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Who Qualifies For Canadian Citizenship At Birth?

Most babies are bestowed citizenship of at least one country when they are born. That citizenship status can have a tremendous impact on that child’s life, from the educational opportunities they are given to the places they can travel to.

Citizenship also affects access to services. Many countries do not provide education or healthcare to people who are not citizens there. At least twenty countries will not provide childhood vaccines to non-citizens.

The rules of citizenship vary greatly from one country to the next. If possible, you should find out about your baby’s citizenship options before the birth. This is especially important if you are giving birth in a country that you yourself are not a citizen of. Every ten minutes, in some part of the world, a baby is born stateless – in other words, with no citizenship – in order to avoid this, you need to ensure that you know the rules.

In this article, we will go over the rules as to who qualifies for Canadian citizenship at birth.

Babies Born In Canada

Canada is one of 35 countries worldwide that have birthright citizenship. This means that any child born in Canada has a legal right to citizenship, regardless of the nationality or resident status of their parents. No application for citizenship has to be made: you can simply ensure that the birth is registered and then apply for a Canadian birth certificate. The birth certificate serves as proof of citizenship throughout the child’s life, and can be used for anything from school enrolment and provincial health benefits to a Canadian passport and the right to work or study in Canada.

Babies Born To Foreign Representatives

The one exception to this rule is babies who are born in Canada to foreign representatives, who instead take on the citizenship of the country their parents are representing. The mission or international organization should provide the Government of Canada with the birth details as soon as possible, so that the child can be granted the privileges and immunities that apply to the families of foreign representatives.

Babies Born Outside Of Canada

In most cases, babies born outside of Canada have the right to Canadian citizenship if:

  • At least one parent was born in Canada, or
  • At least one parent became a Canadian citizen through naturalization prior to the birth of the baby.

Remember that not all countries have birthright citizenship: what this means is that in some parts of the world, your child may not have an automatic right to citizenship in the country of their birth. You will need to ensure that relevant applications are made to secure the child’s legal status in that country. This is especially important in cases where the child’s parents are also not citizens of the child’s country of birth.

babies born outside of canada

Babies Born On Airplanes

Although it is generally thought that most pregnant people can safely travel up to their 36th week of pregnancy, most airlines restrict late-pregnancy travel without written permission from the pregnant person’s doctor. Childbirth during a flight can happen, though, and this raises an interesting question of which country would grant citizenship to the child.

It is widely assumed that babies born on an aircraft registered in Canada would automatically get Canadian citizenship, but this is only a sure thing if the airplane is occupying Canadian airspace at the time of birth. In all other cases, the parents have to make an application to the Government of Canada, which will assess the case based on the information presented.

Citizenship Of Babies Adopted By Canadian Parents

If you, as a Canadian citizen, adopt a baby from another country, that baby is not automatically granted Canadian citizenship. Before you bring the baby home to Canada, you will need to apply for either a grant of citizenship or a certificate of permanent residence. Some people can choose which of these processes to use; others must use one or the other based on certain criteria.

It should be noted that a baby who is given a grant of citizenship will not be eligible to pass on Canadian citizenship to their own children who are born outside of Canada. A baby who enters Canada as a permanent resident can later become a Canadian citizen by naturalization. That person’s children would then qualify for Canadian citizenship by descent.

What Rights Do Canadian Citizens Have?

If your baby is born with Canadian citizenship, they will have it for life. Citizenship does not expire, even if the person chooses to live in another country: the only way to lose Canadian citizenship is by renouncing it. As a citizen, your child will have the right to live and work in Canada, and to vote in municipal, provincial, and federal elections. They will also have the right to healthcare, but it should be noted that residency requirements may apply. This means that if the person lives outside of Canada for a long period of time, they may have to reapply for a provincial health card when they return.

Some employment positions in federal government departments are only open to Canadian citizens, as is the right to run for and hold office in the federal government.

Canada has a highly favourable international reputation, and those traveling on a Canadian passport are allowed entry into most countries without the need to get a visa ahead of time.

Birthright Canada – Helping You Plan For Your Baby

At Birthright Canada, we believe that all pregnant people deserve support, no matter who they are or what circumstances they find themselves in. Whether you need information about your choices, guidance on where to find prenatal care or baby supplies, or you simply need somebody to talk to, we can help. All of the support we offer is compassionate and non-judgmental, and designed to help you navigate what for many people is a very stressful time. Contact us today, and we will connect you with all of the help and resources you need.

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