Canadian Citizenship by Birth

If you were born in Canada or born to Canadian parents, it is likely that you would have gained Canadian citizenship status.

For more information about Canadian citizenship, how to determine if you’re a Canadian citizen and what options are available to you if you are, reach out to one of our immigration advisers on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

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    Overview of Canadian Citizenship by Birth

    Canada is one of the few countries in the world that operates on the principle of ‘jus soli’.

    Also known as birthright citizenship, this principle states that anyone who is born on Canadian soil automatically becomes a Canadian citizen.

    This occurs even if neither of the child’s parents are Canadian citizens or residents themselves.

    There are also a few cases where a child automatically gains Canadian citizenship even if they weren’t born in Canada. However, these vary greatly depending on when the child was born, and what the circumstances surrounding the status of the parents were at the time of birth.

    It is also possible for a birth in Canada not to result in the child automatically gaining citizenship.

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    Canadian Citizenship for Births Inside Canada

    As stated in the Canadian Citizenship Act, any child born in Canada automatically has the right to Canadian citizenship.

    This is regardless of the citizenship or residency status of the biological parents.

    Because of this, it is entirely possible for non-Canadian foreign nationals to travel to Canada and give birth in order to confer Canadian citizenship to their child.

    Although the child would technically have right of residence in Canada in this instance, they would most often return to their parents’ home country unless the parents decide to stay in Canada on a temporary resident visa, or an electronic travel authorization (eTA).

    The child would then have the option later in life to travel to Canada and take advantage of the citizenship conferred to them at birth.

    There is one situation where a child born in Canada would not automatically gain citizenship. If a Canadian born child has one or more parents who were foreign diplomats employed in Canada by a foreign government, the child born in Canada would not be granted citizenship.

    Canadian Citizenship for Births Outside Canada

    Children Born Prior to 2009

    If a child was born outside of Canada prior to 1977, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account that prevent the topic of citizenship from being a simple one. For example, conferral of citizenship can depend on:

    • If one or more parents were considered Canadian at the time of birth
    • How the parents gained citizenship, if at all
    • If the birth was registered with the Canadian government and if the child received a Registration of Birth Abroad certificate or other document
    • If the child was a British subject if they were born before 1 April, 1949

    If a child was born outside of Canada between 15 February, 1977 and 17 April, 2009, they will be a Canadian citizen if at least one of their parents was also a Canadian citizen at the time of birth.

    Children Born After 2009

    For children born outside of Canada from 17 April, 2009 onwards, Canadian citizenship can only be passed down one generation. This means that if the child wasn’t already a Canadian citizen by April 17, 2009, and was born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, they will not be Canadian if their Canadian parent was:

    • Also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent
    • Granted Canadian citizenship under section 5.1, the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act

    This means that a child who belongs to the second generation of children born to a Canadian parent abroad would not be entitled to citizenship.

    Instead, Canadian citizenship would only be granted to a person born outside of Canada if at least one of the legal parents or biological parents either:

    • Was born in Canada, or
    • Became a naturalized citizen before the child was born

    Also, as of July 2020, non-biological parents can now pass down their Canadian citizenship to their children who were born outside Canada if they’re the child’s legal parent at birth (i.e. if their name is on the child’s birth certificate).

    What Are the Exceptions to the First Generation Limit?

    There are some exceptions to the first generation limit rule. Children born outside of Canada in the second or later generation may instead be entitled to citizenship if:

    • At the time of the child’s birth, their Canadian parent was employed outside Canada, other than as a locally engaged person (a crown servant):
      • With the Canadian Armed Forces
      • With the federal public administration
      • With the public service of a province or territory
    • At the time of the child’s Canadian parent’s birth or adoption, their Canadian grandparent was employed outside Canada, other than as a locally engaged person (a crown servant):
      • In the Canadian Armed Forces
      • With the federal public administration
      • With the public service of a province or territory

    The rules may also affect children with Canadian adoptive parents outside Canada, depending on how the child got, or will get, citizenship.

    Get in touch with our immigration lawyers for assistance with your Canadian citizenship queries today. Contact Us

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      What Were the Changes Made to Citizenship by Birth in 2015?

      In 2015, the Canadian government made a number of changes to the Canadian citizenship Act.

      At this time, people became Canadian citizens if they were:

      • Born or naturalized in Canada before 1 January, 1947, but stopped being a British subject and didn’t become a citizen on that date
        • In Newfoundland and Labrador this date is 1 April, 1949
      • Born outside Canada in the first generation before 1 January, 1947, to a parent described above
        • In Newfoundland and Labrador this date is 1 April, 1949
      • Born outside Canada in the first generation before 1 January, 1947, to a parent who became a citizen on that date and the candidate didn’t become a citizen on that date
        • In Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949
      • Foreign-born and adopted before January 1, 1947, and at least one adoptive parent became a Canadian citizen on that date and the adoptive parent is eligible to pass on citizenship by descent
        • In Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949

      How Can I Check If I’m a Citizen or Prove My Citizenship?

      If you’d like to quickly check if you’re likely to be a Canadian citizen or not, you can use the Canadian government’s ‘Am I a Canadian?’ questionnaire tool online.

      Here, you’ll be asked various questions about the circumstances of your birth and your parents’ birth, citizenship, immigration and marriage status.

      However, note that this online questionnaire is only for reference and cannot be used as proof of citizenship.

      The only way to officially prove your citizenship status is to apply for a citizenship certificate from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

      You can apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate if you want to:

      • Pass down your Canadian citizenship to your child who was born outside Canada
      • Provide a document that proves your Canadian citizenship (such as to apply for a passport, job, pension, social insurance number, etc.)
      • Ensure that you’re a Canadian citizen

      You’ll need to provide a range of documentation and proof regarding you and your parents in order to receive a citizenship certificate.

      Canadian citizenship certificates cost CAN$ 75 to obtain.

      How Can Total Law Help?

      Canadian citizenship by birth can be a tricky issue due to the changes in laws that have occurred in the past few decades and the difficulty in determining citizenship in complex cases.

      If you require assistance with the issue of your Canadian citizenship status or have any questions, concerns or queries about your legal status in Canada, Total Law can help.

      We are expert legal advisers who specialise in Canadian immigration law. We can help you with your journey to Canadian citizenship, assisting you with the process of determining where you stand in regards to the Canadian citizenship law, taking into account your genealogy and parental history, as well as your own background and what your inherent rights are.

      We can also help if you’re a Canadian permanent resident looking to apply for citizenship through the process of naturalization or if you wish to apply for a Canadian passport.

      For more information about the services we offer and what we can do for you, speak to one of our legal experts at +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                It usually takes around 17 months to apply for, and receive, a citizenship certificate.

                However, you may be able to apply for urgent processing if you need to receive your certificate more quickly due to some special circumstances, such as to:

                • Access benefits such as:
                  • A pension
                  • Health care
                  • A Social Insurance Number
                • Prove you’re a Canadian citizen to get a job
                • Travel to or from Canada because of a death or serious illness in your family

                You must also provide with your application:

                • An explanation letter
                • Supporting documents, such as:
                  • Your plane ticket or itinerary, with proof of payment
                  • A letter from your employer
                  • A letter from your school
                  • A doctor’s note
                  • A death certificate

                Note that even if you qualify for urgent processing, there will be no guarantee that you’ll receive your certificate on time.

                If you’re missing information that IRCC ask you on the citizenship application form, you will need to write ‘unknown’ in the spaces provided. If it doesn’t apply to your parents or grandparents, write ‘not applicable’ or ‘NA’.

                Note that if IRCC don’t have enough information about your parents or grandparents, your application may be delayed and/or they may not be able to assess your claim.

                Yes, Canada allows dual and even multiple citizenships. This means that you’re allowed to take citizenship in other countries without having to renounce your Canadian citizenship.

                However, you must check that other countries you wish to become citizens in also allow dual or multiple citizenships.

                If you were born to a Canadian parent and aren’t eligible for citizenship by descent due to the first generation limit, you may either:

                • Apply for and get permanent residence and wait until you’re eligible to acquire Canadian citizenship by naturalization, or
                • Submit an application for a grant of citizenship under section 5 of the Citizenship Act