Types of citizenship certificates
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Over the years, different types of citizenship certificates have been given out to new citizens. The following information describes the various types of citizenship certificates and documents given to new citizens over time.
On this page
- Timeline of accepted certificates
- Documents not accepted as proof of citizenship
- Proof of citizenship date needed
Timeline of accepted certificates
Unless otherwise stated, these certificates are accepted as proof of citizenship in Canada.
February 1, 2012 to present (Citizenship Act)
The current Canadian citizenship certificate is:
- accepted as proof of citizenship
- given to both “Grant” and “Proof” citizenship applicants
Slightly different versions of this certificate have been issued since 2012, but all versions are printed on 8½ x 11-inch paper and have the following information on them:
- certificate number
- given and family names
- date of birth (DOB) and sex
- client’s numerical unique client identifier
- effective date of citizenship
- bar codes
January 1, 1996 to January 31, 2012 (Citizenship Act)
Laminated, wallet-sized citizenship card and the commemorative certificate
During this time, “Grant” and “Proof” applicants received a wallet-sized citizenship card that featured:
- photo of the applicant
- signature of the applicant
- name, sex, DOB
- date the card was printed (Month/Year)
“Grant” applicants also received a commemorative certificate of no legal value. There are many versions, but it was generally a paper document (8 x 11, or 7½ x 8) that displayed the name of the applicant (and sometimes the number on the laminated certificate) and the date that the oath was taken, which is the effective date of citizenship.
Note: Wallet-sized laminated citizenship cards are accepted as proof of citizenship, but commemorative certificates are not accepted as proof of citizenship.
February 15, 1977 to December 31, 1995 (Citizenship Act)
Laminated wallet-sized citizenship card and the commemorative certificate
During this time, “Grant” and “Proof” applicants were both given a wallet-sized laminated citizenship card and a commemorative certificate.
Certificates of retention and renunciation are also issued under this Act
January 1, 1947 to February 14, 1977 (Canadian Citizenship Act)
Certificate of Canadian citizenship
As of January 1, 1947, certificates of Canadian citizenship were issued. Several types or series of Canadian citizenship certificates and other documents were issued under this Act. Different versions of each type of document were used over the years.
Certificates of Canadian citizenship were issued to people who became Canadian citizens, resumed citizenship or required proof of citizenship. The large paper certificate was valid as proof of citizenship. Beginning in 1954, “miniature” certificates (laminated cards) were also given out with the large paper certificate.
Registration of birth abroad certificate
Issued to a child born outside Canada between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977 to a Canadian responsible parent, and registered within that period.
Responsible parent was defined as meaning the father, except where the child was born out of wedlock and was living with the mother, or where the mother was widowed or had been awarded legal custody of the child by court order.
Certificate of retention
Issued to people born outside Canada to a Canadian responsible parent, and who made a declaration of retention to satisfy the provisions of the Act.
Issued with large certificates for use by the Passport Office.
British certificates of naturalization
Before 1947, certificates of naturalization were granted in Canada under British legislation by various provincial and territorial courts. The Naturalization Act, known as the “Imperial Act”, came into force on January 1, 1915, replacing what had been known as the “Local Act”. The “Imperial Act” authorized a 3-year transition period (ending December 31, 1917), during which both local and imperial certificates were granted.
Local certificates (1868–1915)
Certificates were issued to aliens who became British subjects and to “statutory aliens” (British subjects who had become aliens and applied for re-admission to British subject status). The wife of a person to whom a local certificate was granted automatically acquired British subject status. However, she is not deemed to be a person to whom a certificate was granted or whose name was included on a certificate.
Alien children who were minors at the time of their father’s naturalization (or mother’s, if a widow) and who entered Canada before January 1, 1915, are deemed to have been included in the local naturalization of their father (or mother, if a widow).
Imperial certificates (1915–1946)
Certificates had a uniform look, but a different series of certificates (A through K) was issued depending on the circumstances.
Section 4 of the Naturalization Act provided for the grant of a certificate to an adult alien.
A wife was included in a certificate granted before January 15, 1932 and, she acquired British subject status. Although the name of the wife may appear on a Series A certificate issued after that date, she is not deemed to have been included in the certificate nor did she acquire British subject status.
Minor children were not included on Series A certificates. In some cases, the names of children were added in the margin of the certificate at a later date, which gave the child British subject status as of the date it was added. This did not permit automatic acquisition of Canadian citizenship under paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Canadian Citizenship Act, 1947, as the child was not included in a parent’s certificate. It is possible, however, that a claim could be established under another paragraph of section 9.
Section 7 of the Naturalization Act provided for the grant of a certificate to an adult alien, which included minor children. If the names of the children were added in the margin of the certificate after the certificate was granted, these children acquired British subject status on the date their names were added.
As with a Series A certificate, a wife was included in a Series B certificate granted before January 15, 1932. Although the name of the wife may appear on a Series B certificate granted after that date, she is not deemed to have been included in the certificate nor did she acquire British subject status.
Subsection 7(2) of the Naturalization Act provided for the grant of a certificate to a minor at the Minister’s absolute discretion.
Section 6 of the Naturalization Act provided for the grant of a special certificate to remove doubt that a person was a British subject.
Section 8 of the Naturalization Act provided for the grant of a certificate to a person who had been naturalized under a local act.
A wife, although not included in the local certificate or who was married to that person after the local certificate was granted, was included in a Series E certificate up to December 31, 1946.
Minor children were not normally included. In a few cases, the names of minor children were added on the margin of the certificate (see Series A), or included in the body of the certificate (see Series B).
Readmission to British subject status (no children included).
Readmission to British subject status (children included).
Until May 4, 1927, subsection 4(5) of the Naturalization Act referred to widows and divorcees who were British but who had lost British status upon marriage. Under Privy Council directive number 812, May 4, 1927, a special certificate of readmission was granted to former British subjects who had been naturalized in the U.S.A. but who had since returned to and lived in Canada for at least 1 year.
Effective on January 15, 1932, the Series H certificate was issued to the wife of a man naturalized in Canada. Subsection 13(5) of the Naturalization Act required a woman to file a declaration to acquire British nationality within 6 months (or such extended period as the Minister would allow) of the date of her husband’s naturalization.
Effective on January 15, 1932, subsection 13(4) of the Naturalization Act said that a certificate of retention could be granted to a married woman whose husband had ceased to be a British subject. The declaration had to be made within 6 months or, in special cases, longer, with the consent of the Minister.
Subsection 13(6) of the Naturalization Act allowed resumption of British nationality by a British-born woman married to an enemy alien.
Subsection 15(2) of the Naturalization Act allowed resumption of British nationality for a person who had ceased to be a British subject during their minority because their father had ceased to be a British subject. A declaration had to be made within 1 year after attaining majority.
Persons barred by law from securing naturalization in Canada for various reasons were issued certificates in “Form K” so they could apply for patents to homesteads. “Form K” did not give British status to the person to whom it was issued. (See section on Homesteads.)
Settlement in Canada under the free land grant system was established by Order-in-Council in 1871.
The Dominion Lands Act changed the regulations under which homesteads were obtained. The Dominion Lands Act regulations allowed settlement on a 160-acre farm on payment of a $10 registration fee. To receive a patent for the land, the homesteader had to live on and improve it for a specific period.
Before the patent was granted, the settler had to show British subject status. The name on the patent was usually the same as the name on the documents providing proof of British subject status.
Many people applying for British subject status could not read or write. An applicant’s agent or representative may have provided the clerk of the provincial court with a phonetic or anglicized version of the applicant’s name. This accounts for many of the difficulties in locating a record when a request for verification of status is being made.
A provincial land office may be able to provide the name on the patent if the office is given a legal description of the location of the homestead (section, range and township).
This may be enough information to locate and confirm the naturalization record. A “Form K” certificate in connection with a land patent is proof that the person was not a British subject at that time.
Documents not accepted as proof of citizenship
Re-laminated certificates should not be accepted as proof of citizenship. A re-laminated certificate is considered an altered certificate. Re-lamination can obscure embedded security features in the original laminate (for example, ultraviolet features) and could make other tampering (such as photo substitution) difficult to detect. Laminated large certificates should not be accepted as proof of citizenship.
Commemorative certificates cannot be used as proof of citizenship regardless of whether or not they have an effective date on them. The commemorative certificates were issued between February 15, 1977 and January 31, 2012.
Department of National Defence birth certificate (DND 419)
Children born outside Canada to Canadian Forces (CF) personnel had their birth registered with the host country. Instead of a regular birth certificate, they would have been issued an international birth certificate.
The Department of National Defence (DND) instituted, in 1963, a convenient, durable and identifiable Canadian record of birth for dependants born outside Canada to CF personnel. At the same time, a birth certificate, labelled DND 419, was also instituted and became useful as a general proof of age, although it was never accorded legal status.
The Citizenship Act, proclaimed on February 15, 1977, eliminated the requirement to register children born abroad to Canadian parents. With this change, the Secretary of State of Canada ceased to issue/replace the registration of birth abroad certificate as proof of citizenship. Then the DND ceased production of the DND 419 in November 1979.
Note: Because the DND 419 is not a legal citizenship status document, officers cannot confirm citizenship status with it. DND 419 holders must submit an application to obtain a citizenship certificate.
Proof of citizenship date needed
People sometimes require proof of the date they became a citizen of Canada. If they have lost the document that bore the date or received one of the undated commemoratives, they may apply for a search of records, pay the fee and obtain a letter confirming the date.
There is no fee for confirmation of the effective date for undated certificates issued between February 15, 1977 and September 1980. The undated certificate could be a first-time certificate or a replacement certificate, but must be the last-issued certificate for no fee to apply. In this case, the letter issued is a confirmation letter, not a record letter.
If the applicant has paid the required fee for a search of citizenship records, Case Processing Centre in Sydney requests that the fee be refunded to the applicant when the applicant’s last-issued commemorative certificate was an undated one.
Record letters vs. letters of confirmation
A letter of confirmation is not the same as an official record letter, which is sometimes the only document accepted by a foreign government. A letter of confirmation is a standard letter that may not be accepted by a foreign government.
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