What is a “Lost Canadian”

Lost Canadians are individuals who believed themselves to be Canadian citizens, but actually lost their citizenship (or never had citizenship) through the operation of either the Canadian Citizenship Act, or prior legislation.

Did some Lost Canadians become citizens?

Bill C-37, which received Royal Assent on April 17, 2008, amends the Citizenship Act to give Canadian citizenship to those who lost or never had it, due to outdated provisions in existing and former legislation. The law came into effect on April 17, 2009, one year following Royal Assent. 

People who are citizens when the law came into force did not lose their citizenship as a result of these amendments. The law is retroactive to the time of birth or loss of citizenship, and gives citizenship to:

  • People who became citizens when the first citizenship act took effect on January 1, 1947 (including people born in Canada prior to 1947 and war brides) and who then lost their citizenship;
  • Anyone who was born in Canada or became a Canadian on or after January 1, 1947, and who then lost citizenship; and
  • Anyone born abroad to a Canadian on or after January 1, 1947, if not already a citizen, but only if they are the first generation born abroad.


The exceptions are those born in Canada to a foreign diplomat, those who renounced their citizenship with Canadian authorities, and those whose citizenship was revoked by the government because it was obtained by fraud.  (From http://en.wikipedia.org)

Are there still Lost Canadians?

There are two categories of people who may still be considered Lost Canadians.  First, there are people who are still waiting for their applications for Citizenship Certificates to be processed–waits are 12-15 months or longer.  Second, children born outside Canada after April 17, 2009 to Canadian parents who themselves were not born in Canada will not gain citizenship by descent (a problem essentially created by Bill C-37).

What does it take qualify as a natural-born Canadian citizen?


  • Birth in Canada: in general, anyone born in Canada from 1947 onwards acquired Canadian citizenship at birth. The only exceptions concern children born to diplomats, where additional requirements apply.  Most persons born in Canada before 1947 acquired Canadian citizenship on 1 January 1947 if still living at that date.
  • Birth by Descent. All individuals born outside Canada in the first generation born abroad to a parent who was a Canadian citizen at the time of the birth, are automatically recognized as Canadian citizens (retroactive to date of birth or date citizenship was lost) if the parent was born in Canada, or if the parent became a Canadian citizen, that is, by immigrating to Canada and being granted citizenship through naturalization.  (From http://en.wikipedia.org)


I qualify. How do I claim my citizenship?

Apply to the Canadian Government to receive a Citizenship Certificate (see instructions under Applying for a Citizenship Certificate).

I have never gotten a Citizenship Certificate.  Is there a way to prove that I am a Canadian without one?

If you were born in Canada, your birth certificate will act as proof of citizenship for most purposes.

Can I hold citizenship in Canada and another country?

From Canada’s standpoint, yes.  Canada allows dual citizenship.  However, there may be restrictions on dual citizenship placed on individuals by their other country.  US citizens who gained US citizenship by birth or descent can be dual citizens (despite myths to the contrary).

Are there drawbacks to dual citizenship for US citizens?

One.  If you want to qualify for a US Security Clearance, having taken action to secure citizenship in another country may be a negative factor as to eligility.