What information is available under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act?
Most government information is available. Major exceptions are Cabinet documents and information that could harm Canada’s security or economy, federal-provincial relations or international affairs. Information about individuals may be disclosed only with their consent or if it is in the public interest. Individuals can get their personal information under the Privacy Act.
Who can make a request under the Access to Information Act?
Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any individual present in Canada can make a request under the Access to Information Act. If you are none of the above, you can ask a representative, who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, to make a request for you, if you give that person written consent.
Who can make a request under the Privacy Act?
Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals, regardless of where they are located, can request access to their personal information held by federal government institutions under the Privacy Act.
Will my access to information or privacy request be processed faster if my representative sends it?
If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention, nor can you expect faster processing. The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, whether they use the services of a representative or not.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) realizes that the use of a representative to assist in the completion of your Access to Information or Privacy application is a personal choice. Please note that the Government of Canada does not recommend or endorse any individual representative. Visit the following page for more information on representatives.
What is the fee for an Access request?
Each request filed under the Access to Information Act requires a $5.00 application fee. A requester can either pay by credit card using the online payment service within the ATIP Online Request tool, or by cheque or money order made payable to the Receiver General for Canada for requests by mail. There may also be additional fees if copying, computer processing or further search and preparation time is required. (The first five hours of search and preparation are free).
What is the fee for a Privacy request?
There are no fees under the Privacy Act.
How and where do I submit an Access to Information or Privacy request?
If submitting a request electronically, you must do so through the ATIP Online Request tool. Once you have completed the questions, the request will be automatically sent to the Access to Information and Privacy Division at IRCC.
If submitting a written request, you must complete one of the following forms:
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC's) Access to Information and Personal Information Request Form (IMM 5563)
- The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Access to Information Request Form (TBC/CTC 350-57)
- The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Personal Information Request Form (TBC/CTC 350-58).
You may also submit a letter, as long as it indicates under which Act the request is being made and includes sufficient detail to enable an employee of IRCC to identify the records that are being requested.
You can send your completed form or letter to:
Access to Information and Privacy Division
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Note: Credit card payment is only accepted via the ATIP Online Request tool. If paying the application fee by cheque or money order, you must send your request by regular mail.
How long does the Department have to respond?
Access to Information
For requests made under the Access to Information Act, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has 30 days to respond to a formal request. However, this period may be extended for a reasonable period of time if:
- the request is for a large number of records, or
- the request requires a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution.
A time extension may also be granted if consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot be completed within the original time limit. If the required time extension is greater than 30 days, the head of the institution is required under subsection 9(2) of the Act to inform the Information Commissioner of the extension. We will tell you about the extension and its length, within 30 days of getting your request. It will also let you know that you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner about the extension.
In the case of formal requests made pursuant to the Privacy Act, we have 30 days to respond. However, this period may be extended for a maximum of 30 days if:
- meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution, or
- consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot be completed within the original time limit.
The period may also be extended for a reasonable period of time if:
- additional time is necessary for translation purposes, or
- for the purposes of converting the personal information into an alternative format.
We will tell you about the extension and its length, within 30 days after the request is received. It will also let you know that you have the right to complain to the Privacy Commissioner about the extension.
Note: If you do not receive a response within 30 days, you may obtain the status of your request by contacting the ATIP Division via:
- e-mail: ATIP-AIPRP@cic.gc.ca;
Access to Information and Privacy Division
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Can I get personal information about someone else?
To get personal information belonging to someone else, you must submit their written consent authorizing you to receive their personal information. Consent may be provided by:
- completing the Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request – IMM 5744, or
- a written statement that includes:
- the name of the person giving the consent,
- the name of the person to whom consent is being given,
- the signature of the person giving the consent and
- the date the letter was signed.
You do not need consent to get the personal information of any dependants who are under 18 years of age.
Can I get personal information about someone who is deceased?
Yes, you can get someone’s personal information if they died at least 20 years ago. You must provide reasonable proof of death, such as
- an obituary notice
- a death certificate
- photographs of a tombstone or
- provincial vital statistics
If a person has been dead for less than 20 years, only the following people can get their personal information:
- the executor of the estate or
- in the case of a person who has died without a will, the administrator of the estate
The executor or administrator of the estate does not have an unlimited right of access to all of the deceased’s personal information, but only the information that will allow them to fulfill their legal responsibilities to finalize the estate.
How to notify the federal government of a death
How can I get information on an individual who arrived in Canada before 1936?
Landing and immigration records for individuals who arrived in Canada before 1936 (passenger lists 1865–1935 and border entry lists 1908–1935) are kept by Library and Archives Canada. They are available free of charge. Send requests for these records to:
Library and Archives Canada
Researcher Services Division
395 Wellington Street, 3rd floor
For more information on the Canadian Genealogy Centre, you may consult the following website: www.collectionscanada.ca.
What information should I provide to get a naturalization record?
The more information you provide, the better. This information includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Complete name,
- Date of birth,
- Certificate number (if available),
- Date of entry,
- Port of entry,
- If accompanied, provide the names of companions (e.g., spouse’s name)
- If the person is deceased, please provide proof of death (such as a death certificate or executorship).
Can non-residents of Canada who are conducting genealogical research access family records held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada?
Non-residents of Canada are only eligible to make requests for their own personal information under the Privacy Act.
However, you may consider the following options for seeking other personal information records from IRCC:
If the personal information you seek pertains to an individual who has been deceased for more than 20 years, you may ask a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident to submit an Access to Information Act request on your behalf. Please note that any available records will be provided directly to the individual who submitted the request.
You may also wish to consult Library and Archives Canada’s Genealogy and Family History website for information about their records and resources.
- If the personal information you seek pertains to an individual who is living, you may submit a request under the Privacy Act for the individual’s personal information but only with that individual’s written consent. This written authorization must state that you are permitted to make a request and receive information on the individual’s behalf.
For information about how to submit a request for information, visit IRCC’s Access to information and privacy webpage.
I sponsored a family member who resides outside of Canada, and they applied for permanent residence at a visa office overseas. Can I obtain information on that file?
A: Yes. If you are seeking personal information about someone other than yourself, in this case, a family member’s file, you must:
- send a request under the Access to Information Act,
- get written consent from the family member, and anyone else over 18 years of age who is included in the file, to get their personal information and
- pay a C$5.00 application fee.
If, however, you are requesting information contained in your own sponsorship file, you must submit a request under the Privacy Act and no fees apply.
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