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I will always be a Canadian citizen. But I’ve been a permanent resident of the United States for the last decade.
My husband is American, and our baby was born in the United States — which makes my son a dual citizen.
My son is a Canadian citizen by descent — because I was born in Canada. The new law limits citizenship by descent to 1 generation born outside Canada. This means his children will not become Canadian citizens automatically if they are born outside of Canada.
Since his birth, I’ve been working on applying and gathering my son’s documents for his dual citizenship. Applying for his U.S. passport was relatively easy.
Here’s what it was like applying for a U.S. Child Passport.
But when it came to his Canadian passport, my first attempt at his application was denied — because I was missing information: proof of his Canadian citizenship. Apparently, my Canadian birth certificate and Canadian passport were not eligible ways to prove his automatic citizenship. I had to provide an actual Canadian Citizenship Certificate for my son instead.
I’m a Canadian, but I had never actually seen a Citizenship Certificate before. So I applied for his Canadian Citizenship Certificate — which took approximately 5 months to process and receive.
Here’s what the process of applying for a Canadian Citizenship Certificate was like for us.
Passport Canada kept the application file open — as long as I communicated with them every 30 days to give them a status update on his citizenship status. Once I received his certificate, then I could finally complete his Canadian passport application.
So now, the next step is to apply for an infant Canadian passport.
How To Apply For A Canadian Passport For A Child
Here is how to apply for a Canadian passport for a child while living in the USA:
#1 – Complete the Child General Canadian Passport Application Form for children under age 16.
The Canadian Passport Application Form is an editable pdf — so it’s easy to complete the form on your computer and then print. (Or you can print it out and fill it in by hand, if you wish.)
Make sure to have each legal parent or guardian sign the application form and all of its pages.
TIP: Passport Canada may contact the other parent/legal guardian — so make sure the contact info is correct.
#2 – Have your child’s passport photo taken.
Canadian passport photo requirements are different than the U.S. requirements.
I tried at least a dozen times at various locations (such as Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens) to get a suitable picture which wouldn’t be rejected.
Our first photo was rejected due to small shadow behind the ear — seen here:
A rejected photo causes delays in the application — not to mention courier costs to send documents back and forth.
TIP: Take the time to get the photo as close to perfect as possible to avoid delays with the application and to avoid having to go back to the photo stores repeatedly to try get a better shot!
After a dozen failed attempts (due to multiple factors: bad lighting, shadows, uncooperative baby, etc), I ended up taking my child’s passport photo myself in front of a Walgreens passport photo screen after asking their permission.
I took the photo with my iPhone camera while my friend carried my son on his shoulders and another friend tried to get my son to look at the camera.
Walgreens has preloaded size formats per each country’s passport photo requirements. With the help of the photo associate, we downloaded the picture off my phone into the template and then printed out 2 identical passport photos.
Don’t forget to ask for the store stamp with the name and address of the store — because the store info and date the photos were taken must be written on the back of one of the photos. (I also included my receipt to support the handwritten info.)
One of the photos needs to be signed by your guarantor, as well. Your guarantor needs to clearly write: “I certify this to be a true likeness of [applicant’s name]” and then sign their name and surname on the back of the passport photo.
See the full list of Canadian passport photo requirements.
#3 – Find a guarantor who has known you (the parent or legal guardian) personally for at least 2 years and has knowledge of the child.
Not only will your guarantor sign the passport photo, but they will also need to sign your child’s Canadian Passport Application Form.
NOTE: Your guarantor must provide a street address or land location on the application — because a P.O. box is not an acceptable address.
#4 – Gather all of the documents to support your child’s Canadian Passport Application Form.
You will also need proof of your child’s Canadian citizenship — which can be a long-form Canadian birth certificate or Canadian Citizenship Certificate. (You must send the original document.)
#5 – Submit your application by mail and pay the $100 CDN fee.
There is a place to write your credit card information on the application form. Or you can pay by certified check or money order payable to the “Receiver General of Canada”.
Be sure to use a certified courier or traceable mail service — to help protect your original documents.
NOTE: Government of Canada consular offices in the United States do not provide passport services — so you must apply by mail, if you’re not heading to Canada to apply in person.
Here is the address when applying via mail:
Government of Canada
Gatineau QC K1A 0G3
Here is the address if you are using a courier:
Government of Canada
22 de Varennes Street
Gatineau QC J8T 8R1
Good To Know…
Your child’s Canadian passport and any original documentation will be returned to you — via courier service — to your address in the United States. (Items might arrive in 2 separate packages.)
We are still waiting on my son’s Canadian passport, but I just got word from Passport Canada that it is on its way!
I can’t wait to see it because the new Canadian passport (since 2015) appears like a normal passport in normal light — but when you hold it under a black light, the pages come alive with fluorescent colours creating a spectacle of maple leaves, stars, fireworks, early explorers, and many other elements that illustrate Canada’s rich history.
Normally, Canadian passport applications are processed within 20 business days — barring any delays. As I mentioned, we had delays with documentation and photos. Plus, my guarantor lives in Canada. In our case, each delay involved an extra courier destination.
A child’s Canadian passport is good for 5 years.
Here’s what it was like the first time my son and I flew from the U.S. to Canada together — he was 14 months old at the time.
Benefits Of Dual Citizenship In The U.S. And Canada
I have finally completed all of my son’s Dual Citizenship documents — which took me approximately 18 months to acquire.
Having both passports will make any trip to Canada hasslefree, as he can enter Canada as a Canadian citizen and then return back to the United States as an American citizen.
Here are some of the benefits my son will enjoy as a dual citizen:
- Freedom to travel to or reside in either country for as long as he chooses.
- Canadian citizenship entitles him to travel to all the Commonwealth countries without any tourist visas — which is basically over half of the world!
- Hassle free re-entry into either country using the appropriate passport. He is basically guaranteed the right to enter both countries.
- If he happens to get into any trouble while traveling abroad, his Canadian passport can get him assistance from other Commonwealth embassies/consulates (if Canada doesn’t have an embassy in the specific country).
- Benefits and privileges of each country — such as the right to vote and/or run for office, plus access to 2 social services systems.
- He can work or attend school in either country without any special visas.
- He can eventually acquire and own property in both countries, should he choose.
I can only hope my son will be proud to be a citizen of 2 great nations — which could spark a desire to learn about all the wonderfully diverse cultures and countries of the world.
Until my son was born a few years ago, I was a diehard motorcycle enthusiast who traveled the globe. As a Marketing Specialist and Brand Ambassador for Harley-Davidson for over a decade, I lived and worked all over North America. Now, grounded as a first-time mom, I share my love for outdoor adventure with my son and extended family in the Smoky Mountains… and beyond. I hope you find my travel tips and recommendations helpful!