About Indian status

Find out more about entitlement, benefits and registration under the Indian Act and the Indian Register.

Use of the term "Indian"

Many Indigenous people in Canada prefer not to describe themselves as "Indians" and view this term as rooted in colonialism and racism. Under the Indian Act, the precise legal meaning of the term "Indian" refers to First Nations persons who are entitled to registration.

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What is Indian status

Indian status is the legal standing of a person who is registered under the Indian Act.

Registration under the Indian Act is not the same as applying for a status card.

You need to be registered before you receive a status card, but you can apply for both at the same time. Once you are registered, you will receive your status card within 8-12 weeks.

This infographic helps explain the differences.

As a registered person, you have certain benefits and rights and are eligible for a range of federal and provincial or territorial programs and services. You may also be eligible for other programs and services offered by non-government providers.

To find out if you are entitled to register and would like to apply, visit How to apply for Indian status. You may want to research your genealogy and family history to provide additional documents in support of your application.

If the Registrar confirms your entitlement to registration, your name will be added to the Indian Register.

Registration and First Nation membership or citizenship

To be registered under the Indian Act isn't the same as being a First Nation member or citizen.

If your First Nation's membership list is maintained at Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), your name will automatically be added to the First Nation membership list that your parents are affiliated with once you are registered.

If your First Nation controls its own membership or citizenship, you must apply directly to the First Nation to become a member or citizen.

To find out more about First Nation membership or citizenship, visit About First Nation membership or citizenship.

Benefits, rights, programs and services

Registered persons have certain benefits, rights, programs and services, for example:

To find out more about what is available to you as a registered person, visit Indigenous peoples.

What is the Indian Register

The Indian Register, maintained at ISC, is the official record of persons registered under section 6 of the Indian Act.

If Métis or Inuit

There is no register at ISC for Métis or Inuit.

If you self-identify as Métis, you may want to register with your local Métis organization. 

If you are Inuit, you may already be a member of a land claim agreement.

Who is the Registrar

The Registrar is the official officer in charge of the Indian Register and First Nation membership lists maintained at ISC.

The Registrar is the only person who has the authority to make changes to the Register and First Nations membership lists maintained at ISC, including:

What are the key changes to the Indian Act relating to registration

With the full enactment of Bill S-3 on August 15, 2019, all known sex-based inequities have been eliminated from the Indian Act.

To find out more about the key changes to the Indian Act, visit Bill S-3: Eliminating known sex-based inequities in registration.

How to prove you're registered

You can use any one of these documents as proof of registration:

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