Applying for citizenship: A step-by-step guide

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Interested in applying for Canadian citizenship? There have been some changes to the process. If you are applying this year, follow these steps:

Step 1: Check if you are qualified to apply

Applicants for citizenship must meet certain conditions. These include the following:

  1. Permanent Residency – You should have PR status and your status must not be in question.
  2. Time lived in Canada – You must have been physically present in Canada for at least 1095 days within the past 5 years. Use the Physical Presence Calculator to check.
    • Trips abroad –record your trips abroad prior to your application. Note the country, the inclusive dates and the reason for travel. You will be required to enclose the results of using the Physical Presence Calculator in your application. You will also need to get a police certificate for each country outside of Canada where you spent 183 days (around 6 months) or more.
    • If you were a temporary resident or protected person, some of your time spent in Canada before you were a PR may be counted. “Each day spent physically in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident within the last 5 years will count as one half day, with a maximum of 365 days, towards your physical presence.”
    • There are special considerations about meeting the minimum time lived in Canada if you are a Crown Servant or a family member of a Crown Servant.
    • These requirements don’t apply to children under 18 where a parent or guardian has applied on their behalf for citizenship using the subsection 5(2) application form.
  3. Income Tax Filing – you must have filed your Income Tax returns in the three tax years within the five years before the date of application.
  4. Language abilities – you must show that you can speak and listen in English or French. Applicants 18-54 years old must submit proof that they are Level 4 or higher in speaking and listening abilities in (Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC). You may submit:
    • Results of third-party language tests such as CELPIP-General or IELTS-General. See a complete list of acceptable language tests here: Third-party language tests.
    • A certificate from a federally-funded Language Instruction for Newcomers Course (LINC) or Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada (CLIC) program.
    • Completion of a Secondary or Post-Secondary Program in English or French in Canada or abroad. You can send your diploma, transcript, or certificate. The proof must be written in English or in French. If it is in another language, you must also send a certified English or French translation. It should show that the program was in English or French, and not just a single course.
  5. Prohibitions – you may not be eligible to apply if you have committed offences in or outside Canada. If you have been charged, on trial, or convicted for an offence or serving a sentence in prison, you may not be qualified to apply for citizenship for a period of time. Go to: prohibitions to see a complete list of situations that may prevent you from becoming a Canadian citizen.
    Use this quick tool to CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY.

Step 2: Gather your documents

Download the Document Checklist to make it easier for you to track what documents you need. Review the checklist before you send your application to make sure it is complete. You will also need to include the completed Document Checklist in your application. Your application should include:

  1. Original print out of your Online Presence Calculation or Form CIT 0407
  2. The completed Application Form (for adults, 18 years or older).

    Tips for filling out IRCC application forms


  4. Photocopies of all valid and expired passports or travel documents in the past five years. Make sure that they are complete and that there are no gaps in time between the travel documents. IRCC will ask for an explanation if there are gaps.
    • If you didn’t have a passport in the past 5 years, send photocopies of 2 pieces of government issued identification with your name, date of birth, and photograph
    • If you had a passport in the past 5 years, send a photocopy of one piece of government issued identification with your name, date of birth, and photograph
  5. Your proof of English or French language ability. If you are unable to demonstrate your language ability due to a medical condition, submit supporting evidence. Photocopy one of the following:
    • Audiogram and an attestation issued by a Canadian audiologist if you are hearing impaired
    • Evidence from a medical practitioner in Canada if you have a disorder, disability or condition that is cognitive, psychiatric or physiological in nature.
  6. Photocopy of personal identification.
  7. Two (2) identical citizenship photos. Check the link for specifications.

Complete application packages may be seen on this page: Get an application package.

More than one application? If you are applying for more than one person (for example, you and your wife), place all the application forms and requirements in the same envelope. This could save time. If you send your applications separately, IRCC will process them one at a time.

Step 3: Pay the fee

You have to do this online. You will need a credit card and an email address. IRCC will send your receipt via email. Print the receipt and include it in your application.

Application fee (as of 2021) is: CAD 630 per adult (18 and over). CAD 100 per minor (under 18).

Step 4: Submit your application

Go over all of your documents. Check and double check if everything is complete and in order (go through the checklist). Don’t forget to sign and date the appropriate forms.

You can send the application package via regular mail to:
Case Processing Centre-Sydney
Citizenship Grants
P.O. Box 7000
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6V6

Or via courier to:
Case Processing Centre—Sydney
Citizenship Grants
47–49 Dorchester Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 5Z2

Step 5: Prepare for the test

While waiting for the notice from IRCC, you can start studying for your citizenship test. Read the Official Study Guide (Discover Canada – The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship). If you want to attend classes to review, sign up for our Citizenship Classes held every Wednesday. You can also try testing your knowledge by answering online quizzes on these sites: Toronto Public Library, Richmond Public Library or Apna Toronto Canadian Citizenship Test. Be guided that these are reviewers. These materials do not have the exact questions that are on the citizenship test.

You can also read Citizenship Study Materials for Newcomers to Manitoba which is based on the Discover Canada study guide. It is written in plain English and has additional materials such as guide questions and tips on preparing for the test.

Application processing can take several months. You can check current Processing times on the site. You can also check the e-client service: Check application status – On-Line Services. You will need to supply personal information like your UCI or Unique Client Identifier. For your security, don’t forget to logout after a session.

Step 6: Take the test

IRCC will send you a notice with the date and place of your exam. It will also tell you what you need to bring. However, due to the pandemic, most in-person tests have been cancelled. IRCC is currently piloting the online citizenship test for those who are on the waiting list and those whose tests have been postponed. This is by invitation only. To know more about the online citizenship test, read Taking the online citizenship test? Here are 3 tips for success.

The Citizenship Test is a multiple-choice exam consisting of 20 questions. The questions are based on the Discover Canada book – The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship booklet. You must answer at least 15 correctly to pass the test. You will be given 30 minutes to complete it.

Inform IRCC right away if the exam schedule doesn’t work for you. Failure to do so may close or delay your application. Send a letter of explanation or use the Web Form. Check this page for more information about rescheduling.

Step 7: Wait for the decision

After the test, you will be informed on the same day if you passed or failed. The immigration officer will also conduct a short interview to check your language proficiency and verify your documents. If you passed the test, IRCC will send you an invitation to the citizenship ceremony by mail. This is the ceremony where you will take the Oath of citizenship. You need to wait several months after the test for the ceremony to be held (In-person ceremonies have been cancelled at this time. The IRCC may inform you about taking the Oath of Citizenship via video call).

If you did not pass the test, you can take it again in three to four weeks (estimated). IRCC will send you a letter containing the date, time, and place. If you don’t pass the second test, you will be called in to attend a 30-90 minute interview with a citizenship officer. The interview is done to test your knowledge about Canada and your language proficiency.

Step 8: Attend the ceremony and take the oath

Normally, adults and children ages 14 or over are required to attend the citizenship ceremony (children below 14 are welcome to attend). This is where you recite the Oath of Citizenship before a judge or presiding official. After the oath, your Certificate of Canadian Citizenship is handed to you. However, just like in-person tests, all citizenship events have been cancelled until further notice. IRCC is currently holding video oath ceremonies instead.

Find more details here: Prepare for the citizenship ceremony.
Article updated as of April 2021. As this is only a guide, please verify with the IRCC before applying as requirements, processing times and fees may change.

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