How to Find Out Whether You May Be a Canadian Citizen

July 2, 2024


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Determining whether you qualify for Canadian citizenship is crucial for many individuals seeking clarity on their status. If you were born in Canada, have Canadian parents, or are exploring your immigration history, understanding the criteria for Canadian citizenship is essential. By examining these key factors methodically, you can effectively assess your eligibility and take the necessary steps toward confirming your Canadian citizenship status.

Want to find out if you may be a Canadian citizen? Then, take a look at our process of determining your potential Canadian citizenship status with confidence and clarity.

Canadian Citizenship Law

Canadian citizenship is highly regarded worldwide, granting rights such as voting, running for office, and holding a Canadian passport. For immigrants, citizenship facilitates integration and a sense of belonging in Canada's diverse democracy. Legislative changes for Canadian citizenship in 2009 placed a first-generation limit on citizenship by descent, affecting how Canadian citizenship can be transferred abroad.

Recently, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Minister Marc Miller proposed Bill C-71 to expand citizenship eligibility beyond the first generation, ensuring inclusivity and preserving Canadian citizenship's value. This bill aims to grant citizenship to individuals born abroad to Canadian parents automatically and extends direct citizenship eligibility to foreign-born children adopted by Canadians. Bill C-71 also restored citizenship to Lost Canadians and their descendants, depending on parliamentary approval and royal assent from the Canadian Governor-General.

How Can I Find Out If I am a Canadian Citizen?

Sometimes you might think you became a citizen but did not. Determining Canadian citizenship can be straightforward but challenging. Below are the ways you can find out if you may be a Canadian citizen.

Birth in Canada

This is the simplest way to determine if you are a Canadian citizen. If you were born in Canada, you are automatically a Canadian citizen, regardless of your parent's citizenship status.

Canadian Parent

If at least one of your parents, biological or legal at birth, was a Canadian citizen at the time of your birth, you might be a citizen, even if born outside Canada. This applies under previous and current Citizenship Act provisions as of July 2024.


You can also determine if you are a Canadian citizen by undergoing the formal legal processes of becoming a Canadian citizen through naturalization. Once naturalized, you gain the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, including the ability to vote and obtain a Canadian passport.

Citizenship by Descent (Changes to Consider)

Recent legislative changes regarding Canadian citizenship by descent are important. Previously, a Canadian citizen parent could only pass citizenship to a child born outside Canada if the parent was born in Canada or naturalized before birth.

This first-generation rule is under review, and the government proposes removing it. This means if you are born outside Canada to Canadian citizen parents, you may now be eligible for citizenship regardless of your parent's generation. It is crucial to stay updated on developments in this area.

Canadian Citizenship Granted as a Minor

If a parent or legal guardian applied for your Canadian citizenship as a minor, you are a Canadian citizen. This process ensures that minors can acquire citizenship alongside their parents, securing their rights and privileges as Canadian citizens. Once granted, you enjoy the benefits of Canadian citizenship, including the right to reside and work in Canada and access to healthcare and education.

You may not be a Canadian citizen if you fall under any of the following categories.

Children of Foreign Diplomats

Children born in Canada to foreign diplomats are generally not considered Canadian citizens. This is because their parents are not subject to Canadian law.

Revoked Citizenship

If the Canadian government revokes your citizenship due to specific reasons such as obtaining citizenship through fraud or misrepresentation, engaging in acts against the national interest, or committing serious crimes, you lose your citizenship status.

Renounced Citizenship

If you voluntarily renounce your Canadian citizenship by completing the formal renunciation process at a Canadian embassy or consulate and have not subsequently reapplied for citizenship, you are no longer considered a citizen.

Learn more about the reasons you may not qualify for Canadian citizenship.

Among the ways you may not automatically become a Canadian citizen include the following.

Marriage to a Canadian Citizen

Marrying a Canadian citizen does not automatically grant you citizenship. You must undergo the immigration process to obtain citizenship status, which includes meeting residency and other criteria.

Canadian Adoption

Being adopted by a Canadian citizen does not automatically provide citizenship. However, adoption can significantly affect a child's path toward Canadian citizenship, often requiring additional steps and applications.

Accepted Refugee Claim

While having a refugee claim accepted in Canada allows you to remain in the country, it does not grant automatic citizenship. Instead, it may serve as a precursor to applying for citizenship through established immigration pathways.

Permanent Residency

Living in Canada as a permanent resident does not guarantee you citizenship, even after an extended period. Citizenship in Canada eligibility requirements include meeting specific residency, language, and knowledge criteria, followed by a formal application process.

Birth Outside Canada to Canadian Parents After April 2009

If you were born outside Canada to Canadian parents on or after April 17, 2009, but neither parent was born in Canada or naturalized before birth, you would not automatically be a Canadian citizen under previous Citizenship Act rules. However, the proposed 2024 legislative changes might affect your eligibility.

Which Documents Do I Need to Prove My Canadian Citizenship?

You can become a Canadian citizen without applying to be one in a few ways. In these cases, you may still want to get proof of citizenship. Applying for this is the formal way to determine if you are a citizen.

Documents You Can Use to Prove Your Canadian Citizenship

You can use these documents to prove your Canadian citizenship:

  • Citizenship certificates,
  • Electronic certificates (e-certificates),
  • Paper certificates,
  • Older paper citizenship certificates,
  • Citizenship cards, i.e., IRCC has stopped issuing citizenship cards,
  • Birth certificates,
  • Naturalization certificates.

You can use the proof document to prove your Canadian citizenship when applying for a Canadian passport, a pension or government benefit, a Social Insurance Number (SIN), a job, and more.

Documents You Can Not Use to Prove Your Canadian Citizenship

Some documents have information about your citizenship but need to prove you are Canadian. These documents include:

  • Citizenship record letters,
  • Commemorative certificates,
  • Canadian birth certificate (if one of your parents worked for a foreign government or international organization or held diplomatic privileges).

Canadian Citizenship Certificate

If you are a Canadian citizen without valid proof of citizenship, you can apply for a Canadian Citizenship certificate for 75 CAD. Your Canadian Citizenship Certificate enables you to prove your Canadian citizenship, access services, and benefits, e.g., pension, or apply for a passport. IRCC application processing times for a Canadian Citizenship Certificate are generally three months unless you live outside Canada and the United States.

How Can I Become a Canadian Citizen?

Becoming a Canadian citizen typically involves a multi-step process overseen by IRCC. The general path requires obtaining permanent resident status first. This involves meeting specific eligibility criteria and residing in Canada for a set period.

Once a Canadian permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship if you meet additional requirements like physical presence in Canada, providing proof of sufficient funds, and demonstrating language skills in English or French. The process concludes with a Canadian citizenship test and oath ceremony. It is advisable to consult IRCC resources and consider professional guidance for a smooth application journey.

Learn more about how to become a Canadian citizen.


How Long Does Getting a Canadian Citizenship Certificate Take?

It typically takes about 12 to 18 months to receive a Canadian Citizenship Certificate after submitting a complete application, though processing times may vary.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Citizenship Requirements?

Yes, there are exceptions to citizenship requirements, such as for individuals born to or adopted by Canadian citizens or those who qualify under specific provisions like the Lost Canadians.

Is There a Formal Way to Confirm Citizenship?

Yes, there is a formal process to confirm Canadian citizenship through applications submitted to IRCC, which includes providing relevant documents and meeting eligibility criteria.