Are you applying for Indian status?

Find out if you are eligible and how to apply for Indian status as defined in the Indian Act.

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Are you eligible to apply?

In general

Eligibility for Indian status under the Indian Act is based on the degree of descent from ancestors who were registered or were entitled to be registered.

To find out if you are eligible, ask yourself:

  • Do either or both of my parents have status?
  • Do any of my grandparents have status?
  • Is anyone in my immediate family (uncles, aunts, cousins) registered or entitled to be registered?

In general, you may be eligible for Indian status if:

or

  • both of your parents are registered under subsection 6(2) of the Indian Act

Once you are registered for Indian status:

  • if your First Nation determines its own band membership, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) will direct you to the band you are affiliated with to apply for membership
  • if your First Nation does not determine its own band membership, you automatically become a member of your First Nation's band

If both of your parents are affiliated with different bands, you may have a choice of band membership. If you have a band choice, you will be advised of the bands and if the bands determine their own membership. You may also be required to submit a band choice statement. For more information, contact Public Enquiries.

In 2011 (Bill C-3) and 2017 (Bill S-3), changes were made to the Indian Act that extended entitlement to registration.

As a grandchild of a woman who lost her Indian status through marriage (Bill C-3 applicant)

The Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act (Bill C-3) came into force on January 31, 2011. The act addresses gender equity in the Indian Act and entitles the grandchildren of a woman who lost her Indian status through marriage to register.

You may be eligible for Indian status as a Bill C-3 applicant if:

  • your grandmother lost her Indian status through marriage to a non-Indian man

and

and

  • you or one of your siblings was born on or after September 4, 1951

If you applied for Indian status before the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act was passed and your application was refused, you need to re-apply.

Based on the 2017 changes to the Indian Act (Bill S-3 applicant)

An Act to amend the Indian Act in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général) (Bill S-3) came into force on December 22, 2017. The act addresses known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act and entitles persons who were affected by those inequities to register.

You may be eligible for Indian status as a Bill S-3 applicant if:

  • your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother lost her Indian status through marriage to a non-Indian man before April 17, 1985

or

  • your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother was born out of wedlock of an Indian father and a non-Indian mother between September 4, 1951, and April 16, 1985

or

  • your parent, grandparent or great-grandparent lost their Indian status as the result of their mother's marriage to a non-Indian man between September 4, 1951, and April 16, 1985

or

  • your parent, grandparent or great-grandparent lost their Indian status as the result of a successful protest based on their non-Indian parentage between September 4, 1951, and April 16, 1985

If you have been impacted by known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act, you may now be entitled to amend your registration category from subsection 6(2) to subsection 6(1). By amending your registration category, you may be able to extend Indian status to your descendants.

Eligibility for Indian status under Bill S-3 is based on date of birth and life events (marriage, divorce).

To request a category amendment, submit a photocopy of acceptable valid identification as well as a signed and dated written request with your name, registration number and mailing address:

  • at any INAC regional office
  • at any First Nation or band office (if applicable)
  • by mail to this address:

    Application Processing Unit
    Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
    Box 6700
    Winnipeg MB  R3C 5R5

If you have any questions, please contact us:

If you applied for Indian status before Bill S-3 was passed into law and your application was refused, you need to re-apply.

If you applied for Indian status before Bill S-3 was passed into law and your application is waiting to be processed, it will automatically be processed based on the 2017 Bill S-3 changes to the Indian Act. You don't need to re-apply.

What do you need to submit or send with the application?

You must find a guarantor if you are:

  • applying by mail

or

  • providing identification that is not considered acceptable valid identification, that is, identification that doesn't meet all of the requirements (name, date of birth, photo and signature)

or

  • submitting an application in person on behalf of an adult or on behalf of a parent or legal guardian applying for a child or dependent adult

To find out more, visit About guarantors.

For an adult (16 or older)

If applying in person, you must provide:

  1. an original birth certificate listing your parents' names (to obtain an original birth certificate with parental information, visit the Vital Statistics website of the province or territory where you were born)
  2. original acceptable valid identification

If the form you need does not download, get help on accessing PDF forms.

If applying by mail, you must provide:

  1. an original birth certificate listing your parents' names (to obtain an original birth certificate with parental information, visit the Vital Statistics website of the province or territory where you were born)
  2. photocopies of the front and back of original acceptable valid identification, each photocopy signed by a guarantor
  3. a guarantor declaration (PDF print only, 137 Kb, 2 pages; PDF fillable/saveable, 92 Kb, 2 pages)

If your name as it appears on the application form is different from your name on any of the other required documents, you must also provide:

  • an original legal name-linking document that links your previous name with your current name, for example, a change-of-name certificate, a marriage certificate or a divorce order

or

  • a photocopy of a legal name-linking document and acceptable valid identification with your name as it appears on the application form, for example, your driver's licence

If also applying for a Secure Certificate of Indian Status, you must provide:

For a child (15 or younger) or dependent adult

A parent or legal guardian must have the authority to act for the child or dependent adult in legal and financial matters to apply on their behalf.

If applying in person, you must provide:

  1. an original birth certificate listing the child or dependent adult's parents' names (to obtain an original birth certificate, visit the Vital Statistics website of the province or territory where the child or dependent adult was born)
  2. original acceptable valid identification of the applying parent or legal guardian

If the form you need does not download, get help on accessing PDF forms.

If applying by mail, you must provide:

  1. an original birth certificate listing the child or dependent adult's parents' names (to obtain an original birth certificate with parental information, visit the Vital Statistics website of the province or territory where the child or dependent adult was born)
  2. photocopies of the front and back of original acceptable valid identification of the applying parent or legal guardian, each photocopy signed by a guarantor
  3. a guarantor declaration (PDF print only, 137 Kb, 2 pages; PDF fillable/saveable, 92 Kb, 2 pages)

If the application is for a child, all parents listed on the birth certificate with parental information must sign the application form. If there are legal documents granting custody or guardianship of the child to the applying parent or legal guardian, you must provide them. Also, all custodial parents or legal guardians listed on the legal documents must sign the application form.

If the application is for a dependent adult, you must provide the order of guardianship. Also, all legal guardians listed on the order of guardianship must sign the application form.

If the child or dependent adult is to be registered under a name other than the name of the child or dependent adult as it appears on the birth certificate or legal documents, you must also provide:

  • an original legal name-linking document, such as a change-of-name certificate, that links the previous name of the child or dependent adult with their current name

or

  • a photocopy of a legal name-linking document and acceptable valid identification that has the name of the child or dependent adult as it appears on the application form, for example, their health card

If the name of the parent or legal guardian as it appears on the application form is different from their name on any of the other required documents, you must also provide:

  • a photocopy of a legal name-linking document that links the previous name of the parent or legal guardian with their current name, for example, a change-of-name certificate, marriage certificate or divorce order

If you are also applying for a Secure Certificate of Indian Status, you must provide:

  • 2 identical Canadian passport-style photos of the child or dependent adult that meet the photo requirements

How do you apply?

Step 1: Get the application form

If applying for an adult 16 or older, get the Application for Registration on the Indian Register and for the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) (for adults 16 years of age or older) form:

If applying for a child 15 or younger or dependent adult, get the Application for Registration on the Indian Register and for the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) (for children 15 years of age or younger or dependent adults) form:

Step 2: Find a guarantor

To find out if you need a guarantor and who can act as a guarantor, visit About guarantors.

Step 3: Fill out the application form

Fill out the fillable-saveable form online or the printable form in block letters using black or blue ink.

Detailed instructions on filling out the application form are available online:

You will need to provide information about yourself or the child or dependent adult and your or their parents or grandparents, including:

  • legal name
  • date of birth
  • First Nation or band name
  • registration number
  • contact information
  • adoption information (if applicable)

Indicate which First Nation or band you or the child or dependent adult and your or their parents, grandparents or ancestors are affiliated with; if your or their parents are from 2 different bands, state a band preference.

To help establish entitlement to registration, it is also helpful to provide:

  • the names of any relatives (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins) who are or were registered under the Indian Act and any information that may help to identify them in INAC's records
  • information about ancestors, such as their band numbers and the names of any of their family members who are or were registered, and any other information that may help to identify them in INAC's records with evidence that links them to you or the child or dependent adult

If you or the child or dependent adult have no registered parents or grandparents, provide as much information as possible about your or the child or dependent adult's Indigenous ancestors. INAC will conduct research within its records to determine entitlement to registration. Any information provided will help speed up this research. In complex cases, you may be asked to provide more information. INAC will contact you.

To trace family genealogy, visit Ancestors Search.

Indicate if you wish to receive a Secure Certificate of Indian Status (secure status card). If you do not submit the photos with the application, your name or that of the child or dependent adult will be added on the Indian Register if entitled to registration, but a secure status card will not be issued.

You can always apply for a status card later.

Step 4: Sign and date the application form

Before submitting or sending the application, make sure you have:

  1. filled out all relevant sections of the form, including the checklist of documents required
  2. signed and dated the form

If the application is for a child or dependent adult, a parent or a legal guardian must sign the application form.

The Indian Registrar will acknowledge receipt of the application by mail. Keep the letter for your records as it provides the file number for the application.

You must complete all relevant sections of the application form, including the checklist of documents required, and provide all required documents. If you do not provide all the necessary information and required documents, your application will be delayed or determined incomplete and returned to you.

Original documents, with the exception of statutory and guarantor declarations, included with the application will be returned to you by mail.

Please notify the Indian Registrar of any change of address by contacting Public Enquiries.

Where do you apply?

If you are a general applicant, you may apply:

If you are a Bill C-3 or Bill S-3 applicant, you may apply:

How will the original documents be returned?

Original documents included with the application, with the exception of statutory and guarantor declarations, will be returned to you by mail.

INAC makes every possible effort to return original documents within one month after receiving an application.

Please notify the Indian Registrar of any change of address by contacting Public Enquiries.

Are you applying with only one parent listed on your birth certificate?

The 1985 amendments to the Indian Act state that a person's entitlement to registration is determined based on their parents' respective entitlements to registration.

A birth certificate listing the names of the parents is the main document needed as evidence of parentage.

If one of the biological parents is not listed on the birth certificate but is or was registered or entitled to be registered, the Indian Registrar may request that you have the birth certificate revised so that the names of both parents are listed.

If amending the birth certificate is not possible, the Indian Registrar may accept other evidence, such as a statutory declaration signed by one or both biological parents, by one of the members of the unknown or unstated parent's immediate family, or by close relatives or Elders affirming the identity of the unstated parent.

If a statutory declaration cannot be obtained, you can provide any relevant document to establish Indian parentage. Find out more about how the unknown or unstated parentage issue in Indian registration is being addressed.

In response to the Gehl decision, Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général) was amended to include a new provision in the Indian Act to address the issue of unknown or unstated parentage. The new provision allows for various forms of evidence to be presented in cases of serious difficulties in proving Indian parentage when applying for registration.

How to apply if you are adopted?

You will need to provide:

  1. an Application for Registration on the Indian Register and for the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) (for adults or for children and dependent adults, depending on the case) duly completed
  2. an original post-adoption birth certificate listing the adoptive parents' names
  3. a photocopy of the adoption order or a photocopy of the letter from the social services authorities confirming the details of the adoption
  4. a consent form signed and dated by the adopted applicant or, in the case of a child or dependent adult, by the adoptive parent or legal guardian, so the Indian Registrar can get information concerning biological ancestry from social services authorities involved in the adoption

You can also provide a copy of the pre-adoption birth certificate listing the birth parents' names, if available.

If adopted in British Columbia, you will need to fill out a consent form specific to that province.

If possible, provide a letter outlining any information on members of the biological family who have or had Indian status.

Applicants who were adopted as minor children by Indian parents through legal or custom adoption can register for Indian status.

A legal adoption is handled through the court and includes legal documents and an adoption order.

A custom adoption is done in accordance with the band's customs. Applicants are required to submit an extensive list of documents to confirm that the adoption occurred.

For more information and consent forms:

  • call 1-800-567-9604

or

  • write to:

    Adoption Unit
    Office of the Indian Registrar
    Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
    10 rue Wellington
    Gatineau QC  K1A 0H4

Any information provided to the Indian Registrar by social services authorities is received in confidence and exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the Privacy Act. The Indian Registrar is prevented from releasing any identifying information concerning biological parents or ancestors.

How long does the process take?

If the application is complete and you or the child or dependent adult on whose behalf you have applied is entitled to be registered, you will receive a letter with a 10-digit registration number and a Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document within 6 to 8 months. This will confirm that you, or the person on whose behalf you have applied, are registered for Indian status and are eligible for benefits and rights under the Indian Act.

In complex cases, you may be asked to provide more information. INAC will contact you. Processing time for a complex case can take up to 2 years.

If you have also applied for a Secure Certificate of Indian Status and have provided what is required, you should receive a secure status card within 16 weeks of receiving the letter.

Please notify the Indian Registrar of any change of address by contacting Public Enquiries.

When do you become eligible for non-insured health services benefits?

Benefits for non-insured health services are normally available as soon as you are registered under the Indian Act. There is no retroactive entitlement to benefits.

What is your 10-digit registration number?

You receive a 10-digit registration number at the same time as the Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document.

This 10-digit registration number also appears on the front of the secure status card.

If you lose your registration number, you can get it again:

or

Can you protest the Indian Registrar's decision?

If the Indian Registrar determines you are not entitled to be registered, you will receive a letter explaining why. If you do not agree with the Indian Registrar's decision on your application and wish to protest, visit Has your application been denied.

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