Applying for Canadian citizenship if you were born outside of Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: June 3, 2023

If you were born outside Canada and at least one of your biological or legal parents at birth were a Canadian citizen, you may be eligible for Canadian citizenship. You may submit a “proof of Canadian citizenship” application to the Canadian government, which is also known as applying for a Canadian citizenship certificate. Along with the Canadian birth certificate, it is one of only two documents accepted by passport Canada as proof of Canadian citizenship.

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Canada limits citizenship by descent to the first generation born outside Canada or to a Canadian parent. However, you are able to apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate at any time of your life and irrespective if your Canadian parent is alive or deceased.

Who needs proof of citizenship?

A Canadian citizenship certificate can be obtained by any Canadian citizen. However, the document is only really necessary for individuals born outside of Canada to at least one Canadian citizen parent and naturalized Canadians.

Naturalized Canadians are those who applied for citizenship, completed the test, and took the oath. These individuals will need a Canadian citizenship certificate, but they will have received this upon completion of their naturalization process.

Proof of citizenship allows you to enjoy all the benefits afforded to being a Canadian. This includes voting in federal elections, getting a social insurance number (SIN), access to universal health care, getting a driver’s license and holding one of the world’s most powerful passports.

How to apply for Canadian citizenship certificate

In order to apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate, you must download the application package on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website. The application fee is $75 CAD.

IRCC requires evidence that at least of your legal or biological parent at birth was a Canadian citizen.

Accepted evidence includes:

  • Your parent’s birth certificate
  • Your parent’s Canadian citizenship card
  • Your parent’s citizenship certificate

You can submit the application online on IRCC’s website. Once IRCC receives your application, you will receive an “acknowledgement of receipt” and your file will be reviewed and processed. You may check the processing status of your application online, as processing times may vary based on individual circumstances. IRCC may also request additional information or documents.

Schedule a Free Canadian Citizenship Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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