed immigrant] before becoming a citizen). You are the first generation born outside Canada.
- You may be a Canadian citizen if you were born outside Canada between January 1, 1947, and April 16, 2009, inclusively to a Canadian parent who was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent (you are the second or subsequent generation born outside Canada).
- If you were a British subject residing in Canada when the Canadian Citizenship Act came into force on January 1, 1947, or you were born outside Canada to a British subject parent who might have become a citizen on that date, contact us to find out how to confirm whether or not you are a citizen.
If you think that one of the situations above may apply to you and you are uncertain about your Canadian citizenship status, we encourage you to call us at 1-888-808-0455 or contact us.
How can I find out if a citizenship certificate was ever issued to me?
A search of citizenship records can confirm if you were or were not issued a citizenship certificate. Some individuals apply for a Search of Records to obtain a letter from CIC to use to prove to another government or organization whether or not they were issued a citizenship certificate in the past. For example, foreign nationals who are applying to renew a foreign passport sometimes need proof that they never received a citizenship certificate.
Why do some citizenship certificates have an expiry date?
Beginning January 1, 2007, expiry dates were included on the citizenship certificates of people born outside Canada on February 15, 1977, or after, to a Canadian parent who was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent. This was to serve as a reminder to these people that they were required to take steps before their 28th birthday in order to retain their citizenship. On April 17, 2009, the Citizenship Act changed and people who had not already turned 28 by that date no longer had to take any steps to retain their citizenship.
If your citizenship certificate has an expiry date of April 17, 2009, or after, you do not have to take any steps to retain your citizenship. You will still have Canadian citizenship even after the expiry date on your certificate. However, your certificate is no longer valid and you should apply for a new citizenship certificate.
Why some citizenship are certificates wallet-sized, bearing a photograph, and others letter-sized, bearing no photograph?
On February 1, 2012, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada introduced a new citizenship certificate – a letter-sized document bearing no photograph. Like the previous plastic wallet-sized citizenship certificate (a card with a photograph), the new citizenship certificate is a legal document that will be used to determine Canadian citizenship status. It is not a travel or identity document.
Citizenship certificates issued before February 1, 2012, remain valid. This means that any Canadian who currently holds a citizenship certificate does not need to apply for a replacement.
Do I become a Canadian when I marry a Canadian?
No. Marriage to a Canadian citizen does not give you citizenship. You must first apply for and get permanent resident status. Then you must apply for Canadian citizenship and meet the same requirements as any other person seeking Canadian citizenship.
Do I lose my Canadian citizenship if I become a citizen of another country or if I live outside of Canada for a long time?
Under Canadian law, you can be both a Canadian citizen and a citizen of another country. Canadian citizens don’t lose their Canadian citizenship by living outside of Canada or becoming a citizen of another country. However, some countries won’t let you keep their citizenship if you become a Canadian citizen.
How to notarize a copy of your documents?
To have a photocopy of a document certified, an authorized person must compare the original document to the photocopy and must print the following on the photocopy:
- “I certify that this is a true copy of the original document”,
- the name of the original document,
- the date of the certification,
- his or her name,
- his or her official position or title, and
- his or her signature.
Who can certify copies of documents?
Persons authorized to certify copies include the following:
- In Canada:
- a commissioner of oaths
- a notary public
- a justice of the peace
- Outside Canada:
- a judge
- a magistrate
- a lawyer
- a notary public
- an officer of a court of justice
- a commissioner authorized to administer oaths in the country in which the person is living
Family members may not certify copies of your documents.