How to become a Canadian Citizen
Who can become a Canadian citizen
Who cannot become a Canadian citizen
How you can apply to become a Canadian citizen
Other information you may need to know
WHO CAN APPLY TO BECOME A CANADIAN CITIZEN?
You must be 18 years of age or older to apply to become a Canadian citizen.
You must be a Permanent Resident.
You must be in Canada legally as a "permanent resident."
You must have lived here for at least three years
You must have lived in Canada for at least three years out of the four years right before the day you apply. For example, if you are applying for citizenship on 1 June 1997, we will count back to 1 June 1993. The time you spent in Canada BEFORE you became a resident will be counted as half time only if it happened within these four years. All the time you lived in Canada after you became a permanent resident counts as full time. If you came to Canada on a visa (for example on a student or work visa) before becoming a permanent resident, you may call the Call Centre (see below for the numbers) to find out when you can apply for citizenship.
You must know English or French
English and French are the official languages of Canada. You must know enough of either language so that you can understand other people and they can understand you. This means you need to be able to speak and understand spoken English or French or be able to read and write in simple English or French.
You must learn about Canada
You must know about the rights and responsibilities that Canadians have, such as the right to vote. You must also know some things about Canada's history and geography, and about our political system. When we receive your application, we will send you an acknowledgement letter as well as a copy of the free publication A Look at Canada. You should be able to answer questions about all the information in A Look at Canada when you go for your citizenship test.
Applying for children
Children do not need to have lived in Canada for three years. If you are the parent of a child who is under 18 years of age, you may apply for your child as soon as the child receives permanent resident status. To apply for your child, you must already be a Canadian citizen or be applying to become a citizen.
Children do not write the citizenship test.
WHO CANNOT BECOME A CANADIAN CITIZEN?
You cannot become a Canadian citizen if:
you are or were in prison, on parole or on probation in the past four years.
you were convicted of an indictable crime in the past three years; or
you have been charged with a crime -- an indictable offence;
you are under a deportation order and are not allowed to be in Canada now;
you are now charged with an offence under the Citizenship Act;
you are under investigation for a war crime or a crime against humanity; or
your Canadian citizenship has been taken away (revoked) in the past five years.
The above list, however, is not intended to include all prohibitions -- things which could stop you from becoming a Canadian citizen.
The application form has important information on it about "prohibitions." It is important you read this information before you fill in the form.
The Citizenship Act states that you must tell us this information when you apply for citizenship. We will check with the police to find out if you have a criminal record that would keep you from becoming a Canadian citizen. We will also check immigration records to make sure that you are in Canada legally. If you think you may not qualify because you have been charged with a crime or have a criminal record, or if you need any more information on this subject, please contact the Call Centre (see below for the numbers).
HOW DO I APPLY TO BECOME A CANADIAN CITIZEN?
All applications for Canadian Citizenship are processed by mail at Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia. To apply to become a Canadian citizen you must follow these six steps:
1. Make sure you have the right application form.
There are many kinds of citizenship and immigration forms. To apply for citizenship, you must have the "Application for Citizenship" form. If you are applying for children, you need a separate form for each child. The child's form is not the same as an adult's form.
If you do not have the form you need, you can get it by calling the Call Centre. Please be ready to tell us the name, age, date of permanent resident status for everyone you are applying for, full address with postal code and how many adult and children forms you need.
See below for the Call Centre local numbers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal and for the nation-wide toll-free number.
2. Read the "Application for Citizenship" form before you fill it out.
Applying for citizenship costs money. The cost for processing your form and your children's forms is not refundable. Please make sure you are ready to become a citizen before applying.
3. Complete the application form and attach the necessary documents.
The application form comes with instructions. Complete the form and attach photocopies of your documents. You may have to show the original documents at the time of your test, and so remember to bring them with you.
These are the documents you need to include with your adult application:
A photocopy of your immigration landing record (IMM 1000).
A photocopy of two pieces of identification, such as a driver's license, a bank card or a medical card.
Two colour or black-and-white photographs of you that were taken in the past year. The application form for citizenship comes with instructions about the pictures you need. Take the photograph instructions to the photographer and tell the photographer that you want "citizenship photos". The photographs must be stamped on the back with the photographer's name and address and the date the photographs were taken. You cannot wear a head covering when this photograph is taken unless you wear one because of your religion. You must sign the bottom of the photographs on the white strip under the picture. Make sure you sign your usual signature. Check the application form for more important information about the photographs. Children who are 14 or older must also sign their pictures.
A non-refundable processing fee and a refundable Right of Citizenship Fee must be paid at the time of application. The fees can be paid at most financial institutions in Canada and the receipt form (IMM 5401) must be submitted with the application.
If you are applying for a child, you must include a copy of a legal document (for example, the child's birth certificate or legal adoption papers) which shows the names of the parents, or passport listing the children. You will also need to submit the child's immigration paper, passport, two pieces of identification, photos and the fee.
4. Mail the form to us in the envelope that we have provided.
After you have completed the application form, you must mail it in the pre-addressed envelope to:
Case Processing Centre
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
P.O. Box 7000
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6V6
sign and date the form and sign your photos;
include the receipt of payment (form IMM 5401);
include your application;
include your photographs; and
include photocopies of all documents.
If you are applying for more than one person, you should submit all the forms and documents in the same envelope. You may also make payment for the whole family.
5. Get ready.
Your application may take several months to process. You will receive the book A Look at Canada after we receive your application form. You should begin to study A Look at Canada as soon as you receive it to prepare for your citizenship test. You may also want to go to a citizenship class if one is being held near you.
If you meet the basic requirements for citizenship, and are between the ages of 18 and 59, you will be scheduled for the test. We will send you a "Notice to Appear for a Citizenship Test" telling you the date and time when you will be given your test. If you are 60 or older, you do not have to write the test. You may be given a written test or, in some circumstances, an interview. Your answers to the test questions will show whether you know enough English or French and whether you know the information in A Look at Canada.
6. Take the Oath of Citizenship.
If you meet all the requirements to become a Canadian citizen, we will send you a "Notice to Appear to Take the Oath of Citizenship" telling you when and where your citizenship ceremony will take place. If you wish to swear the oath of citizenship on your holy book, please bring it with you to the ceremony.
We will give you your certificate of citizenship at the citizenship ceremony. The certificate is a small card that you can use to identify yourself and to prove that you are a Canadian citizen. We will also give you a commemorative document that shows the date when you became a Canadian. You should keep these documents in a safe place.
We will send you notices in the mail about your citizenship test and about the citizenship ceremony. If we do not hear from you after that, or if you do not show up for your citizenship test or ceremony, we will close your file. You will have to fill in another application form and pay the fee to go through the process again.
What should I do if I move after I apply for citizenship?
You should phone the Call Centre (see below for the numbers). When changing your address be sure to tell us both your old address and your new address.
How much does it cost to become a Canadian citizen?
The fee for adults is $200.00. The fee for children under 18 is $100.00.
What if my application is turned down?
If you do not meet all of the requirements to become a Canadian citizen, we will send you a letter and explain why you cannot become a citizen now and what your next step should be.
Will I get my money back if I am turned down for citizenship?
A part of the fee for an adult application is for the right of citizenship. If you are not granted citizenship, we will send a refund for $100.00.
A child cannot become a citizen unless one of the parents is already a citizen or becomes one. The child's fee is not refundable. Before you apply for your child, make sure you are ready to become a citizen.
How long does it take to become a Canadian citizen?
After we get your application, it usually takes several months before you become a Canadian citizen.
Do children have to write a test?
No. Only people between the ages of 18 and 59 have to write a test. If you are 60 or older you do not have to write the test. However, children over 14 must take the Oath of Citizenship and will be invited to the citizenship ceremony.
Can I apply for a child if I am not the natural parent?
If you have adopted a child, you may apply for the child's citizenship when you apply for yourself or any time after you become a citizen. If you are a legal guardian, the natural or adoptive parent must already be a Canadian citizen before you apply for the child.
I am still a citizen of another country. Will I lose that citizenship if I become a Canadian?
A Canadian is allowed to be a citizen of another country as well. Some countries will not let you keep their citizenship if you become a Canadian. You can find this out from a consulate or embassy of your homeland.
CALL CENTRES AND CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP OFFICES
For more information please phone the Call Centre.
Montreal: (514) 496-1010
Toronto: (416) 973-4444
Vancouver: (604) 666-2171
For all other areas within Canada: 1-888-242-2100
Note: If you are calling from outside Canada, please contact the Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate covering your region.
If you need to know the address of a Citizenship office, please phone the Call Centre.
Case Processing Centre
Case Processing Centre
P.O. Box 7000
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6V6