Is your status card valid
Your registration under the Indian Act doesn't expire, but your status card needs to be renewed.
On this page
Why your status card expires
Similar to other federal, provincial and territorial identity documents, such as a passport, driver's license or health card, a status card needs to be renewed to reflect the cardholder's current appearance.
If your status card is past the renewal date, submit an application to renew it.
What makes a status card valid
A status card is valid if it is:
- not past the renewal date
- not suspended or revoked
- not reported lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed
- not found and returned to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)
Status cards that are being issued
The Secure Certificate of Indian Status (or secure status card) and the Certificate of Indian Status (or status card) are issued to confirm registration under the Indian Act.
Secure Certificate of Indian Status
The Secure Certificate of Indian Status issued centrally by ISC, has a number of security features:
- laser-engraved information burned directly into the card
- raised letters and numbers on the surface
- patterns of extremely fine lines not easily scanned or copied
- ultra-violet imaging and printing visible with special equipment
- secondary photo image of the cardholder visible from both sides of the card
- toll-free number to call to confirm card is valid
- machine-readable zone to facilitate Canada–U.S. border crossing
As of February 1, 2019, all new and renewed secure status cards are issued with a machine-readable zone on the back of the card.
The machine-readable zone contains only cardholder information that is already displayed on the front of the card.
Certificate of Indian Status
The Certificate of Indian Status, or status card, is still issued in some First Nation offices. This card has only a limited number of security features found on other government-issued identity documents.
The laminated status card with no renewal date is also still valid.
Older versions of the status card
All previously issued versions of both the secure status card and status card are valid until the renewal date on the card.
Some secure status cards in circulation may not have a machine-readable zone but remain valid until their renewal date.
If your status card is no longer valid, you may be denied benefits and rights for Indigenous peoples or have difficulty crossing the Canada–U.S. border.
History of the status card
In 1956, the Government of Canada began issuing the Certificate of Indian Status as an official identity document confirming the cardholder to be registered under the Indian Act.
The status card is either a laminated or a plastic card with fewer security features than now expected of a government-issued identity document.
In 2009, the more secure status card, the Secure Certificate of Indian Status, began to be issued to help protect registered persons from identity theft. Improved security features make it less vulnerable to tampering and counterfeiting.
Registered persons are encouraged to apply for a secure status card. To get a secure status card, visit How to apply for a status card.