Since February 2012, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) scrapped the citizenship card and they now issue paper citizenship certificates. If you have a citizenship card, there is no need to apply for a certificate – your card is still valid proof of your status as a Canadian citizen.
If you misplaced your citizenship card or certificate, or it has been damaged, you can apply for a replacement.
If you have lost your proof of citizenship, it is important to replace it as soon as possible because you may need it to renew your passport or demonstrate proof of your status for education or employment opportunities. Also, the processing times can be lengthy (expect 5 months at a minimum), so applying as quickly as possible is best.
What is the Process for Applying?
In order to get a replacement, citizens will need to make an application which includes filling out forms, obtaining a photo and submitting supporting documents.
It is important to get a photo with the right specifications before you submit your application. A passport photo does not have the same dimensions that a citizenship photo has and there are specific requirements for how the face is framed and the background colour of the photo. Many applications are delayed because an incorrect photo is submitted. Do not make this simple mistake and cost yourself extra time.
The types of documents you will need to submit depending on when your citizenship application was filed, how you became a citizen (i.e. through parents that were Canadian citizens, naturalizing through a permanent residence grant, etc.) and your personal situation. The rules for citizenship grants in Canada have changed throughout the years, so you will need to understand which category you fall under to make sure you submit all of the proper documents and avoid a refusal or processing delays.
Applications filed from inside Canada can take up to 5 months, or more, to process. For applications filed at visa offices outside of Canada, it can take 9 months or longer. If you are applying to replace a minor’s citizenship certificate, the process can take even longer – anywhere from 8 months to more than a year. Given the time it takes to get a new certificate, you want to ensure that you do not create any delays by submitting an incomplete application.
I live in BC and my citizenship certificate was damaged in the wildfires. Can I get a free replacement?
IRCC has implemented special measures for BC residents affected by the summer 2018 wildfires. If your citizenship card or certificate was lost or destroyed during the fires, the government will process your application on an expedited basis and will waive the processing fee to relieve the burden of having to apply for a replacement.
If you have not made an application to replace your document yet, you need to do so by January 6, 2018. Otherwise, the regular processing time and application processing fee will apply to you. If you already made an application on or after July 7, 2017 (but before January 8, 2018) and you paid the fee, you can apply for a refund.
When you file your application, you will need to indicate that you were affected by the wildfires by submitting a personal statement and proof of your address. If you submitted an application between July 7, 2017, and January 8, 2018, but did not include details of how you were impacted by the fire, you can reach out to the processing centre to update them and let them know your application is urgent.
A similar process applies to anyone who lost other immigration documents as well, including passports, PR cards, refugee travel documents or temporary status documents (i.e. a work permit, study permit or visitor record).
If you need help applying for a replacement document, including a citizenship certificate, or are looking for help navigating the process to request a fee waiver and expedited processing due to the BC wildfires, we can help you make sure you submit a complete application and make a proper request for expedited processing.