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.

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), which extends entitlement to Indian status, received royal assent on December 12, 2017, and came into force on December 22, 2017. To apply for Indian status under Bill S-3, visit Are you applying based on the 2017 changes to the Indian Act.

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Are you eligible to apply?

Registration for Indian status under the Indian Act in Canada 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 or your child may be eligible for Indian status if:

A child of a non-Indian parent and an Indian parent registered under subsection 6(2) cannot be registered for Indian status.

Once you are a registered (Status) Indian:

If both of your parents are affiliated with different bands, you may have a choice of band membership. Should INAC determine that 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. Contact INAC Public Enquiries for more information.

How do you apply?

Before submitting your application, make sure that you have:

You will need to provide information about yourself and your parents, including legal names, dates of birth, band names, registration numbers, contact information and adoption information (if relevant).

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

If you have no registered parents or grandparents, provide as much information as possible about your Indigenous ancestors. INAC will conduct research within the department to determine if you are eligible. Any information you provide will help speed up this research.

An original long-form birth certificate issued by the province or territory where you were born listing the names of your parents is mandatory. INAC will not accept copies. To obtain an original long-form birth certificate, please visit your province or territory of birth's Vital Statistics website. Original documents will be returned to you.

If your parents are from two different bands, please state your band preference during registration.

If you are applying as an adult, fill out and print the Application for Registration of an Adult under the Indian Act.

If you are applying as a parent or legal guardian of a child (15 or younger) or dependent adult, fill out and print the Application for Registration of a Child Under the Indian Act. A parent or the legal guardian is required to sign the application.

Follow the instructions for each section when filling out the application form, as incomplete applications will be returned without being processed.

To trace your genealogy, visit Ancestors Search.

What supporting documents do you need to submit with your application?

You must submit:

You may need to provide other documents if you:

To avoid processing delays, submit all supporting documents, including any required original documents, with your application. Original documents, with the exception of statutory declarations, will be mailed back to you.

If you receive a letter stating that you are a Status Indian but have not yet received your status card, INAC will issue a letter confirming that you are registered under the provisions of the Indian Act along with a Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document. This will confirm that you are registered as a Status Indian and are eligible for all benefits and services for Status Indians.

If you are not entitled to registration under the Indian Act, you will receive a letter explaining why. If you wish to protest, consult Has your application been denied.

You must fully complete the application and include all necessary documents, or you will be contacted for missing information. If you do not provide all the necessary information and documents, your application will be delayed or deemed incomplete and returned to you.

In complex cases, you may be asked to provide more information. INAC will contact you.

If you have any questions, contact INAC Public Enquiries.

Where do you apply?

If you are a Bill C-3 applicant, please visit Are you applying as a grandchild of a woman who lost her Indian status through marriage.

If you are not a Bill C-3 applicant and were born before 1985, mail the required documents to:

Office of the Indian Registrar
Terrasses de la Chaudiere
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4

If you are not a Bill C-3 applicant and were born after 1985, you may apply:

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 on the basis of their parents' respective entitlements to registration.

Your birth certificate listing your parents is the main document needed as evidence of your parentage.

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

If amending your birth certificate is not possible, the Registrar may accept other evidence, such as a statutory declaration signed by both of your biological parents affirming the identity of your unstated parent.

If a statutory declaration cannot be obtained from one or both biological parents (for example, because they are unavailable or deceased), you can provide statutory declarations from members of your unstated parent’s immediate family affirming their belief of your parentage.

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 three pieces of documentation:

  1. a completed Application for Registration of an Adopted Person under the Indian Act (email INAC Public Enquiries for the form)
  2. a copy of the adoption order
  3. a consent form signed by the adopted applicant or, in the case of a child (15 or younger) or dependent adult, by the adoptive parents so INAC can get information concerning biological ancestry from social services officials involved in the adoption placement

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

INAC recommends you provide a letter outlining any information on relatives in your biological family who have or had Indian status.

Non-Indian adoptees can acquire Indian status through legal or custom adoption in the following process:

  1. Applicants who were adopted as minor children by Indian parents can be registered or deemed entitled to registration under section 6 of the Indian Act.
  2. Adopted applicants are given a registration number with the adoptive parents’ family affiliation under their adoptive name.
  3. An entry will appear on a change report in the Indian Register since there is an increase to the band or group population.

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

An Indian custom adoption is done in accordance with the band's customs, with no legal documents. An Indian custom adoption, however, includes an extensive list of documents from the applicants to confirm that the Indian custom adoption occurred.

For consent and application forms, contact INAC Public Enquiries 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 officials 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.

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

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

How long before you receive non-insured health benefits?

Non-insured health benefits 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 your registration number at the same time as your Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document. This confirms that you are registered as a Status Indian and are eligible for all benefits and services for Status Indians.

Your registration number also appears on the front of your status card.

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

Due to security concerns, INAC is unable to provide your registration number over the phone.

Can you protest the Indian Registrar's decision?

It is possible to protest the Indian Registrar’s decision on your application. Consult Has your application been denied to find out more.

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