Proof of citizenship for travel and government services

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Canadian citizens should be cautioned that if they plan to travel to Canada on the basis of a foreign passport (possible TRV required) and a Canadian citizenship certificate, they may face delays or even refusal of boarding if the airline has doubts about the validity of their citizenship certificate.

As a result, the Canadian passport is the best document for commercial international air travel to Canada by a Canadian.

The following documents are proof of Canadian citizenship for the purpose of international travel:

The following documents are evidence of Canadian citizenship:

  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship (Issued on or after February 1, 2012: 8.5 x11 paper format or the wallet-sized card issued before February 1, 2012);
  • Canadian provincial/territorial birth certificates;
  • Canadian Certificate of Naturalization (issued before January 1, 1947):
  • Certificate of Retention of Canadian Citizenship (issued between January 1, 1947 to February 14, 1977);
  • Canadian Certificate of Registration of Birth Abroad (issued between January 1, 1947 to February 14, 1977).

These documents must be supported by other Canadian government issued photo-identification. Document screening personnel must be satisfied that the passenger is the rightful holder of the document. If there is doubt about the identity or citizenship of the holder of these documents, the holder can be referred to the nearest Canadian mission for verification of Canadian citizenship and the issuance of a Canadian passport.

Proof of citizenship: acceptable documents for providing services and benefits

In general, for persons born in Canada, a provincial or territorial birth certificate, or a certificate of citizenship is accepted as proof of citizenship. For persons who acquired citizenship through naturalization, a certificate of naturalization or a certificate of citizenship is accepted as proof of citizenship.

The following documents are acceptable as proof of Canadian citizenship: 

  • For persons born outside Canada to a Canadian parent: proof of citizenship is a certificate of citizenship.
  • For those subject to retention under section 8 who have turned 28 years old a citizenship certificate is not proof of citizenship unless accompanied by a retention certificate.
  • For those registered between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977, a Registration of Birth Abroad certificate is accepted as proof of citizenship. Also, the certificate of retention issued between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977 is accepted as proof of citizenship.

For those registered between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977, a Registration of Birth Abroad certificate is accepted as proof of citizenship. Also, the certificate of retention issued between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977 is accepted as proof of citizenship.

For persons born outside Canada on or after February 15, 1977 to a Canadian parent who are subject to retention under section 8 and turned 28 years old before April 17, 2009, the citizenship certificate is not proof of citizenship unless accompanied by a retention certificate.

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