A citizenship certificate is an important document that proves Canadian citizenship for those who have a Canadian parent. This certificate entitles you to all the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as all Canadian citizens. It is also one of only two documents accepted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as proof of Canadian citizenship.
You can obtain proof of Canadian citizenship if you were born outside of Canada and at least one of your biological or legal parents was already a Canadian citizen when you were born. To confirm if you are a citizen, you will need to follow the Canadian government’s process and submit an application.
If you are eligible, there is no age limit or time window in which you need to apply. You can still apply regardless of if your Canadian parent is alive or deceased as long as you are able to prove they were Canadian at time of your birth. One way to do this is with their birth certificate.
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It is worth noting that proof of Canadian citizenship can only be gained by the first generation born outside of Canada to a Canadian parent. For example, if your Canadian mother gives birth to you in a different country you are likely to be eligible to get proof of citizenship, but your children may not be if they are not born in Canada.
Benefits of getting your citizenship certificate
Getting proof of Canadian citizenship means you are eligible to apply for a Canadian passport, one the strongest passports in the world. In fact, it was recently rated the eighth best passport to have by the most recent Global Passport Ranking report by Henley & Partners. Aside from a Canadian birth certificate, a citizenship certificate is the only other proof of citizenship accepted.
If you have a passport, you may enter and leave Canada without restrictions, visas, or permits. You may also hold more than one passport as a dual citizen, provided your home country also allows this.
As a citizen you are also allowed to vote in elections, run for political office and benefit from Canada’s universal healthcare system.
Applying for a citizenship certificate
The first step, if you believe you are eligible for proof of citizenship, is to go on the IRCC website and download the application package.
Along with your form, you will need proof that your parent was a Canadian citizen when you were born. Proof can come in the form of a birth certificate, Canadian citizenship card or your parent’s citizenship certificate. You will also need your own birth certificate and proof of identity.
Once IRCC receives your application, you will get an acknowledgement of receipt and then you will need to wait for IRCC to approve. If you are approved, you will receive a Canadian citizenship certificate.
At present, the IRCC processing time tool estimates that proof of citizenship certificates will be issued within 17 months of receiving a completed application.
IRCC will offer expediated processing in exceptional circumstances such as if an applicant needs to access benefits such as healthcare, a social insurance number or to start a job, or in case of emergency travel to or from Canada.