Find out why you need to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as possible and learn how to do it.
Benefits of Canadian Citizenship
It is recommendable to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as you become eligible. There are many benefits of being a Canadian.
- Visa-free travel. According to Henley & Partners’ 2019 Passport Index, Canada is 6th among countries with access to most visa-free destinations — Canada’s citizens can travel visa-free to 184 countries.
- Permanent status. Once you become a Canadian citizen, you cannot be removed from the country, and you can travel abroad without having to meet residency requirement — as opposed to permanent residents who are not citizens.
- More job options. As a citizen, you will be able to apply for jobs that require high-level security clearance as well as for federal jobs that are open only to citizens.
- Participation in Canada’s political life. As a Canadian citizen, you will be able to vote and run for office in municipal, provincial or federal elections.
- Canadian citizenship for your children. Whether born in Canada or abroad, your children will automatically become Canadian citizens without having to go through all the steps to get citizenship. And if you are a permanent resident, your child will be a Canadian citizen only if he or she is born in Canada.
- Dual or multiple citizenship. Canadian law allows you to hold two or more citizenships, and you do not have to give up your first citizenship in order to become Canadian. Some countries, however, will take away your first citizenship if you become a Canadian citizen. To find out, whether you can keep dual citizenship, contact the embassy or consulate of the country of your first citizenship.
Keep in mind that if you hold dual or multiple citizenship, you might still have obligations to your other country of citizenship, even if you become Canadian. For instance, you may have to serve in the military or pay taxes.
In addition, as a Canadian citizen, you will retain most of the benefits that you were enjoying as a permanent resident — free healthcare, public school education, social services, and more.
To be eligible to become a Canadian citizen, you must:
- Be a permanent resident in Canada. You must not be under review for immigration or fraud reasons, be asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada, have unfulfilled conditions related to your PR status. You can apply with an expired PR card, though
- Have lived in Canada for at least 1095 days (3 years) out of the last 5 years before you apply. Children under age 18 who have a Canadian parent or a parent who is applying for citizenship at the same time do not have to meet this requirement
- Have filed your taxes. You need to have filed taxes in Canada for at least 3 years during the 5 years before the date of your application
- Prove your language skills. If you are 18 to 54 years of age, you must show that you can speak and listen in English or French and meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher. This means you can take part in everyday conversations, use basic grammar, know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself
- Show how well you know Canada. If you’re 18 to 54 years of age, you need to take the citizenship test. You will need to answer 20 questions in English or French about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians and Canada’s history, geography, economy, government, laws, and symbols
- Pass the interview. You should go to an interview with a citizenship official. The interview is usually on the same day as the citizenship test
You are not eligible to apply for citizenship if you:
- Committed a crime in or outside Canada
- Are under a removal order (you have been asked by authorities to leave Canada)
- Have had a citizenship application refused for misrepresentation in the past 5 years or have had your Canadian citizenship taken away because of fraud in the past 10 years
You can check your eligibility online.
How to Apply
If you are between 18 and 54 years of age, you will need the following documents to apply for citizenship:
- Completed, signed and dated application form (CIT 0002)
- Printed results of the online calculator (showing you lived in Canada for at least 3 years out of the last 5 years) or form CIT 0407
- Photocopies of all valid and expired passports or travel documents you had in the past 5 years. The copies should include your name, photo, passport or travel document number, dates of issue and expiration
- Photocopies of two IDs. These can be a copy of your passport or travel document, driver’s license, health insurance card, senior citizen identification card, age of majority card or foreign identity documents (but not your permanent resident card)
- Photocopies of your proof of English or French skills (tests results, diplomas, certificates)
- Two identical citizenship photos that must meet requirements and specifications
- Printed application fee receipt. Adults pay C$630 as fees (including a processing fee of C$530 and right of citizenship fee C$100). Fees for minors are C$100 (there is no processing fee). You can pay online. If more than one member of your family is applying for Canadian citizenship pay the fees altogether
- The Document Checklist (CIT 0007) with each box checked
- Translations of all documents that are not in English or French, with an affidavit from the translator and certified copies of the original documents
- Original police certificates from each country, outside of Canada, where you were for 183 days or more in a row in the 4 years before the application
There may be other documents applied to you. You can get the application package on the Government of Canada’s website.
Send your completed application form, along with all the documents on the checklist, by mail or courier. If you are applying for more than one person and want your applications to be processed at the same time, put all the forms and documents in the same envelope.
Address for regular mail:
Case Processing Centre — Sydney
P.O. Box 7000
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6V6
Address for courier mail:
Case Processing Centre — Sydney
47–49 Dorchester Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 5Z2
When your application is ready to be processed, the Case Processing Centre will send you an acknowledgment of receipt (AoR) with your unique client identifier (UCI). You can check your application status online.
The standard processing time is 12 months since the day Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives a complete application and until it makes a decision. Processing times may vary depending on how complete is your application, whether your information can be easily verified, and other factors.
As more and more people want to immigrate to Canada each year, applications received after IRCC meets their yearly limit may have to wait longer to be processed.
If IRCC approved your application, you should take the Oath of Citizenship to become a Canadian citizen. The ceremony usually takes place within 3 months after IRCC makes a decision on your application.
You must meet all eligibility requirements for citizenship until you take the oath. IRCC can change the decision if you lose your permanent resident status or have been asked to leave Canada.
Approximately 4 weeks before the ceremony, adults and minors aged 14 or over will receive a Notice to Appear with the location and time to attend a citizenship ceremony and take the Oath of Citizenship. Parents get certificates of citizenship for their children under age 14.
When you come to the ceremony, bring the following documents:
- Notice to Appear
- Signed copy of the Permission Release and Consent form (included with the notice)
- Permanent Resident card if you have one (even if it is expired) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292 or IMM 5688)
- Record of Landing (IMM 1000) if you became a permanent resident before June 28, 2002
- Two pieces of IDs. One ID must have your photograph and signature (driver’s licence, health card or Permanent Resident card). Foreign ID documents must be government-issued. If they’re not in English or French, you must provide a translation with an affidavit from the translator
- All your passports and travel documents, current and expired, that you listed on the application form
A citizenship judge or official will preside over the ceremony and lead the Oath of Citizenship. He will say the oath in English and in French, and you will repeat the words. Next, you will get your citizenship certificate and sign the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship form. After that, you will be invited to sing the national anthem (‘O Canada’).
Once you take the Oath of Citizenship, you become a Canadian citizen. Your citizenship certificate is proof that you are a Canadian citizen.
Your citizenship certificate is not a travel document. If you are 16 years of age or older, you can wait at least 2 business days after your ceremony and apply for a Canadian passport — it is the only accepted travel document for citizens that proves you have the right to enter Canada.
The forms and documents you need to apply for a passport may be different depending on where you are. If you apply from Canada, you need to submit the following:
- Application form (PPTC 153), completed and signed
- Citizenship certificate
- Two identical photos that meet the requirements
- Any valid Canadian travel document issued in your name
- A guarantor to sign your application, photos, and documents, and 2 references to include on your application. Your references must have known you for at least 2 years, and they cannot be your family members
- Fee receipt. You will need to pay C$120 or C$160 for 5-year or 10-year passport and C$20–100 for expedited services (if you apply in person)
You can submit your application by mail (or by a courier) or visit one of the Passport offices or Service Canada receiving agent locations.
Address for mail:
Government of Canada
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0G3
If using a courier:
Government of Canada
22 de Varennes Street
Gatineau, Quebec J8T 8R1
If you applied by mail, the passport and any original documents you submitted will be returned to you by mail. If you applied in person and paid for a pick-up service, the pick-up date will be indicated on your receipt.