Citizenship and naturalization records

A person born in another country may apply to become a Canadian citizen, a process called naturalization. The Canadian Citizenship Act came into force on January 1, 1947. Before this point, Canadians were considered British subjects.

Most citizenship and naturalization records from 1854 to the present are held at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Find out how to apply for a search of their citizenship records.

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Before you start

Gather information such as:

  • name
  • approximate year of birth
  • country of birth
  • approximate year of immigration
  • place of residence in Canada

Places to look

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds these records relating to citizenship. They are indexed and digitized in these databases:

Search tips

There may not be a citizenship record for a person because:

  • they were already a British subject prior to arrival in Canada
  • she was a married woman
    • Until 1932, a married woman had the same status as her husband, either a British subject or an alien. If her husband became naturalized, she was automatically included and did not have to apply separately.
  • they were a child
    • Alien children who were minors at the time that their father (or widowed mother) was naturalized were included in the local naturalization of their parent. This changed after 1915, depending on the type of certificate.
  • it was not required
    • Immigrants did not have to become citizens. The exception was if they were applying for a homestead in the western provinces.

Provisions changed over time. If you need more specific details of factors that may have affected your ancestor’s status, refer to the relevant Act.

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