Determine your eligibility — Adoption citizenship process

To be eligible for a direct grant of Canadian citizenship, the adopted person must:

  • not be a Canadian citizen,
  • have at least one (1) adoptive parent who, at the time of their adoption, was or is a Canadian citizen, or for adoptions that took place prior to January 1, 1947, the person had to have at least one adoptive parent who became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador for adoptions that took place prior to April 1, 1949),
  • not be subject to the first generation limit to citizenship by descent (unless eligible to benefit from one of the exceptions to the first generation limit), and
  • meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act.

The first generation limit to Canadian citizenship by descent applies to foreign-born individuals adopted by a person who was a Canadian citizen at the time of the adoption, as well as to those whose adoption took place prior to January 1, 1947 by a person who became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947 (or after April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador). This means that children born outside Canada and adopted by a Canadian citizen are not eligible for a grant of Canadian citizenship under section 5.1, the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act, if:

  • their adoptive Canadian citizen parent was born outside Canada to a Canadian citizen; or
  • their adoptive Canadian citizen parent was granted Canadian citizenship under section 5.1, the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act

unless their adoptive Canadian citizen parent or grandparent was employed as described in one of the following exceptions to the first generation limit.

There are two exceptions to the first generation limit:

  1. at the time of the person’s adoption, either of the person’s adoptive parents was employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province or territory, other than as a locally engaged person (a Crown servant);
  2. at the time of either of the adoptive parents’ birth or adoption, one of their parents (the adopted person’s grandparents) was employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province or territory, other than as a locally engaged person (a Crown Servant).

Not sure about which process to use? Read about the differences between the citizenship and the immigration processes for adoption.

Requirements for intercountry adoption

If you are adopting a child under 18 years of age

When a Canadian citizen adopts a child under 18 years of age, the adoption must meet the following requirements in order for the child to be granted citizenship:

  • The adoption must be in the best interests of the child.
  • The adoption will create a genuine relationship of parent and child.
  • The adoption is in accordance with the laws of the place where the adoption took place and the laws of the country of residence where the adoptive parents reside.
  • The adoption must not have been entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship.
  • The adoption must not have occurred in a manner that circumvented the legal requirement for international adoptions.

If you are adopting a person 18 years of age or older

When a Canadian citizen adopts a person over 18, the adoption must meet the following requirements in order for the person to be granted citizenship:

  • A genuine relationship of parent and child between the person and the adoptive parent existed before the person attained the age of 18 years and at the time of the adoption.
  • The adoption is in accordance with the laws of the place where the adoption took place and the laws of the country of residence where the adoptive parents reside.
  • The adoption must not have been entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship.
  • The adoption must not have occurred in a manner that circumvented the legal requirement for international adoptions.

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