Acquisition of citizenship

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

This section explains who is a citizen as described in section 3 and the ways in which a person can acquire Canadian citizenship as described in sections 5 and 11 of the Citizenship Act.

Citizen by birth on Canadian soil [paragraph 3(1)(a)]

Citizen’s date of birth: on or after February 15, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(a) sets out that a person is a Canadian citizen if that person is born in Canada. In most cases, a person born in Canada is automatically a Canadian citizen at birth.

Refer to subsection 3(2) for the exception of citizenship by birth on Canadian soil.

Note: According to the Interpretation Act, “Canada” includes the “internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada”. “Internal waters” is further defined as "the internal waters of Canada as determined under the Oceans Act and includes the airspace above and the bed and subsoil below those waters”. Therefore, children born in Canadian airspace, whether over Canadian waters or over Canadian land, are considered born in Canada, as are children born in Canadian waters. Also, the interpretive clause in paragraph 2(2)(a) of the Citizenship Act clarifies that “a person is deemed to be born in Canada if the person is born on a Canadian vessel as defined in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 or on an aircraft registered in Canada under the Aeronautics Act and regulations made under that Act”.

Citizen by descent [paragraph 3(1)(b)]

Citizen’s date of birth: on or after February 15, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(b) sets out that a person is a Canadian citizen if that person is born outside Canada to a Canadian parent on or after February 15, 1977.

Persons born outside Canada on or after April 17, 2009

Aside from a few exceptions described under subsection 3(5), the amendments to the Citizenship Act introduced on April 17, 2009, now generally limit citizenship by descent to persons who are born to a Canadian parent abroad in the first generation. Since April 17, 2009, a person who is born outside Canada to a Canadian parent is automatically a Canadian citizen by birth only if that person is of the first generation born outside Canada.

Note: It is possible that a person born outside Canada to a Canadian parent on or after April 17, 2009, will be stateless because the person is not recognized as a Canadian citizen due in part to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and in part to the person concerned not having acquired any other citizenship either by descent or by birth on soil because of other countries’ own domestic citizenship laws. In such cases, refer to subsection 5(5) of the Citizenship Act, which sets out the requirements for a grant of Canadian citizenship to stateless persons born outside Canada to a Canadian parent.

Persons born outside Canada between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 2009

During that period, a person born outside Canada to a Canadian parent was automatically a Canadian citizen regardless of whether they were born outside Canada after the first generation.

Section 8 retention requirement

A person born outside Canada after the first generation to a Canadian parent was subject to the loss of citizenship under the former section 8 (repealed on April 17, 2009), which required the person to apply to retain their Canadian citizenship before attaining the age of 28. The retention requirements applied only if a person was born outside Canada on or after February 15, 1977, and that person automatically acquired citizenship by descent at the time of their birth because one of their parents was a citizen by virtue of paragraph 3(1)(b) or 3(1)(e). Failure to apply to retain citizenship resulted in the loss of citizenship at the age of 28. Due to the repeal of section 8 on April 17, 2009, persons who were born outside Canada on or after February 15, 1977, and who would have been subject to the retention requirements were not required to retain citizenship and therefore did not lose citizenship if they turned 28 on or after April 17, 2009. However, the 2009 and 2015 legislative amendments to the Citizenship Act did not have the effect of restoring citizenship to persons who had previously ceased to be citizens prior to April 17, 2009, for failing to have retained citizenship under section 8 of the 1977 Act. For further information, refer to the instructions on retention of citizenship prior to attaining 28 years of age.

Persons are also Canadian citizens pursuant to paragraph 3(1)(b) if they are

  • persons born outside Canada on or after February 15, 1977, to a parent who acquired Canadian citizenship as a result of the legislative amendments on April 17, 2009, as described in one of paragraphs 3(1)(f), (i), or (j). These persons are Canadian citizens by descent if they were born outside Canada in the first generation [i.e., not described in subsection 3(3)] or if one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) applies. Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(b) and whose parent is described in paragraph 3(1)(f) or (i) are deemed to have been citizens under paragraph 3(1)(b) since their birth[pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(h)]. Those who became Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.1).
  • persons born outside Canada on or after February 15, 1977, to a parent born before January 1, 1947 (April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador), who acquired Canadian citizenship as a result of the legislative amendments on June 11, 2015, as described in one of paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (n) or (o) to (r), in the case one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies. These persons are Canadian citizens by descent if they were born outside Canada in the first generation [i.e., not subject to subsection 3(2.2), 3(2.4), or 3(3)] or if one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) applies. Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(b) and whose parent is described in paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (n) are deemed to have been citizens under paragraph 3(1)(b) since their birth [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(i)]. Those who became Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2).

Refer to subsection 3(3) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and to subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for the exceptions to this limit.

Citizen by way of grant (naturalization) or resumption [paragraph 3(1)(c)]

Citizen’s date of birth: n/a

Paragraph 3(1)(c) sets out that a person is a Canadian citizen if that person has been granted or resumed citizenship under section 5 or section 11 of the 1977 Act, and, in the case of a person who is 14 years of age or older, taken the Oath of Citizenship, unless the person is deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant as a result of the 2009 or 2015 legislative amendments pursuant to subsections 3(6), 3(6.1) and 3(6.2) of the Act.

  • Adult grant [subsection 5(1)], including current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been released honorably [subsection 5(1.2)] and persons who are or were attached or seconded to the Canadian Armed Forces [subsection 5(1.3)].
  • Minor grant [subsection 5(2)].
  • Grant for a stateless person born outside Canada to a Canadian parent [subsection 5(5)] for persons born on or after April 17, 2009, who have always been stateless and are less than 23 years of age at the time of application.
  • Discretionary grant [subsection 5(4)].
  • Resumption of citizenship [section 11],
    • including current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been released honorably [subsection 11(1.1)] and persons who are or were attached or seconded to the Canadian Armed Forces [subsection 11(1.2)];
    • including any woman who, by reason of marriage or the acquisition by her husband of a foreign nationality, ceased to be a British subject [subsection 11(2)].

Note: Persons who were born outside Canada between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, to a Canadian mother (in wedlock) or to a Canadian father (out of wedlock) and who were granted citizenship under paragraph 5(2)(b) of the 1977 Act are described under paragraph 3(1)(h) as a result of the 2009 legislative amendments.

Direct citizen by way of grant to persons adopted by a Canadian citizen [paragraph 3(1)(c.1)]

Citizen’s date of birth: n/a

Paragraph 3(1)(c.1) sets out that a person is a Canadian citizen if that person has been granted citizenship under section 5.1 of the Citizenship Act (i.e., the person was born outside Canada and adopted by a Canadian citizen or a parent who became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947 [or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador]), and met the requirements of section 5.1.

Legislative amendments to the Citizenship Act introduced on April 17, 2009, limit citizenship by descent to the first generation born outside Canada. Persons born abroad and adopted by a Canadian parent who become citizens under the grant of citizenship under the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act [section 5.1] are considered born in the first generation outside Canada and therefore cannot pass on citizenship to any of their children who are born or adopted outside Canada [subsection 5.1(4)].

  • Refer to subsections 5.1(5) and 5.1(6) for the specific exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by adoption.
  • Subsection 5.1(4) of the Citizenship Act embeds the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent within the adoption grant eligibility provisions by clarifying that a person may not be granted citizenship under subsections 5.1(1) to (3) if their adoptive parent is a citizen by descent or a citizen through the adoption provisions of section 5.1.

Citizen under the 1947 Act [paragraph 3(1)(d)]

Citizen’s date of birth: on or before February 14, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(d) recognizes as citizens those persons who became Canadian citizens under the Canadian Citizenship Act (1947) immediately before the Citizenship Act came into force on February 15, 1977 (can be citizenship by birth on soil, by naturalization, or by descent). Any person who was a citizen on February 14, 1977, is a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(d) of the 1977 Act (this provision does not apply to persons who became Canadian citizens by descent under the 2009 or 2015 legislative amendments).

Delayed registration of birth outside Canada (citizenship by descent) [paragraph 3(1)(e)]

Citizen’s date of birth: between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(e) sets out that a person is a Canadian citizen if that person was entitled, immediately before February 15, 1977, to become a citizen under paragraph 5(1)(b) of the 1947 Act. A person is therefore a Canadian citizen if they were born outside Canada between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, to a Canadian parent and were eligible and required to be registered as citizens born outside Canada but did not do so within two years after the person’s birth or within an extended period authorized by the Minister. Under paragraph 5(1)(b) of the 1947 Act, only a person born in wedlock to a Canadian citizen father or a child born out of wedlock to a Canadian citizen mother was entitled to be registered as a citizen.

Note: The opportunity to register and become a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(e) expired on August 14, 2004. Persons who did not make an application to register and become citizens under paragraph 3(1)(e) prior to its expiry on August 14, 2004, may have automatically become citizens under the legislative amendments of 2009 if they are of the first generation born outside Canada to a Canadian parent. These persons are described in paragraph 3(1)(g). For additional information, refer to Delayed registration of birth outside Canada.

Automatic restoration of citizenship [paragraph 3(1)(f)]

Citizen’s date of birth: n/a

Paragraph 3(1)(f) recognizes as Canadian citizens persons who were previously Canadian citizens but lost their citizenship (for any other reason that those listed in this provision’s subparagraph), and did not resume it before April 17, 2009. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on April 17, 2009, and had the effect of automatically restoring citizenship to such persons. Paragraphs 3(7)(c) and (d) further clarified that the restoration of citizenship is retroactive to the date of loss. Those who were described under paragraph 3(1)(c) as a result of being granted citizenship are now described under paragraph 3(1)(f). Pursuant to subsection 3(3), persons who are born outside Canada after the first generation did not acquire citizenship by descent under paragraph 3(1)(f), unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Refer to subsection 3(3) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for the exceptions to this limit.

Exceptions

Former Canadian citizens whose citizenship was not restored by this paragraph are persons who lost it because they

  • made a formal application, as adults, to the Canadian government to renounce citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government; or
  • were born after the first generation between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, to a Canadian parent and failed to make an application to retain citizenship under section 8 or did make an application that subsequently was not approved, and consequently lost citizenship on their 28th birthday.

First generation born outside Canada but never a Canadian citizen [citizenship by descent under paragraph 3(1)(g)]

Citizen’s date of birth: between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(g) recognizes as Canadian citizens persons born outside Canada to a Canadian parent in the first generation between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, but who were never Canadian citizens prior to April 17, 2009. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on April 17, 2009, and had the effect of giving citizenship to those persons described, retroactively to their date of birth [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(e)]. Pursuant to subsection 3(3), persons who were born outside Canada after the first generation to a Canadian parent did not acquire citizenship by descent under paragraph 3(1)(g), unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Paragraph 3(1)(g) also recognizes as Canadian citizens persons born in the first generation outside Canada between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, who were never Canadian citizens prior to June 11, 2015 [and who are not subject to subsection 3(2.2) or 3(2.4)], if one of their parents was born before January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador), and became a Canadian citizen as a result of the legislative amendments on June 11, 2015 [as described in one of paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (n)]. Pursuant to subsection 3(3), persons who are born outside Canada after the first generation to a parent who became a Canadian citizen under paragraphs 3(1)(o) to (r) on June 11, 2015, did not acquire citizenship by descent under paragraph 3(1)(g) [i.e., they are subject to subsection 3(3)], unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies. Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(g) are deemed to have been citizens under paragraph 3(1)(g) since the time that they were born [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(e)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(g) [and one of both of their parents are found under paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (n)] and who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant between April 17, 2009, and June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2).

Note: A child born outside Canada to, or born outside Canada and adopted by, a parent who was a citizen under section 9 or 40 of the 1947 Act is considered the first generation born outside Canada.

First generation born outside Canada who was granted Canadian citizenship before April 17, 2009 [paragraph 3(1)(h)]

Citizen’s date of birth: between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(h) recognizes as Canadian citizens persons born outside Canada to a Canadian parent between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, and who did not become citizens by descent, but who were granted citizenship under section 5 of the 1977 Act before April 17, 2009. Under this paragraph, such persons are recognized as citizens by descent as a result of the legislative amendments on April 17, 2009, instead of citizens by way of grant [pursuant to subsection 3(6)], and their citizenship is retroactive to their date of birth [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(e)].

A person is also a Canadian citizen pursuant to paragraph 3(1)(h) in situations where

  • that person was previously granted citizenship under section 5 of the 1977 Act before April 17, 2009 [and is not subject to subsections 3(2.2) and 3(2.4)];
  • that person was also born outside Canada between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, to a parent who was born before January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949 in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador); and
  • that parent became a Canadian citizen as a result of the legislative amendments on June 11, 2015 and is now a person described in one of paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (n).

Pursuant to subsection 3(3), persons who are born outside Canada after the first generation to a parent who became a Canadian citizen under paragraphs 3(1)(o) to (r) on June 11, 2015, did not become citizens by descent under paragraph 3(1)(h) [i.e., they are subject to subsection 3(3)], unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies. Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(h) are deemed to have been citizens since their birth [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(e)] and are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6).

Note: A person who is a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(h) would have been a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(g) if the person were not granted citizenship under section 5.

Former citizens who resumed citizenship under the 1977 Act [paragraph 3(1)(i)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before February 15, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(i) specifies that persons who were originally Canadian citizens by operation of law under the 1947 Act (as opposed to by way of grant) and who lost their citizenship and then resumed it through the grant process under the 1977 Act (can be citizenship by birth on soil or by descent) are Canadian citizens. Under this paragraph, such persons are recognized as citizens by operation of law instead of as citizens by way of grant [pursuant to subsection 3(6)] and their citizenship is retroactive to the date they originally lost citizenship [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(f)]. Persons born outside Canada after the first generation did not acquire citizenship under paragraph 3(1)(i), unless one of the exceptions to the limit to citizenship by descent under subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Former Canadian citizens whose citizenship was not restored by this paragraph are persons who lost it because they

  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • acquired citizenship (naturalization) by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government; or
  • were born outside Canada after the first generation between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, to a Canadian parent and failed to make an application to retain citizenship under section 8 or did make an application that subsequently was not approved, and consequently lost citizenship on their 28th birthday.

Refer to subsection 3(3) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for the exceptions to this limit.

Former citizens who resumed citizenship under the 1947 Act [paragraph 3(1)(j)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before February 14, 1977

Paragraph 3(1)(j) specifies that persons who were originally Canadian citizens by operation of law under the 1947 Act (as opposed to a grant) and who lost their citizenship (other than for specific reasons set out below) and then resumed it are Canadian citizens. Under this paragraph, such persons are recognized as citizens by operation of law instead of citizens by way of grant [pursuant to subsection 3(6)] and their citizenship is retroactive to the date they originally lost citizenship [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(g)]. Persons who are born outside Canada after the first generation did not acquire citizenship by descent under paragraph 3(1)(j) [i.e., they are subject to subsection 3(3)] unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Former Canadian citizens whose citizenship was not restored by this paragraph are persons who lost it because they

  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • acquired citizenship (naturalization) by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government; or
  • were born outside Canada after the first generation between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, to a Canadian parent and failed to make an application to retain citizenship under section 8 or did make an application that subsequently was not approved, and consequently lost citizenship on their 28th birthday.

Refer to subsection 3(3) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and to subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for the exceptions to this limit.

Born or naturalized in Canada before January 1, 1947, lost British subject status before that date and did not become a citizen on that date [paragraph 3(1)(k)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before January 1, 1947

Paragraph 3(1)(k) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if, before January 1, 1947, they were British subjects by virtue of being born or naturalized in Canada, they subsequently lost their British subject status under prior legislation, and they therefore did not become Canadian citizens on January 1, 1947, when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into force. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of January 1, 1947 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(j)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(k) and who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2). Also, a person who is described in paragraph 3(1)(k) but who is also described in paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) is deemed to be a Canadian citizen only under paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) [pursuant to subsection 3(6.3)].

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.1), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(k) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Born or naturalized in Newfoundland and Labrador before April 1, 1949, lost British subject status before that date and did not become a citizen on or before that date [paragraph 3(1)(l)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before April 1, 1949

Paragraph 3(1)(l) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if, before April 1, 1949, they were British subjects by virtue of being born or naturalized in Newfoundland and Labrador, they subsequently lost British subject status under prior legislation, and they therefore did not become Canadian citizens on or before April 1, 1949, when Newfoundland and Labrador citizenship provisions were added to the Canadian Citizenship Act. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of April 1, 1949 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(l)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(l) and who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2). Also, a person who is described in paragraph 3(1)(l) but who is also described in paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) is deemed to be a Canadian citizen only under paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) [pursuant to subsection 3(6.3)].

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.3), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(l) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

British subject born outside Canada, ordinarily resident in Canada on January 1, 1947, and did not become a citizen on that date [paragraph 3(1)(m)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before January 1, 1947

Paragraph 3(1)(m) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if they were British subjects born abroad (who never naturalized in Canada) who were ordinarily resident in Canada but who did not have “Canadian domicile” under the 1947 Act (see note below) on January 1, 1947, and therefore did not become Canadian citizens when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into force. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of January 1, 1947 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(j)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(m) and who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2). Also, a person who is described in paragraph 3(1)(m) but who is also described in paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) is deemed to be a Canadian citizen only under paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) [pursuant to subsection 3(6.3)].

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.1), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(m) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Note: The 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act provided that any person who was a British subject immediately before January 1, 1947, and was in possession of “Canadian Domicile” on that date was a Canadian citizen. Canadian domicile was defined in subsection 4(1) of the Immigration Act and read as follows: “Canadian domicile is acquired for the purposes of this Act by a person having his place of domicile for at least five years in Canada after having been landed in Canada”.

Determining whether a person is “ordinarily resident” is a fact-based assessment. Interpretation is meant to provide officers with flexibility when assessing these cases.

British subject born outside Canada ordinarily resident in Newfoundland and Labrador on April 1, 1949, who did not become a citizen on or before that date [paragraph 3(1)(n)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before April 1, 1949

Paragraph 3(1)(n) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if they were British subjects born abroad (who never naturalized in Newfoundland or Labrador) who were ordinarily resident in Newfoundland and Labrador (but not considered to have “Newfoundland domicile” under the 1947 Act [see note below]) on April 1, 1949, and who did not become Canadian citizens on or before April 1, 1949, when the Newfoundland and Labrador citizenship provisions were added to the Canadian Citizenship Act. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of April 1, 1949, [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(l)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(n) and who became Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2). Also, a person who is described in paragraph 3(1)(m) but who is also described in paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) is deemed to be a Canadian citizen only under paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) [pursuant to subsection 3(6.3)].

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.3), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(n) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Note: “Newfoundland Domicile” under the 1947 Act meant domicile in Newfoundland for at least five years.

Determining whether a person is “ordinarily resident” is a fact-based assessment. Interpretation is meant to provide officers with flexibility when assessing these cases.

Born before January 1, 1947, outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador to a parent who became a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(k) or (m),and did not become a citizen on that date [paragraph 3(1)(o)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before January 1, 1947

Paragraph 3(1)(o) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if they were born outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador before January 1, 1947, to a parent who is a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(k) or (m) and who did not become a Canadian citizen with the coming into force of the Canadian Citizenship Act on January 1, 1947. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of January 1, 1947 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(k)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(o) and who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2).

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.1), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(o) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Born before April 1, 1949, outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador to a parent who became a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(l) or (n),and did not become a citizen on or before that date [paragraph 3(1)(p)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before April 1, 1949

Paragraph 3(1)(p) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if they were born outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador before April 1, 1949, to a parent who is a citizen under paragraph 3(1)(l) or (n),and did not become a Canadian citizen on or before April 1, 1949. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of April 1, 1949 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(m)].

Persons who are citizens under paragraph 3(1)(p) and who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2).

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.3), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(p) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Born before January 1, 1947, in the first generation outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador to a parent who became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947, and did not become a citizen on that date [paragraph 3(1)(q)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before January 1, 1947

Paragraph 3(1)(q) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if they were born outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador before January 1, 1947, to a parent who became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947, when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into force on January 1, 1947, and did not themselves become citizens on that day. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of January 1, 1947 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(k)].

Pursuant to subsection 3(3), those who were born outside Canada after the first generation are not Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(q), unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Persons who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2).

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.1), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(q) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Refer to subsection 3(3) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for the exceptions to this limit.

Born before April 1, 1949, in the first generation outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador to a parent who became a citizen on April 1, 1949,and did not become a citizen on or before that date [paragraph 3(1)(r)]

Citizen’s date of birth: before April 1, 1949

Paragraph 3(1)(r) sets out that persons are Canadian citizens if they were born outside Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador before April 1, 1949, to a parent who became a citizen on April 1, 1949, when the Newfoundland and Labrador citizenship provisions were added to the Canadian Citizenship Act, and did not themselves become citizens on or before that day. This provision was introduced in the legislative amendments made to the Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015, and has the effect of retroactively giving citizenship to those described as of April 1, 1949 [pursuant to paragraph 3(7)(m)].

Pursuant to subsection 3(3), those who were born outside Canada after the first generation are not Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(r), unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Persons who had previously become Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant pursuant to subsection 3(6.2).

Pursuant to subsection 3(2.3), persons did not become Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(r) if they

  • renounced their British subject status (made a declaration of alienage);
  • renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government;
  • had their British subject status revoked (or ceased to be a British subject as a result of the revocation of another person’s British subject status being revoked);
  • acquired citizenship by fraud, false representation or concealing material circumstances, and that citizenship was revoked by the Canadian government.

Refer to subsection 3(3) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent and subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for the exceptions to this limit.

Exception to birth on Canadian soil [subsection 3(2)]

Pursuant to subsection 3(2), despite being born in Canada, a person is not a Canadian citizen if, at the time of their birth, neither one of their parents was a citizen or lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence and either of that person’s parents was

  • a diplomat or a consular officer of a foreign government (or an employee in the service of these persons);
  • an employee or another representative of a foreign government (or an employee in the service of these persons);
  • an officer or an employee of a specialized agency of the United Nations; or
  • an officer or an employee of any other international organization with diplomatic privileges and immunities.

Limit to citizenship by descent [subsection 3(3)]

The Citizenship Act limits citizenship by descent to the first generation born outside Canada to a Canadian parent. As of April 17, 2009, in order for a person born outside Canada to be a citizen by descent, that person must be born in the first generation to a Canadian parent.

This means that, in general, persons who were not already Canadian citizens immediately before April 17, 2009, and who were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent are not Canadian if

  • their Canadian parent was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent (the person is therefore the second or subsequent generation born outside Canada); or
  • their Canadian parent was granted Canadian citizenship under section 5.1, the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act (the person is therefore the second generation born outside Canada).

Subsection 3(3) of the Citizenship Act specifies that the limit to citizenship by descent applies to persons who are described under paragraph 3(1)(b), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (q), or (r) (i.e., born outside Canada to Canadian parents) and for whom only one parent is a Canadian citizen or both parents are Canadians who were,

  • at the time of that person’s birth, citizens described under either paragraph 3(1)(b), (c.1), (e), (g), (h), (o), (p), (q), or (r);
  • at any time, Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(d), (i), or (j) but who are also citizens by descent and were therefore previously citizens under one of the subparagraphs listed under paragraph 3(3)(b) of the Act;
  • on January 1, 1947, Canadian citizens as described under paragraph 3(1)(o) or (q) and the person was born before January 1, 1947; or
  • on April 1, 1949, Canadian citizens as described under paragraph 3(1)(p) or (r) and the person was born before April 1, 1949.

Note: A child born outside Canada to a parent who was a citizen under section 9 or 40 of the 1947 Act is considered the first generation born outside Canada.

Refer to subsections 3(4), 3(4.1) and 3(5) for more information on the exceptions to the limit to citizenship by descent.

Adopted persons

The first-generation limit to citizenship has also been extended to apply to cases of grants of citizenship to adopted persons [pursuant to section 5.1 of the Citizenship Act]. The foreign-born adopted children of Canadian citizens are placed in the same situation as the natural-born children of Canadian citizens who are born outside of Canada. Therefore, persons who have been granted citizenship pursuant to section 5.1 [and are therefore described in paragraph 3(1)(c.1) of the Act] cannot pass citizenship onto any of their children who are born outside of Canada [by descent or by section 5.1 grant] unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit apply to their case. The regular naturalization process must be followed for these children to acquire Canadian citizenship.

Refer to subsection 5.1(4) for more information on the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent for adoptions and to subsections 5.1(5) and 5.1(6) for the exceptions to this limit for adopted persons.

Exception to limit to citizenship by descent [subsection 3(4) (transitional provision)]

The limit to citizenship by descent does not have the effect of taking away the Canadian citizenship of persons born outside Canada after the first generation prior to April 17, 2009, who were already Canadian citizens on April 16, 2009 (i.e., the day before the legislative amendments came into force). These persons keep their citizenship.

The first-generation limit to citizenship by descent does, however, apply to persons born outside Canada after the first generation to a parent whose citizenship was restored or conferred as a result of the legislative amendments which came into force on April 17, 2009, and where that person would have been a citizen only through this restoration or conferral on their parent. These persons did not become Canadian citizens on April 17, 2009, unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Exception to limit to citizenship by descent [subsection 3(4.1) (transitional provision)]

The limit to citizenship by descent does not have the effect of taking away the Canadian citizenship of persons born outside Canada after the first generation prior to June 11, 2015, who were already Canadian citizens on the day before June 11, 2015 (i.e., the day before the legislative amendments came into force). These persons keep their citizenship.

The first-generation limit to citizenship by descent does, however, apply to persons born outside Canada after the first generation to a parent who became a Canadian citizen as a result of the legislative amendments which came into force on June 11, 2015, and where that person would have been a citizen only through this restoration or conferral on one or both parents. These persons did not become Canadian citizens on June 11, 2015, unless one of the exceptions to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent described in subsection 3(5) of the Act applies.

Exception to limit to citizenship by descent (child or grandchild of person in service abroad) [subsection 3(5)]

The first-generation limit to citizenship by descent does not apply to a person born outside Canada after the first generation if,

  • at the time of the person’s birth, their parent was employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province or territory, other than as a locally engaged person (a Crown servant); or
  • at the time of their parent’s birth or adoption, the person’s grandparent was employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the federal public administration or public service of a province or territory, other than as a locally engaged person (a Crown servant).

When the exception to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent initially came into force under the 2009 legislative amendments, the exception applied only to the children of serving Crown servants (persons employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province of territory, other than as a locally engaged person). Under the 2015 legislative amendments, this exception was extended to the grandchildren of serving Crown servants and is retroactive to April 17, 2009.

Citizenship other than by way of grant for certain persons who became citizens on April 17, 2009 [subsections 3(6) and 3(7)]

Persons who are Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(h), (i), or (j) are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant. Instead, these persons are deemed to be citizens by operation of law under subsection 3(7).

Citizenship other than by way of grant for certain children born after February 14, 1977 [subsections 3(6.1) and 3(7)]

Persons born after February 14, 1977, who became Canadian citizens by way of grant before April 17, 2009, and were born to a parent who was born or naturalized in Canada and is described under paragraph 3(1)(h) or (i) (citizenship of their parent was restored upon the coming into force of Bill C-37) are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant. Instead, these persons are now deemed to be citizens by operation of law under subsection 3(7).

Citizenship other than by way of grant for certain persons who became citizens on June 11, 2015 [subsections 3(6.2) and 3(7)]

Persons who are Canadian citizens under paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (r) and who became Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been citizens by way of grant.

Persons who are Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(b) or (g) [as a result of their parent becoming a citizen under paragraphs 3(1)(k) to (n)] and who became Canadian citizens by way of grant before June 11, 2015, are deemed never to have been a citizen by way of grant. Instead, these persons are now deemed to be citizens by operation of law under subsection 3(7).

Deemed application [subsection 3(6.3)]

Persons who are Canadian citizens under paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r) and who are also described under paragraph 3(1)(k), (l), (m), or (n) are deemed to be citizens only under paragraph 3(1)(o), (p), (q), or (r).

2009 and 2015 legislative amendments to the Citizenship Act

For additional information on the 2009 and 2015 legislative amendments, the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent, and the exceptions to this limit, refer to the changes to citizenship rules in 2009 and 2015 and the section on loss of citizenship and British subject status, and restoration and acquisition of citizenship.

Citizenship by adoption

For additional information on the 2009 and 2015 legislative amendments for adopted persons, refer to Citizenship law and adoption.

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