To be eligible to become a Canadian citizen, you must meet the conditions in all these areas:
- permanent resident status,
- time you have lived in Canada,
- language skills,
- criminal history (prohibitions) and
- how well you know Canada.
As a result of 2014 changes to the Citizenship Act, if you have served in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, you might be able to apply through a fast-track process. We look at how long you have served our country, instead of how long you lived in Canada. Foreign military members do not need to be a permanent resident of Canada.
You must be at least 18 years old to apply.
To apply for citizenship for a child under 18:
- you must be the child’s parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian,
- the child must be a permanent resident, and
- one parent must be a Canadian citizen or apply to become a citizen at the same time (this also applies to adoptive parents).
Permanent resident status
You must have permanent resident (PR) status in Canada. Your PR status must not be in question. That means you must not be:
- under review for immigration or fraud reasons, or
- under a removal order (an order from Canadian officials to leave Canada).
Time you have lived in Canada
You must have resided in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the past four years before you apply. This does not apply to children under 18.
You may be able to count time you spent in Canada before you became a permanent resident if it was during the past four years.
Use our online tool to find out if you have lived in Canada long enough to apply to become a citizen.
Canada has two official languages—English and French. To become a citizen, you must show that you have adequate knowledge of one of these languages. In general, this means you can:
- take part in short, everyday conversations about common topics;
- understand simple instructions, questions and directions;
- use basic grammar, including simple structures and tenses; and
- show that you know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself.
If you are between 18 and 54, you must send documents with your citizenship application that prove you can speak and listen in English or French at this level. Use our wizard to see if you have the proof we will accept. The citizenship application guide also contains the type of proof we will accept.
Second, we will note how well you communicate when you talk to staff or a citizenship officer interviews you.
A citizenship officer will make the final decision on your application, including how well you can communicate in English or French.
Criminal history (prohibitions)
You cannot become a citizen if you:
- have been convicted of an indictable (criminal) offence or an offence under the Citizenship Act in the three years before you apply,
- are currently charged with an offence under the Citizenship Act,
- are in prison, on parole or on probation,
- are under a removal order (Canadian officials have ordered you to leave Canada),
- are being investigated for, are charged with, or have been convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity, or
- have had your Canadian citizenship taken away in the past five years.
If you are on probation or are charged with a crime and waiting for a trial, you should wait until after the probation is done or your trial is over to apply to become a citizen.
Time in prison or on parole does not count as time you have lived in Canada. Time on probation also does not count if you were convicted of a crime.
If you were on probation due to a conditional discharge, that time may be counted toward the time you have lived in Canada. For details, contact the Call Centre.
How well you know Canada
To become a citizen, you must understand the rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, such as voting in elections and obeying the law. You must also show you understand Canada’s:
- institutions and
If you are between 18-54 when you apply for citizenship, you will need to take a test to show you have adequate knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. All you need to know for the test is in our free study guide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. We will send you a copy of it once we get your application. The questions in the citizenship test are based on this study guide.
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