Citizenship and Immigration Canada
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True or False?

Children born outside of Canada (including the so-called “border babies’ born just across the Canada-U.S. border) to a Canadian parent between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, automatically became Canadian citizens.

This is false: Under the 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act, children born outside Canada to a Canadian parent had to be registered in order to be recognized as Canadian citizens. This included “border babies” born across the Canada/U.S. border.

The facts

The term “border babies” generally refers to children born between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, to one or two Canadian parents in an American hospital because it was closer to their home than the hospital in the nearest Canadian town. Aside from the short time spent in the hospital at birth, most border babies have lived all or most of their lives in Canada.

In common with the rules for all children born outside Canada to a Canadian parent between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, in order for a border baby to become a Canadian citizen, the birth had to be registered with citizenship officials. Under the 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act, the child had to be registered within two years of the birth. This period was extended by the 1977 Citizenship Act and those whose birth had not yet been registered could register it between February 15, 1977, and August 14, 2004.

People who were born before February 15, 1977, and whose births were registered between February 15, 1977, and August 14, 2004, were issued a citizenship certificate as proof of Canadian citizenship.

Between 1947 and 1977, when the birth of a child (including border babies) born outside Canada to a Canadian parent was registered, citizenship officials issued a Registration of Birth Abroad (RBA) certificate as proof of Canadian citizenship.

If you have, or had, an RBA certificate and you need to replace it because it has been lost, stolen or damaged, you will need to apply for a citizenship certificate as replacement RBAs are no longer issued. Applying for a citizenship certificate is not the same as applying to become a Canadian citizen. The certificate is simply meant to replace your proof of Canadian citizenship.

The requirement to register a child born to a Canadian parent outside Canada was eliminated under the 1977 Citizenship Act, which took effect February 15, 1977. According to the 1977 act, children born outside of Canada to a Canadian parent after February 14, 1977, automatically became Canadian citizens.* It is recommended that they apply for a citizenship certificate in order to have proof of their Canadian citizenship when, for example, they apply for a passport.

The CIC website has more information for you if you were born outside Canada after February 14, 1977.

Some people who were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent who was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent must take steps to retain their citizenship before turning 28 years old.

For more information about retaining your Canadian citizenship, please see Retention of Canadian Citizenship.

The new law

A new law will come into effect on April 17, 2009, amending the Citizenship Act. The new law will give Canadian citizenship to certain individuals who lost it and to others who will be recognized as citizens for the first time. Citizenship will be automatic and retroactive to the date of loss or the date of birth, depending on the situation. All individuals who are Canadian citizens at the time the law comes into effect will keep their citizenship.

The law will give citizenship to border babies who were not registered as citizens and restore citizenship to border babies who lost it other than by renunciation, as long as they were born in the first generation outside Canada.

The law will also change on April 17, 2009, to end the need to retain citizenship for many people. However, people born outside Canada who are subject to the retention rules and who will turn 28 before the new law comes into effect must still take action to retain their citizenship.

The new law will not restore citizenship to people who lost it because they did not meet the present requirements before turning 28.

Find out more about the new law and who will be affected by it.

Questions?

We have updated our website to make it easier for people who have questions on citizenship to determine what their situation is and to know what steps to take next.

Any person in Canada with questions about their citizenship status can contact the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100.

* If you were born outside Canada after February 14, 1977, and your Canadian parent was also born outside Canada, you may need to take steps to keep your Canadian citizenship.

More on myths and misconceptions about Canada’s citizenship and immigration programs