How to Get Citizenship in Canada: A Complete Guide

How to get citizenship in Canada

If you’re planning to move to Canada, understanding the immigration process is essential, and one of the most important things to learn is how to obtain Canadian citizenship.


The Canadian immigration process can be complicated, but we are here to help. This article, created by our team here at Remitly, will outline the necessary steps to become a Canadian citizen.

Getting started

A good place to start when learning how to obtain Canadian citizenship is with this tool provided by the Canadian government. Found on the Citizenship Canada website, it helps you figure out if you’re eligible to become a permanent resident and if you may already be eligible for citizenship.

To use the tool, visit the website and click the “Check your eligibility” button. The tool will then ask you questions to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for Canadian citizenship

Canadian citizenship eligibility criteria

To become a citizen of Canada, most applicants must:

  • Claim permanent resident status
  • Have lived in Canada for at least three of the past five years (or 1,095 days), also called “physical presence”
  • Have filed any necessary taxes
  • Pass a citizenship test
  • Prove their language skills in English or French. These are the two official languages of Canada.

How to become a permanent resident of Canada

A prerequisite to becoming a citizen of Canada is to be a permanent resident of Canada at the time of your application. Permanent residency is not the same as citizenship. Permanent residents receive a permanent resident card that they must carry with them when traveling in Canada and abroad.

Any person wishing to apply for a permanent residency card must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have been physically present in Canada for at least 730 days in the past five years (already a permanent resident)
  • Show that they will spend at least 730 days in Canada within the next five years
  • Undergo a medical screening
  • Provide a criminal record check

There are several ways to show your intended status as a permanent resident. These include obtaining a work permit and obtaining proof of address in Canada.

Express entry

The Express Entry program is available to eligible workers under the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Canadian Experience Class.

You may qualify for the Express Entry system through the Federal Skilled Workers Program if you have at least one year of paid work experience in one occupation that benefits the Canadian economy.

Some examples of occupations covered by this federal program include medical and professional health professionals, natural and applied scientists, and trade workers like construction technicians, metalworkers, ironworkers, and electricians. For a complete list of eligible occupations, visit this site.

You may qualify for Express Entry to become a permanent resident through the Federal Skilled Trades Program if you have two years of paid work experience in one of the top trades that are in demand in Canada. For example, if you have experience in the industrial, electrical, manufacturing, or culinary trades. For a complete list of eligible trades, visit this site.

You may qualify for the Canadian Experience Class if you are a skilled worker with work experience in Canada. To be eligible, you must meet the required Canadian language benchmarks for your job, have one year of skilled work experience in Canada, and have gained work experience in Canada as a legal temporary resident.

Get Citizenship in Canada

Provincial nominee programs

Another way to obtain residency in Canada is through a Provincial Nomination process. This program may be a good option if you intend to immigrate to and settle in a particular Canadian province. Since each Canadian province has its own criteria, applicants must contact the immigration office representative in their chosen province and follow the specific application process.

Start-up business-class immigration

The start-up visa program is designed to encourage and facilitate the admission of entrepreneurs, investors, and self-employed individuals. Your start-up will need to have received a funding commitment to qualify. You can learn more about Canada’s start-up business immigration programs here.

Family class immigration

If you have family members who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada, they may be able to help you apply for permanent residency through a sponsorship process.

Quebec-selected immigration

Specifically for the province of Quebec, this program is for skilled workers who want to become permanent residents of Canada and live in Quebec. Quebec has a special agreement with the government of Canada regarding immigration and has its own program requirements.

One program unique to the province is the Quebec immigrant investor program. The program grants Canadian permanent residence to individuals who have a net worth of at least CAN$2 million, have previous management experience, and have made a minimum investment of CAN$1.2 million with an organization called IQ Immigrants Investisseurs Inc for five years.

In addition to the Quebec immigrant investor program, the province also offers permanent resident status to entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals. For the Quebec entrepreneur program, an individual can start a business or purchase an existing business.

To qualify for permanent residence through the self-employed program, you must have a minimum net worth of CAN$ 100,000. In addition, you must show proof of having been self-employed for at least two years and make a minimum deposit at a Canadian bank.

How to file your taxes in Canada

A necessary step in achieving citizenship status is to make sure you have filed any required income taxes in Canada. Similar to filing income taxes in the United States, you must report your income; claim any applicable deductions, credits, and expenses; and submit your completed tax return.

Science World in Vancouver, Canada

Canadian Citizenship Process

Once you have completed all the above steps, you may be ready to apply for citizenship in Canada. In many cases, you start the process of applying for citizenship online. Processing times for the application form may vary depending on several factors. It’s important to remember that the process may take up to one year or more.

While it is not required in your citizenship application, it is a good idea to begin building credit in Canada and to open a Canadian bank account.

Step 1: Apply for Canadian citizenship

The easiest way to apply for citizenship is to fill out an application online.

Another option is to request an application package, including instructions, a paper application form to fill out, and a checklist of necessary documents.

To apply for Canadian citizenship, you need to fill out the application form, submit all necessary documents, pay application fees, and send in your application.

Step 2: Prepare for the citizenship test and interview

Whether you have to take the Canadian citizenship test and attend an interview depends on your age. If you are between the ages of 18 and 54, you may need to both take the test and go to the interview. There are special circumstances for those under the age of 18 or adults 55 or older.

Prior to the Canadian citizenship test, you will receive a Notice to Appear. You will need to bring the Notice to Appear, your permanent resident card, two pieces of personal identification, all your passports and travel documents, proof of English or French language proficiency, and other documents asked for in the Notice to Appear document.

The test consists of 20 questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians and about Canadian history, geography, economy, government, laws, and symbols. The test is based on the official citizenship study guide.

The citizenship test doesn’t assess your language proficiency in English or French. You have 30 minutes to take the test and need 15 correct answers to pass.

There are resources available to help you prepare for the citizenship test and interview.

After the test, you’ll meet with a citizenship official for an interview. During the interview, the official will give you the results of your test, check your language skills (for those ages 18-54), verify your application and documentation, ask questions about your application, and ensure that you meet all the requirements for citizenship.

If you pass and meet the citizenship requirements, the official may give you a Canadian citizenship ceremony date.

Step 3. Attend the citizenship ceremony

Your final step to becoming a Canadian citizen is to attend the citizenship ceremony, during which you will take the Oath of Citizenship.

Citizenship ceremonies occur across the country and at all times of the year. There are special ceremonies on Canada Day and during Citizenship Week. Adults and children over the age of 14 must attend the citizenship ceremony and take the oath.

In addition to taking the Oath of Citizenship, you will receive your citizenship certificate, sign the Oath of Affirmation of Citizenship form, and sing the national anthem, “O Canada.”

What to do after the citizenship ceremony

Once you’ve passed the citizenship test, aced your interview, and completed the citizenship ceremony, you become a citizen of Canada. You can now apply for a Canadian passport, register to vote in elections, and even receive one-year free admission to Canada’s natural parks and cultural centers.

For more information for new Canadian citizens, click here.

FAQs about obtaining Canadian citizenship

Still have questions about obtaining Canadian citizenship? Check out our answers to frequently asked questions about permanent residence and citizenship.

Can someone from the U.S. obtain Canadian citizenship?

Yes, a person from the U.S. can obtain citizenship in Canada. They will need first to obtain permanent residency and meet the other citizenship requirements outlined above.

What is the difference between Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents?

As previously mentioned, permanent residency status, also known as PR status, is not the same as Canadian citizenship.

Someone who has permanent residence status in Canada can have a permanent job in the country and legally reside in Canada.

However, they don’t have the same rights as a Canadian citizen. In Canada, citizenship entitles a person to vote and run for public office. You don’t receive these rights with permanent residency.

Canadian citizenship allows obtaining a Canadian passport, while permanent residents receive a PR card. You must periodically renew this card, which could be canceled if you no longer meet the requirements for permanent residency.

With Canadian citizenship and a valid Canadian passport, a person can enter Canada from abroad without restrictions. In some circumstances, someone with a PR card may need to apply for a visa to enter Canada after leaving for an international trip.

In addition, Canadian citizenship offers the opportunity to live outside of Canada for an indefinite period. With permanent residence, you must live in Canada for two out of every five years. Those who don’t meet this requirement may lose their permanent residence.

Does Canada allow dual citizenship?

Canada does allow dual citizenship, but each country independently decides whether it permits more than one country to recognize you as a citizen. Some countries have restrictions on dual citizenship that you should know about before applying to become a Canadian citizen.

If you want to learn how to get citizenship in Canada from the U.S., dual citizenship is likely possible. Both countries permit dual citizenship, and U.S. citizens typically only need to go through the process of becoming a Canadian citizen to get dual status.

For citizens of other countries, it’s necessary to research to find out whether you can obtain Canadian citizen status without renouncing your current citizenship.

Can you become a citizen by serving in the Canadian Armed Forces?

Individuals who hold permanent residence status in Canada can fast-track their Canadian citizenship application if they’re a current or past member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Members of foreign military groups who are on exchange with the CAF may also qualify for expedited Canadian citizenship. Visit this page to learn more about the Canadian citizenship program for military service.

How much does it cost to get Canadian citizenship?


As of July 2023, the cost to apply for Canadian citizenship was CAN$ 630 for adults and $100 for minors. Stateless adults born to Canadian parents who are 18 and over also pay $100.

In addition to the application fee, there is a CAN$ 100 Right of Citizenship fee that all individuals applying to become Canadian citizens must pay. If you require a citizenship certificate for your records, you will typically be assessed a fee of CAN$ 75.

Keep in mind that there are additional costs associated with applying for Canadian citizenship. You will need to pay a permanent residence fee when you first immigrate to Canada. The fee amount varies based on the type of permanent residence you apply for.

In addition, you may need to pay to have any supporting documents translated from your native language to one of the official languages of Canada.

Can a Canadian citizen sponsor someone who isn’t a family member?

The family sponsorship program for Canadian citizenship is for family members only. However, a permanent residence program is available for live-in caregivers hired by Canadian citizens.

If a person were to move to Canada and receive permanent residence through the program, they could eventually get Canadian citizenship by following the steps outlined above.

Should a person not qualify for the live-in caregiver program, they typically can only be sponsored by a Canadian citizen if they are family members. Those who aren’t family members of a Canadian citizen may still be able to get Canadian citizenship through other immigration programs like the investment programs offered by Quebec and the federal government.

Do you need to be fluent in French or English for Canadian citizenship?

No, you typically don’t need to be fluent to obtain Canadian citizenship. To qualify, you must prove that you are at Level 4 of the Canadian Language Benchmarks for both listening and speaking. This typically means that you understand basic grammar and have a working vocabulary.

For more information about the language proficiency standards for Canadian citizenship, check out this Canadian government website.

Do you need Canadian citizenship to open a bank account in Canada?

No, you don’t need Canadian citizenship to open a bank account in Canada. Many banks will open accounts for individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens, provided they have the necessary identification. Check out our article on how to open a bank account in Canada for more information.

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