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 (residence),
- income tax filing,
- intent to reside,
- language skills,
- how well you know Canada, and
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. This is based on how long you have served our country, instead of how long you have 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, have no unfulfilled conditions related to that status, and your PR status must not be in question. This means you must not:
- be under review for immigration or fraud reasons, or
- be under a removal order (an order from Canadian officials to leave Canada), or
- have certain unfulfilled conditions related to your PR status.
You do not need to have a PR card to apply for citizenship. If you have a PR card, but it is expired, you can still apply for citizenship.
Time you have lived in Canada
You must have been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 1,460 days during the six years immediately before the date of your application. You must also be physically present for at least 183 days during each of four calendar years that are fully or partially within the six years immediately before the date of application. These requirements do not apply to children under 18.
Exceptions to these requirements apply for certain Crown servants and certain family members of Crown servants.
When calculating how long you have lived in Canada, you can only count time spent after you became a permanent resident of Canada.
Find out if you have lived in Canada long enough to apply to become a citizen.
Income tax filing
You must have met your personal income tax filing obligations in four taxation years that are fully or partially within the six years immediately before the date you apply.
Intent to reside
You must declare your intent to reside during the citizenship application process.
To become a citizen, you must indicate your intention to:
- live in Canada,
- work outside Canada as a Crown servant, or
- live abroad with certain family members who are Crown servants.
Once you become a Canadian citizen, you have the right to enter, remain in, or leave Canada, one of the basic rights of citizenship.
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 14 to 64 years of age, 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 to staff or a citizenship officer during your interview.
A citizenship officer will make the final decision on your application, including how well you can communicate in English or French.
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, in English or French, that you understand Canada’s:
- institutions and
If you are 14 to 64 years of age, when you apply for citizenship, you will need to take a citizenship test to show you have adequate knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. It is usually a written test, but it is sometimes taken orally with a citizenship officer. 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.
If you have committed a crime in or outside Canada you may not be eligible to become a Canadian citizen for a period of time. For example if you:
- are in prison, on parole or on probation in Canada, or are serving a sentence outside Canada,
- have been convicted of an indictable offence in Canada or an offence outside Canada in the four years before applying for citizenship, or
- are charged with, on trial for, or involved in an appeal of an indictable offence in Canada, or an offence outside Canada.
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.
Read more about Situations that may prevent you from becoming a Canadian citizen.
Top questions about Canadian citizenship
- What are the requirements for becoming a Canadian citizen?
- I already have a citizenship application in process. How will the 2015 changes to the citizenship legislation affect my application?
- Do I become a Canadian when I marry a Canadian?
- How much does it cost to apply for Canadian citizenship?
- I am a citizen of another country. Will I lose that citizenship if I become a Canadian?
- See all questions about this topic
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