I Came to Canada as a Child, How do I Prove My Citizenship?
If you came to Canada as a child decades ago and landed on your parent’s passport, you will need to demonstrate both that you landed in Canada and you became a Canadian citizen. In order to prove you are a citizen, you will need to provide your citizenship card or certificate. If, however, you do not have your certificate, you will have to apply for a Search of Citizenship Records to prove you became a citizen.
If you “landed” (became permanent resident) in Canada on your mother’s passport it can make it difficult to replace your landing paper, a document that can be used to prove your Canada citizenship. However, even if you have the old Landing Paper, that is only proof you landed in Canada. It is not proof you are a citizen.
A Search of Citizenship Records vs. Replacement of a Citizenship Certificate – What is the Difference?
Applying for a search of citizenship records of someone else can only be done on paper and is a different process from applying for your own citizenship certificate. However, you can also do a search of your own citizenship records.
A Search of a Citizenship Record: Click here to read the governments webpage.
- Confirms the date a person became a Canadian citizen
- Confirms the status as a Canadian citizen for use by employer’s or government agencies
- Can confirm that you are NOT a Canadian citizen in order to renew a foreign passport from a country that does not allow dual citizenship.
- Can be used for genealogical research
- Can be used to apply for a Canadian pension, confirming you are a citizen and thus eligible for that pension.
The result of a Search of a Citizenship Record (if a record of citizenship is found) is that the government sends you what is called a Record Letter.
- The Record Letter cannot be used as proof of your citizenship when applying for a passport, for example.
- The Record Letter is only valid for 6 months.
- The cost of a Search of a Citizenship Record is $75.
- A Search of a Citizenship Record takes 15 months (almost as long as applying for a certificate).
So, if you need to prove your citizenship and, for example, apply for a Canadian passport, then you should apply for a citizenship certificate and NOT instead a Search of a Citizenship Record.
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Search of Citizenship Records
If you became a citizen decades ago, as a child, or if you were so young you do not know if you became a citizen because you were so young, and you do not have proof of citizenship (a citizenship card or certificate), you can apply for a citizenship certificate. But what happens if IRCC rejects your application because they don’t know if you’re a citizen?
In that case, you need to file a Search of Citizenship Records application. When you file this application, a search will be made of all citizenship ceremonies. You will receive one of two documents:
Canadian Citizenship Record Letter
This letter will state the date you became a Canadian citizen and will give you further details. You can submit this letter with a new application for a citizenship certificate, so that you can prove your Canadian citizenship to IRCC.
Canadian Citizenship No Record Letter
The other possible result is that they are unable to find a record of you becoming a Canadian citizen. What that means is that you are still a permanent resident in the eyes of the Canadian government, no matter what you remember, no matter what your parents told you about becoming a citizen. You will have to apply for citizenship.
Verification of Status (VOS)
If you have a Verification of Status, which replaces an original landing paper (not the original landing paper), the VOS should indicate your citizenship status on the front under “Current Status.” If it says “citizen,” then you can use this document to prove your citizenship within Canada, and to apply for a new citizenship certificate.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.