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Citizenship and Assisted Human Reproduction - The Modernization of the Definition of a "Parent"

As of July 9th, 2020, Canadian parents can pass on citizenship to their children born abroad even if they are not biologically related to them.

Previously under the Citizenship Act, Canadian citizenship could only be passed on by a Canadian parent to their child if they were the biological parent of the child (known as citizenship by descent). This narrow definition of “parent” had a discriminatory impact on LGBTQ+ parents and parents experiencing fertility issues who used assisted human reproduction – donated tissue and/or surrogacy - to conceive a child.

This led to several cases where a child was denied Canadian citizenship even though one or both of their Canadian parents was legally recognized as their parent on the child’s birth certificate. A challenge was brought to this law at the Quebec Superior Court in July 2020 by a same-sex couple whose child was denied Canadian citizenship because the Canadian mother was not the biological mother of the child. As a result of their efforts, the definition of “parent” has been expanded to include parents who are recognized as the child’s legal parent at birth.

When does this come into force?

This change came into force on July 9, 2020.

What does this mean for me?

This means that non-biological children born abroad to a Canadian parent are now eligible for Canadian Citizenship. You can now apply for a citizenship certificate.

Note that this change does not apply to adopted children who have been born outside of Canada. An application for citizenship still needs to be made for adopted children.

What documents do I need?

The child’s original birth certificate or birth record that says that the Canadian parent is a legal parent of the child at the time of birth.

Helpful Resources

If you would like to find out more information about the process and how this may apply to you and your family, feel free to contact our office and book a consultation with an immigration and refugee lawyer. Emails can be sent to, or call 416-203-2899 ext. 30.


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