What is a Record Letter?
A Record Letter is issued for a specific reason and for a limited time period. Generally, the letter is valid for one month. A letter may be valid for three months maximum.
There are three basic reasons someone would request a Record Letter:
- the applicant does not have proof of citizenship;
- the applicant has proof but needs a letter saying how and/or when citizenship was obtained;
- a third party asks for citizenship confirmation.
Record Letters are not travel documents
- Tell applicants that a Record Letter is not a travel document but may be issued to obtain a temporary Canadian passport. Border crossing officials may not accept a Record Letter and may refuse permission to cross a border.
- Make sure that the applicant understands that the Passport Office makes the final decision to issue a passport. The Passport Office may not accept a Record Letter.
- The Passport Office may issue limited validity passports on the basis of a Record Letter or, a Record Letter and a receipt for an application for a replacement certificate. Passport officials will take the letters and return them to CPC Sydney.
- Make sure that applicants understand that once the Record Letter has served its purpose, it must be returned to CPC Sydney. If it is not, CIC may refuse to issue another letter in the future.
Does the applicant have proof of citizenship?
Applicant does not have proof of citizenship
Applicants who do not have any proof of their citizenship may need a record letter:
- for travel purposes;
- to obtain social benefits from federal, provincial government or foreign government.
Applicants must complete an Application for a Search of Citizenship Records and submit it to CPC Sydney. Applications must include copies of two pieces of identification. Preferably, one should have the applicant's photograph.
There is no fee for a search of records if the person applies at the same time for a replacement certificate or has applied for and is waiting to receive a certificate. See Fees and refunds. All applicants for a record letter are to be advised they should apply for proof of citizenship.
If the information is needed urgently, advise CPC Sydney of the search request.
Issue a Record Letter, after a satisfactory search of citizenship records, to applicants whose certificates have been stolen, lost, or destroyed.
The completed search form and a copy of the Record Letter must be sent to CPC Sydney, if processing is done at the local office.
If the applicant picks up the Record Letter, ask for identification to confirm the applicant's identity. If a third party picks up the letter, release it only if the third party has written permission from the applicant.
Applicants who have proof of citizenship
Applicants who already have proof of citizenship may need a Record Letter:
- for confirmation of citizenship (usually the exact date and manner of acquisition) for a Canadian or foreign official;
- for confirmation of citizenship for educational institutions, employers, etc.;
- because he or she was issued an undated commemoration certificate (between February 15, 1977 and September 1980) and wants confirmation of the date citizenship was acquired.
Confirming how, when citizenship acquired
Applicants may be issued more than one letter for a single application for a search of citizenship records.
Applicants must provide evidence that the information is required. Only one letter will be issued for any one purpose. If more than one letter is issued on the basis of one search of citizenship records, only collect one fee.
Applicants must complete an Application for the Search of Citizenship indicating why they need the information, provide personal identification, and pay the required fee.
Third party requests
Third-party requests are usually made by people researching their family tree or trying to establish a derivative claim to a foreign nationality.
Citizenship record information is personal and protected by the Privacy Act.
We issue Record Letters to third parties only if:
- the subject has given consent by signing the Search of Records form; or
- the release of the information is consistent with the purpose for which it was collected, such as Immigration or RCMP investigations; or
- the subject has been dead 20 years or longer.
The party requesting the record completes the form as the applicant and must provide identification and fee.
Do not charge the fee to Government of Canada and provincial government departments or agencies, the RCMP, or the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) representative responds to requests that citizenship officials cannot process because of Privacy Act restrictions. See Accessing citizenship records.
If local office processes, send inquiry to CPC Sydney
If you can release the information under the Privacy Act, send the inquiry to CPC Sydney. If the information is needed urgently, advise CPC Sydney.
Once you confirm information and are satisfied you can release it, prepare a Record Letter. Follow the Guide for the Completion of the Record Letter in this section.
Send the completed search form and a copy of the Record Letter to CPC Sydney for retention.
Requests to be referred to ATIP
If you cannot release the information (because the subject of the search is alive and has not consented to its release or has been dead for less than 20 years) send the request to CPC Sydney, which will send the file to the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) representative in NHQ.
Ensure applicants provide detailed reason(s) for their request; if they do not, the ATIP representative may reject the application.
See Accessing citizenship records, above, for more information about releasing personal information to third parties.
Providing identification or proof
All persons, except Immigration officials or the RCMP, requesting information on another individual must provide two pieces of identification (originals or certified true copies) for themselves. Preferably, one should have a photograph of the applicant.
Citizenship officers must be satisfied about the identity of the person making the request.
Proof of death needed
If the subject of the search has been dead for less than 20 years, proof of death must be provided, such as a death certificate, obituary notice, or memorial card.
Guide for completion of Record letter
Address Record letters to:
- the Passport Office in all cases where the individual is requesting proof of citizenship for travel purposes. Do not address Record Letters to border crossing officials;
- the agency/institution/organization requesting information for education, employment, social services, etc.;
- third parties in third party inquiries.
Information required on Record Letter
Before generating the letter, ensure all required details are entered. All Record Letters indicate:
- family and given names appearing on the person's most recent citizenship certificate;
- any other names that the person is or was using;
- date and country of birth that appear in citizenship records;
- date citizenship was granted or acquired;
- most recent citizenship certificate number;
- the purpose for which the letter is being issued;
- the validity date.
Other information may be required depending on the reason for the letter:
- section of former Act individual acquired citizenship under;
- section of current Act individual is a citizen under;
- certificate number of parent and date of parent's naturalization;
- date oath of allegiance, citizenship or oath of renunciation was taken;
- type of oath taken;
- certificate numbers for any certificates issued;
- Letters issued to persons who have a pending application for proof of citizenship will also indicate this fact.
If the person has never had proof of citizenship, provide the following information in the letter:
- subject has never had a citizenship certificate;
- subject's claim to citizenship has been established and documented;
- applicable section of the legislation and the effective date e.g., Although above-noted has never had a citizenship certificate, it has been established that he/she has been Canadian since birth under section (3)(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act.
A citizenship officer with full signing authority must sign the letter on behalf of the Registrar for Canadian Citizenship.
Issuing a No Record letter
Individuals from countries that do not recognize dual citizenship usually ask for No Record Letters. They need evidence that they or their ancestors did not become Canadian citizens and that they have not applied for citizenship so they can obtain passports from their country of origin or establish a derivative claim to citizenship of another country.
Take the same steps as taken as with a Record Letter to prepare a No Record letter. The form must be filled out, identification verified, and fee collected.
Citizenship information is sometimes requested by other government agencies, such as Immigration or CSIS, for an investigation. In these cases, follow the guidelines for third party requests. No fee is required.
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