Understanding the need for Proof of Citizenship in Canada
Citizenship is significant for many reasons, including with respect to making people feel at home and comfortable in Canada.
Citizenship in this country also provides a pathway for us to accomplish key goals including, but not limited to, voting in federal elections, obtaining a social insurance number (SIN) and getting a job.
To accomplish the above goals, some Canadians will need to obtain Proof of Citizenship, otherwise known as a Canadian Citizenship Certificate, from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This document “provides definitive proof that you are a citizen of the country.”
Note: The terms “proof of citizenship” and “Canadian citizenship certificate” will be used interchangeably from this point forward.
For the purposes of this explanation, the following distinction is crucial. As an example of what a Canadian citizenship certificate does for people that have one, this document is one of only two pieces— the other being a Canadian birth certificate —accepted by Passport Canada as proof of Canadian citizenship. Conversely, it is similarly important to understand that one thing proof of citizenship is not is a travel document.
Who needs proof of citizenship?
A Canadian citizenship certificate can be obtained by any Canadian citizen who desires one. However, such a document is only truly necessary for:
- Individuals who were born outside of Canada to at least one Canadian-citizen parent
- Naturalized Canadians
Born Outside Canada: In this case, proof of citizenship is required to enjoy the benefits and opportunities afforded to natural-born Canadians. These include, beyond the items indicated earlier, advantages like access to universal healthcare and the ability to attain a driver’s license.
Naturalized Canadians: Canadians who applied for citizenship, completed the test, and took the oath are referred to as naturalized Canadians. They will also need a Canadian citizenship certificate to enjoy the benefits of being a citizen in this country, but that document is something they will have already received upon completion of their naturalization process.
Canadian citizens born inside the country will be able to use their birth certificates as proof of citizenship across the country.
Proof of citizenship eligibility
As mentioned previously, people born outside Canada to at least one parent who was a Canadian citizen prior to their birth are eligible for proof of citizenship, as are naturalized Canadians.
Further to that, the following are some important notes to keep in mind regarding Canadian citizenship certificates:
- Canada limits citizenship by descent to the first generation born outside Canada to a Canadian parent (i.e., only the child, not the grandchild or further downwards, of a Canadian-born parent is deemed eligible for Canadian citizenship by descent)
- As the child of a Canadian-born parent, you are eligible for proof of citizenship whether your parent is alive or deceased
Ineligibility: Children adopted by a Canadian after they are born will need to first become Canadian citizens before being eligible for a Canadian citizenship certificate.
Proof of citizenship application process
The steps one must take to apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate are outlined below.
Step 1: Download the application package available on IRCC’s website
- This step will require proving that one of the applicant’s parents was a Canadian citizen
Step 2: Pay the application fee and submit the application online on IRCC's website
Step 3: Wait for an “acknowledgement of receipt” when IRCC receives your application
Step 4: Wait while your file is reviewed and processed
- Applicants can check the processing status— times vary based on individual file complexity, which may also require IRCC to request additional information/documents —of their application online
- Urgent processing is available in special cases for applicants looking to; access benefits such as healthcare, obtain a social insurance number, start a job, or travel to or from Canada because of an emergency
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