To be eligible to become a Canadian citizen, you must meet the requirements in all of the following areas:
Permanent resident status
Time lived in Canada
Criminal history (prohibitions)
Knowledge of Canada
You must be at least 18 years old to apply for Canadian citizenship.
To apply for citizenship for a child under 18, make sure the following conditions are met:
- the person applying is the child’s parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian
- the child is a permanent resident, but does not need to have lived in Canada for three years; and
- one parent is already a Canadian citizen or is applying to become a citizen at the same time. This also applies to adoptive parents.
To become a Canadian citizen, you must have permanent resident status in Canada, and that status must not be in doubt. This means you must not be the subject of an immigration investigation, an immigration inquiry or a removal order (an order from Canadian officials to leave Canada).
To become Canadian citizens, adults must have lived in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the past four years before applying. Children under the age of 18 do not need to meet this requirement.You may be able to count time you spent in Canada before you became a permanent resident if that time falls within the four-year period.
Canada has two official languages- English and French. You need to have adequate knowledge of one of these two languages in order to become a Canadian citizen.
The citizenship knowledge test and your interaction with CIC staff will be used to assess if you have an adequate ability to communicate in either English or French. CIC staff will observe
- your ability to understand basic spoken statements and questions, and
- your ability to communicate basic information or respond to questions.
For example, as part of your interaction with departmental staff or as part of your written test or your interview with a citizenship judge, you will be expected to:
- answer simple questions on familiar topics, using short sentences;
- show that you know enough words for basic everyday communication;
- tell a simple story about everyday activities;
- speak about something you did in the past (or will do in the future);
- give simple everyday instructions and directions; and
- express satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
You cannot become a citizen if you:
- have been convicted of an indictable (criminal) offence or an offence under the Citizenship Act in the three years before you applied;
- are currently charged with an indictable offence or an offence under the Citizenship Act;
- are in prison, on parole or on probation;
- are under a removal order (have been ordered by Canadian officials to leave Canada);
- are under investigation for, are charged with, or have been convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity; or
- you have had your Canadian citizenship taken away in the past five years.
If you are on probation or are charged with an offence and are awaiting trial, you should wait until after the probation has ended or the trial is over to apply for citizenship.
If you have spent time on probation, on parole or in prison in the last four years, you may not meet the residence requirement for citizenship.
Time in prison or on parole does not count as residence in Canada. Time on probation also does not count as residence in Canada if you were convicted of an offence. If you have spent time on probation from a conditional discharge, it may be counted toward residence.
To become a citizen, you must understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, such as the right and responsibility to vote in elections. You must also have an understanding of Canada’s history, values, institutions and symbols.
The information you need to know is in our free study guide Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. We will send you a copy of it once we have received your application. The questions in the citizenship test are based on the information in this guide.