Replacing citizenship certificates

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.

When a Canadian citizen applies for a replacement certificate, all previously-issued certificates must be returned or accounted for (stolen, lost, destroyed). This section is about exchanging replacement citizenship certificates when previously-issued certificates have NOT been accounted for.

All previously-issued certificates must be returned or accounted for

Occasionally, a person applies for a replacement certificate, but still has a certificate in his or her possession. In these cases, the application may be processed up to the point before issuing the new certificate. Before a new certificate is issued, CPC Sydney will contact the applicant to request the surrender of all previous certificates. Once all previous certificates have been received, a new certificate can be issued.

Commemorative certificates

From February 15, 1977 to 1996, the paper document that was issued with the laminated certificate (card) was a commemorative document. Up until 1996, it was issued with all citizenship grants and proof certificates.

After 1996, proof of citizenship certificates were issued along with a letter stating the effective date of citizenship (if applicable).

From 1996 to February 2012, people who were granted citizenship received a commemorative document along with a plastic wallet-sized card that displayed their photograph and signature.

In February 2012, CIC stopped issuing the plastic wallet-sized card and commemorative certificate. These items were replaced with a single 8 ½ x 11 letter-sized certificate. While this version of the certificate contains a validation code, it no longer displays a photo, signature and does not bear security features. Although this letter sized citizenship certificate contains no security features, it can be validated by departments who have an agreement with CIC through a secure web based portal called the CIC Validation Portal, or by sending a manual validation form to the case processing centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Note: Commemorative documents have never been considered proof of citizenship, even though some earlier versions were called "Certificate of Canadian Citizenship". They were simply a document that commemorated the day citizenship was obtained and contained the effective date of Canadian citizenship for the individual.

Transmission copies

Prior to February 15, 1977, many people were issued pink (sometimes green) transmission copies (a carbon copy) of their large paper certificate. At the time, they were issued for passport purposes only.

Exchange at local office or Consular missions outside of the United States of America

An exchange may be arranged between CPC Sydney and a local office (exceptional case) or CPC Sydney and a mission outside of the United States of America. In these circumstances, the certificate is forwarded to the local office or the mission who contact the applicant.

Once all previous certificates have been received or accounted for and the new certificate given or sent to the applicant, the previous certificates and a confirmation of exchange are returned to CPC Sydney.

For Canadians citizens leaving in the United States, CPC Sydney will send the certificate by mail or contact the client by phone to make other arrangements.

Procedures

The form Exchange of Documents (CIT 0045) is sent by CPC Sydney when a replacement certificate is to be exchanged at the citizenship office or mission outside of the United States of America, or where all previously issued certificates have not been accounted for.

On receiving the form, before releasing a new certificate, a citizenship or foreign service officer must:

  • contact the applicant;
  • obtain the previously issued certificate(s) or indicate on the form what happened to the previously issued certificate(s);
  • ensure that the client signs this form and then countersign;
  • tell the applicant, if applicable, that if the previously-issued certificate is found, it must be returned to the citizenship office or sent to CPC Sydney;
  • send the completed form (with previously issued certificate(s), if obtained) to CPC Sydney
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