Having a Canadian passport can have many benefits, including voting, getting to leave the country for prolonged periods of time, and even the ability to get a Canadian passport. In fact, if you have been living in Canada for a longer time, you may want to apply for citizenship. But, how to become a Canadian citizen?

In fact, the entire process is not as long and as difficult as many think it may be. First of all, you will need to have moved to Canada and have lived there for a while. Then, you will also need to meet the language requirements and have spent three years in Canada. Then, you will need to pass the citizenship exam, will need to have a legal permanent residence in Canada, must have filed income tax, and must not have had ANY issues with the law. Besides this, you should also have ample knowledge of Canadian history and culture, as this will be tested. Easy enough? Let’s break it down even further, and let’s see what you can do, step-by-step, to turn your permanent residence into a citizenship. 

Canadian Citizenship Eligibility

To be able to apply for permanent residence, there are a number of conditions outlined above that you should be able to meet. Please beware that many of these conditions are also on the list of permanent residency requirements. For example, having a criminal record will easily deem you inadmissible to Canada and you will not be able to get your permanent residency or citizenship for a long time, depending on how serious the offense was. 

Below, we will consider each prerequisite in more detail: 

Must Have Spent Three Years in Canada

When you first migrate to Canada, you should keep track of all the time you have left the country and for how long. This will help you determine how many years you have spent in Canada in total. To be able to apply for citizenship, you will need to have been present in Canada for at least 1095 days or three full years immediately preceding the date of your citizenship application. 

This is fairly easy to achieve, as just about anyone with a standard work contract can easily fulfill this requirement. In fact, you would have to leave Canada for approximately 5 months every year to not be eligible under this requirement. 

It is important to note that you need not have had a permanent resident status for the whole duration of the three-year period. In fact, as a temporary resident, each day you spend in Canada is counted as half a day, up to 365 days or one year. Every day you spend physically present in Canada as a permanent resident is counted as one day. Technically, you could have spent two years as a temporary resident and two years as a permanent resident and you would be passing this requirement. 

Must Meet the Basic Language Requirements in either English or French

The language skills are important, whatever the country that you would like to live in. In fact, even as a temporary resident, you still need some English abilities to make sure you can enter the country and find your way around. When it comes to the citizenship request, you will need to prove your language proficiency: you will need at least CLB 4 to turn your resident card into a citizenship. This test is applicable to all who are between the ages of 18 and 54. In general, all people who got their Permanent Residence as principal applicants pass these requirements for citizenship. However, spouses, children, and sponsored family members may not and may have to take their language test. 

In fact, if you get your permanent residency, you do not need to take any tests. If you got your permanent residency while outside of Canada, you probably have an even higher result in at least one of the official languages of Canada (English or French). This is because all Canadian immigration programs as that you to present a language test score for review for immigration. CEC (Canadian Experience Class) and FSW (Federal Skilled Worker) ask for CLB 7, while the FST (Federal Skilled Trade) asks for CLB 4 for reading and writing and CLB 5 for listening and speaking. If you went to a secondary/post-secondary learning institution, you can also present your diploma/degree as proof that you know enough English. 

Pass the Citizenship Exam

The citizenship exam is a formal exam that you have to sit and pass in order to get Canadian citizenship. The content of the test relies on subjects such as

  • the rights and responsibilities of a Canadian citizen
  • the Canadian history
  • the Canadian political system
  • Canadian political geography
  • Canadian physical geography
  • questions about the province or territory that you live in

The questions can be true/false, multiple-choice, or even question-answer type of questions. If you fail, you can retake the exam. Although some may say that the exam is very easy, it is important to not take it lightly – around 4% of candidates used to fail, then this rose to 30% in 2010, and now it is around 20%. 

Must Not Have a Criminal Record

Even if you pass all other eligibility requirements for Canadian citizenship and pay the citizenship fees, you will be refused Canadian citizenship if you have a criminal record. Canada is a very safe country, and a part of the reason why is because of a thorough screening process and an easy refusal policy – your temporary and permanent residence may be refused on these grounds, you may be deemed inadmissible to Canada and even your citizenship can be revoked. In fact, your citizenship request will be refused if: 

  • your citizenship was revoked in the past ten years for reasons of fraud
  • you had your citizenship revoked in the past five years for the reasons of misrepresentation, hiding your financial/material status, or providing any kind of false information during the citizenship application time
  • you were or are under a removal order
  • you were convicted of an indictable offence both inside or OUTSIDE of Canada
  • you were investigated for war crimes
  • you were investigated for crimes against human rights
  • you are in a jail, prison, or reformatory
  • you are on parole or probation
  • you are serving a sentence outside of Canada

This is an abridged list. IRCC has a complete list of the reasons why your citizenship application may be rejected even after the application fees have been paid. Before making an application for Canadian citizenship, you should understand that you may also have the right to it by: 

  • having been born in Canada, even to non-Canadian parents
  • having been born outside of Canada but to Canadian parents

If you have a Canadian passport and citizenship, you are allowed to hold another one (dual citizenship). 

Legitimate Permanent Residence Status in Canada

To apply, you will also need to have a legitimate and legal permanent residency status in Canada. You will need to have settled this, as not having a legal status and applying for citizenship can be counterproductive, and you may be asked to leave the country. Always have all your papers in order and do not overstep any limitations that your permits or a visa say you have. This may be considered a serious offence in some cases and may deem you inadmissible to Canada, even with 

Must File Income Tax

If you had tax obligations in Canada, you must have resolved all of them. This pretty much means paying the entire outstanding balance and not having issues or outstanding balance with CRA – Canada Revenue Agency. You may be asked to prove that all your tax obligations have been paid for. 

Have Knowledge of Canadian Culture and History

A portion of the Citizenship exam relates to Canadian culture and history. While history is a topic easy to understand, culture may be a bigger issue to overcome. However, if you like Canadian media and films, a bit of literature, if you know the holidays that Canada celebrates (there are many, often international), and if you know what the political system is, you are often good to go. 

In general, these are the topics that are covered: 

  • history
  • geography
  • economy
  • government
  • laws
  • symbols

Documents Required to Apply for Citizenship in Canada

Most papers that you need for the PR requirements in Canada are the documents that you will also need when asking for a certificate of citizenship. You will need to submit the following documents to apply for citizenship in Canada:

  • printout of the Physical Presence Calculator or the CIT 0407 form
  • colour photocopy of all pages of your passport within the last five years, plus the first page. All your details should be clearly visible
  • photocopy of proof that you have a command of English and/or French language,
  • photocopy of two ID documents with a photograph, your name, and date of birth. If the document has two sides, photocopy both of them (your passport’s first page (containing the same details) can be used as one
  • Fee Receipt – CAD630 per adult applicant
  • the Document Checklist
  • form IMM5476 – if you want to use a Representative
  • police clearance/police certificate – if you have spent more than 183 days in a country outside of Canada since the age of 18 and for the four years before the application date
  • photocopy of legal name change documents – if you have changed your name for a reason, such as entering a marriage
  • CIT 0464 – request to Correct a Date of Birth – if you have made such a request
  • IRM 0002 – Request for a Change of Sex or Gender Identifier – if you have made such changes
  • CIT 0177 – Residence Outside of Canada – if you have one
  • Translations of all documents you should submit that have not been issued in English or French
  • Guardianship Document – if relating to you.

How Can I Become a Canadian Citizen?

When it comes to the actual application, there are document requirements that you should consider. Advanced education requirements and other titles may not help much during this application process – remember that you are already in Canada, so some requirements for your PR are valid, while some others are not. When it comes to the actual application process, you will need to be ready to apply first. 

This means that you have found a place to live and a job. You will also need to be at peace with Canada’s harsh winters, and high prices (in some cities) as well as with Canadian laws and other important aspects of Canadian society. Then, you can download the document checklist and start chipping away. You will also need to fill in an application form (separate for each applicant), and you will also need to take the citizenship exam. Once you have passed the exam, you take the Citizenship oath (at Citizenship ceremonies which are held several times a year). You will also need to wait for more than two years after the application has been made, as this is the normal processing time. 

1. Obtain an Application for Citizenship

If you are an adult, 18 years or older, you can apply for citizenship on your own. You will need a form called the “Application for Canadian Citizenship – Adults”. You also have to complete the online “Physical Presence Calculator”. This tool will let you know how many days exactly you have spent on the Canadian territory and you will have to do this as a part of the application process. 

However, if you are under 18 years of age at the time of application, your parents will have to apply for you. This is done on another form called the “Application for Canadian Citizenship – Minors”. Your parents have to do this on a separate form for each child they have (for all children under 18 years of age). However, unlike adults, children do not need their three years on Canadian soil to apply. It is enough that the parent who applies in their name has Canadian citizenship or has applied for one at the same time when submitting the child’s application. 

2. Complete the Application

Once you have downloaded the forms, you need to fill them out and download the document checklist. This way, you will know which documents to send to the IRCC alongside your application form. You can send multiple forms all at the same time and in the same envelope, and they will be processed together. You will also need to have paid the application fees (sometimes called the citizenship charge). You will also need to send the proof of language alongside all other documents. 

3. Take the Citizenship Exam

After this, you should take the citizenship exam. You will be asked questions about the history, culture, geography, nature, and political system of the country that you plan to spend the rest of your life in. You will also be asked about your local province and you should know that you need to answer 15 out of 20 questions to be eligible to pass and be able to join the citizenship ceremony. 

The entire exam has 20 questions, and these can be in either English or French, depending on your preferred language. The test itself takes around 30 minutes. During this time, you will need to be able to take both the written and the oral exams – in reality, you will only need to take one. In the case you fail the exam for the first time, you are more likely to be asked to take the oral exam the next time. 

As Canadian history is a broad topic, you will need to know a lot about it to pass the exam. Luckily, there is a short version of the test preparation materials called ‘Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship’. Please beware that preparing these documents is enough, but also that you will need to have good knowledge of English or French to take the test.

After the test, you will be asked to have an interview. This happens for a variety of reasons, but mostly because there may be a need for additional questions. All in all, this is a normal part of the test, and the interview is a normal part of the test. 

4. Take the Citizenship Oath

If you have passed the test, you will be asked to take the oath of citizenship. The oath can be given multiple times a year and you will need to attend one such Citizenship Ceremony if you are 14 years or older. After you have pledged the oath, you receive your citizenship certificate and you sign the Oath or Affirmation or Citizenship form. 

What Happens Once You Submit Your Application?

Contrary to popular belief, it takes 26 months for the citizenship application to be processed. As this is very long, you need to arm yourself with patience. The processing times can get shorter, but not by much, as there may also be additional requirements at the time of your application. What you can do to make sure you get the citizenship on the earliest possible notice is to secure you send all the documents at once. You may need to contact an immigration lawyer if you have had any issues with the law, but in the meantime, follow the laws and follow the normal application procedures. 

canadian citizenship requirements

Physical Presence Requirements for Canadian Citizenship Application

Another important aspect to be able to meet the eligibility criteria is that you have spent three years (non-continuous) on the Canadian territory within the five years preceding your application. You will need to ensure that you have a valid PR card for the duration of this period, and you also need to make sure that you do not leave Canada for prolonged periods of time – a vacation is fine, but leaving the country for six months to go and work elsewhere is something else. 

What Is a Permanent Resident Status?

We’ve mentioned before that you need to have a permanent residency status to be able to apply for citizenship. What this would say is that you need to secure enough funds for the processing fee and the settlement fee to be able to apply for it. Permanent residency in Canada is a serious step forward on your way to citizenship, and once you have it, you should do your best not to endanger it. Remember that all the offences that can risk your chances of getting citizenship can also get your permanent residency revoked. 

What Is the Dual Citizenship in Canada?

When it comes to Canadian dual citizenship, there is one more benefit. Namely, the citizenship official take of Canada is that you can have dual citizenship. If you would like to keep the citizenship of another country as well, you will have to check with that country first. If they allow dual citizenship as well, this is a good way to ensure you get to keep both. 

In this case, you can proceed to download the citizenship application package and fill out the Citizenship Application form. However, some countries may not recognize the affirmation of citizenship of another country. In this case, renunciation of the old citizenship has to take place – the application for citizenship in Canada can be made.

When Is It Impossible To Become a Canadian Citizen?

Of course, just because you have the right paperwork does not mean that you will automatically be awarded Canadian citizenship and travel documents. In fact, any stage of the citizenship process can be compromised by you breaking Canadian citizenship laws or any other laws. The Canadian citizenship status is a privilege, not a right. 

In fact, here are some offences and other factors that can work against your Canadian citizenship process: 

  • you are under review for immigration fraud reasons
  • have been asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada
  • have not fulfilled your PR status – for example, you did not supply your medical examination 
  • you are not a Canadian permanent resident, 
  • do not meet all the requirements
  • do not meet all the requirements in English or French language skills
  • have only a temporary residence permit
  • have failed the Canadian citizenship test
  • have been convicted of a criminal offence in the past 10 years
  • have been convicted of an offence or summary offence in the past 5 years
  • have had your citizenship revoked
  • have supplied false documents and do not comply with all Canadian visa requirements (both your current and past visas) 
  • have not had Canadian residency for long enough (three years within the past five years)
  • are on parole, probation, or incarcerated (in prison)
  • have been convicted of a crime against human rights or a war crime


Is Canada a Good Place to Live?

Yes, Canada is an excellent place to live. It provides excellent social services, excellent education opportunities as well, and great chances to work and showcase your skills and abilities to make a living for yourself and your family. If you are thinking about moving to Canada and searching for a Canadian residence, this is the perfect place to be. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Citizenship Certificate After Oath in Canada?

Once you have sworn the oath, you need to sign an oath of citizenship. You need to email a digital copy to IRCC within 48 hours. Then, you need to wait for 2-4 weeks, as this is the processing time for the issuing of your citizenship certificate. Then, you will receive the certificate in the mail, by Canada Post. 

Do I Need IELTS for Canadian Citizenship?

You may not need IELTS for Canadian Citizenship. This is one of the rare criteria that can be left unfulfilled criteria, and this is true for those younger than 18 and older than 54. In fact, those in between may not need an IELTS at all – for as long as they can prove their knowledge of English or French, by means of a secondary or post-secondary diploma a degree, or even a certification issued by another body. 

Final Thoughts

Your journey to Canadian citizenship can be a simple one, especially if you are eligible for all criteria. Once you are already in Canada and have spent at least three full years there, you will need to have had enough time to think about whether this is where you would like to stay. If this is the case, you can apply for citizenship using our guide above and secure travel documents and additional rights that you may not have had as a permanent resident. 

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