Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

Genealogy and Family History

What to Search: Topics

Immigration and Citizenship


From 1763 until the Canadian Citizenship Act came into force on January 1, 1947, people born in Canada were all British subjects. Since immigrants born in Great Britain and the Commonwealth were already British subjects, they had no need to become naturalized or to obtain British citizenship in Canada.

A number of earlier laws governed naturalization before 1947. Under these acts, aliens could petition for naturalization. If successful, they would swear allegiance to the British sovereign and would be granted the rights of someone born within the British Empire.

In order to apply for citizenship, a person had to have resided in Canada for a minimum number of years since his or her time of entry.

From 22 May 1868 to 4 May 1910:

2 years

From 5 May 1910 to 6 June 1919:

3 years

From 7 June 1919 to 14 February 1977:

5 years

From 15 February 1977 to present:

3 years

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Upper Canada and Canada West Naturalization Registers, 1828-1850

Library and Archives Canada holds 188 naturalization registers for Upper Canada and Canada West (Ontario) for the years 1828 to 1850. The registers have been digitized and are available online. The use of this digitized database is facilitated by a name index.

Upper Canada Naturalization Register, 1848. Library and Archives Canada, RG 5 B47, vol. 8. p. 1, reel C-15693


Upper Canada Naturalization Register, 1848.
Library and Archives Canada,
RG 5 B47, vol. 8. p. 1, reel  C-15693.

Citizenship Registration Records for the Montreal Circuit Court (1851-1945)

Library and Archives Canada holds 8432 records created by the Circuit Court office in Montreal. Most records were created between 1868 and 1916. A typical file will include:

  • the petition
  • the oath of residence
  • the oath of allegiance
  • and the certificate issued by a Justice of the Peace

and provide the following information for each petitioner:

  • name
  • age
  • residence
  • former residence
  • place of birth
  • length of residence in Canada
  • occupation
  • and date of naturalization.

A database allows you to access the files by surname and/or given name.

Citizenship Registration Records for the Montreal Circuit Court (1851-1945)

Research in Other Institutions

Citizenship and Immigration Canada holds records of naturalization and citizenship from 1854 to the present. The originals of records dated between 1854 and 1917 have been destroyed.

However, a card index by name has survived, which provides information compiled at the time of naturalization, such as:

  • present and former place of residence;
  • former nationality;
  • occupation;
  • date of certification; and
  • name and location of the responsible court.

The index rarely contains any other genealogical information. Please note that Library and Archives Canada does not hold a copy of that card index.

Records created after 1917 are more detailed, indicating:

  • surname;
  • given name;
  • date and place of birth;
  • entry into Canada; and
  • names of spouses and children.

Requests for searches of naturalization/citizenship indexes and records from 1854 to the present should be mailed to:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Public Rights Administration
360 Laurier Avenue West, 10th Floor
Ottawa, ON
K1A 1L1

Please note that the following conditions apply:

  • Each application for copies must be submitted on an Access to Information Request Form by a Canadian citizen or an individual residing in Canada. Fee: $5.00, payable to the Receiver General for Canada.
  • The request must be accompanied by a signed consent from the person concerned or proof that he/she has been deceased 20 years. Proof of death can be a copy of a death record, a newspaper obituary or a photograph of the gravestone showing name and death date. Proof of death is not required if the person would be over 110 years of age.

Your request should include the full name, date and place of birth, and if possible, the Canadian citizenship number or naturalization certificate number.

Copies of Access to Information Request Forms can be obtained from most Canadian public libraries and federal government offices or downloaded from Info Source [].

Important Note

To request a search of your own records for proof of your status or to obtain a citizenship certificate, you must submit an Application for a Search of Citizenship Records or an Application for a Citizenship Certificate to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, [].

Research Online

Canadian Naturalization 1915-1951 database

Research in Provincial Sources

Many Provincial and Territorial Archives hold records relating to naturalization records.

Related Topics