Reclaiming an Indigenous name for citizenship and permanent residence at IRCC

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established in 2008 to document the history and lasting impacts of the Canadian Indian Residential School System on Indigenous students and their families. In December 2015, the Commission released its final report with 94 Calls to Action (PDF, 299 KB) to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation.

Specifically, Call to Action #17 called upon “all levels of government to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.”

This page provides direction and procedures to enable clients to reclaim their Indigenous name with the following lines of business:

Learn how to reclaim an Indigenous name on a Canadian passport or travel document.

On this page

Historical records

Historical records are not amended unless a clerical or administrative error has been made by IRCC. These records are

If a clerical or administrative error has been made by IRCC, the officer should follow the instructions in Change of name due to a clerical or administrative error.

Document requirements by line of business

Citizenship

For the citizenship line of business, the following forms and documents are required to reclaim an Indigenous name:

Note: A Canadian citizenship certificate may not be universally accepted for entry or exit by border authorities of another country, especially if the name is different than the name on the client’s other identification, including a passport or travel document. It is the client’s responsibility to verify with the high commission, embassy or consulate of all the countries they intend to visit, transit through or reside in to enquire about entry requirements. Clients who hold dual citizenship should seek a name change on all other passports or travel documents.

Permanent residence

For the permanent residence line of business, the following forms and documents are required to reclaim an Indigenous name:

Note: A permanent resident card may not be universally accepted for entry or exit by border authorities of another country, especially if the name is different than the name on the client’s other identification, including a passport or travel document. It is the client’s responsibility to verify with the high commission, embassy or consulate of all the countries they intend to visit, transit through or reside in to enquire about entry requirements.

Verification of status as an identity-linking document

Clients who reclaim their Indigenous name on their IRCC document with a statutory declaration form are eligible to obtain a verification of status (VOS) to link their previous name to their reclaimed name, free of charge.

Once the client receives their replacement document in their reclaimed name, the client can request a VOS by sending an email to IRCC.VOS-VDS.IRCC@cic.gc.ca. The message should include the following details:

Subject line: Request for VOS as identity-linking document under CTA-17

Considerations

Single names

IRCC recognizes the family name as the primary identifier. If a client obtains a legal change of name with a single name or completes the statutory declaration requesting a single name, the name will be recorded in GCMS in the family name field. The single name will appear in the family name field of the IRCC document.

Accents and characters not found in the Roman alphabet

GCMS can only record characters found in the Roman alphabet and the following French accents: â, à, é, ê, ë, è, ï, î, ô, ü, ù, û, ç. If the legal change of name document or statutory declaration form contains characters of a foreign alphabet, clients will be required to provide an official translation. The IRCC document can only be printed with characters found in the Roman alphabet and the French accents previously mentioned.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: