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.

COVID-19-related updates

Visit service-hours update to find out if it is possible to apply for status in person.

Visit Coronavirus and Indigenous communities to find out how to apply for COVID-19-related benefits.

Recent changes

As of December 10, 2020, you can select a non-binary gender identifier on the application form when applying for Indian status or a status card: M (male), F (female) or X (another gender).

Update on eliminating sex-based inequities

As of August 15, 2019, Bill S-3 amendments addressed all known sex-based inequities in the registration provisions of the Indian Act. On December 11, 2020, the third and final report to Parliament on the review of the implementation of Bill S-3 was tabled. Visit Eliminating known sex-based inequities in Indian registration to learn how the Government of Canada is addressing sex-based inequities in registration.

On this page

Are you eligible to apply

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:

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

or

Once you are registered for Indian status:

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.

Have you been affected by known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act

Between 1985 and 2019, the Indian Act was amended to address sex-based inequities and comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

As of August 15, 2019, all of the amendments proposed under Bill S-3 came into force, and as such, all known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act have been addressed.

On December 11, 2020, the third and final report to Parliament on the review of the implementation of Bill S-3 was tabled.

Entitlement to registration may be affected by your or your ancestor's date of birth and life events, such as marriage and divorce.

If you have been affected by sex-based inequities in the Indian Act, you may now be entitled to registration if:

or

or

or

If you applied before the Indian Act was amended and your application is waiting to be processed, it will automatically be processed based on the amended Indian Act. You don't need to re-apply.

If you applied before the Indian Act was amended and your application was denied, you need to re-apply.

If you have been affected by known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act, it is possible that your registration category will be amended. To request a category amendment, you must submit a photocopy of valid acceptable identification as well as a signed and dated written request with your name, registration number and mailing address:

  • In-person at:
  • by mail to:

    Application Processing Unit
    Indigenous Services Canada
    Box 6700
    Winnipeg MB  R3C 5R5

For questions on amendments to the Indian Act, including on the removal of the 1951 cut-off date and on how to apply for Indian status, call 1‑844‑280‑5011.

If you have applied and have questions regarding your application, contact Public enquiries.

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

or

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 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 (form 83-169)

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 with parental information, 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 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 (form 83-169)

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), form 83-168:

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), form 83-171:

Step 2: Find a guarantor

Find out who can act as a guarantor, if you need one.

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 different bands, state a band preference.

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

  • the names of any relatives, for example, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, who are or were registered under the Indian Act and any information that may help to identify them in ISC'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 ISC'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. ISC 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. ISC 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.

ISC 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 entitled to registration through a parent not listed on your proof of birth document

A proof of birth document listing the names of the parents is the main document needed to support entitlement to registration under the Indian Act.

If one of the biological parents is not listed on the proof of birth document but is registered or entitled to be registered, you may submit, if available:

If you can't submit any of those documents, you may submit other relevant information, such as:

Response to the Gehl decision

In response to the Gehl decision, the Indian Act was amended to include a new provision that addresses situations of unknown or unstated parentage.

The provision now in force provides flexibility for an applicant to submit various forms of credible evidence from which the Indian Registrar is required to draw every reasonable inference in favour of the applicant in determining entitlement to registration in situations of unknown or unstated parentage.

How do you 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 Services 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. ISC 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 that 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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