How to apply for Indian status

Find out if you're entitled to be registered under the Indian Act and how to apply.

Update on eliminating known sex-based inequities

To find out what the Government of Canada is doing to connect with persons newly entitled to registration because of the removal of sex-based inequities, visit Implementation of Bill S-3: Engaging on changes to registration.

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Are you entitled to be registered under the Indian Act

Entitlement to registration under the Indian Act is based on the degree of descent from ancestors who are registered or entitled to be registered.

To find out if you're entitled to be registered, ask yourself:

  • Are either or both of my parents registered or entitled to be registered?
  • Are any of my grandparents registered or entitled to be registered?
  • Is anyone in my immediate or extended family registered or entitled to be registered?

You may be entitled to be registered if:

or

Have known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act affected your entitlement to registration

Your or your ancestors' date of birth and life events, such as marriages and divorces, may have affected your entitlement to registration.

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

If your entitlement to registration has been affected by known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act, you may now have the right to be registered if:

or

or

or

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 Bill S-3 was tabled.

To find out more, visit:

or call:

Enfranchisement of unmarried women

On July 31, 2020, the Quebec Superior Court issued its decision in the case of Hele c. Attorney General of Canada (Hele decision), ruling that unmarried women could not be enfranchised under the 1951 Indian Act.

If you, your mother or grandmother were unmarried and enfranchised by application as an adult between September 4, 1951, and April 17, 1985, you may be affected by that decision.

To find out more about enfranchisement and the steps the Government of Canada is taking to address the Quebec Superior Court's decision, visit Addressing enfranchisement of unmarried women in registration.

If you applied for registration before the Indian Act was amended

If you applied for registration 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 reapply.

If you applied for registration before the Indian Act was amended and your application was denied, you need to reapply.

If you have questions about your application for registration, contact Public enquiries.

Amending your registration category

If known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act have affected your entitlement to registration, your registration category may be amended.

To request a category amendment, you must submit a copy 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

How do you apply for registration

Step 1: Get the application form

Step 2: Find a guarantor, if necessary

You must find a guarantor if:

Find out who can act as a guarantor.

Step 3: Fill out the application

Detailed instructions on filling out the application for adults (16 or older) and for children (15 or younger) or dependent adults are available online.

You must provide information about yourself, or the child or dependent adult, and ancestors, such as parents or grandparents, including :

  • legal name
  • date of birth
  • First Nation name
  • registration number, if applicable
  • contact information
  • adoption information, if applicable

If your parents are entitled to membership or citizenship with different First Nations, you may have a choice of First Nation affiliation. You may choose which First Nation on the application form or submit a separate First Nation choice statement.

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

To help determine entitlement to registration, it's also helpful to provide:

  • the names of any relatives, such as brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins, who are registered or entitled to be registered
  • any relevant information that may help identify them in records at Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and link them to you, the child or dependent adult

If your or the child or dependent adult's parents or grandparents aren't registered, provide as much information as possible about your First Nation ancestors or those of the child or dependent adult. ISC will research its records to determine entitlement to registration. Any relevant information provided will help speed up that research. In complex cases, ISC may contact you for more information.

To research family genealogy, visit First Nations genealogy.

Indicate if you wish to receive a Secure Certificate of Indian Status, or secure status card, when filling out the application.

If you don't submit photos with the application, you or the child or dependent adult will be registered if entitled, but a secure status card won't be issued. You can always apply for a status card later.

Step 4: Sign and date the application

Before submitting the application, make sure you've:

  • filled out all relevant sections, including the checklist
  • signed and dated the form
  • included all necessary documents
  • included photos if also applying for a secure status card
  • included a guarantor declaration, if necessary

If the application is for a child or dependent adult, all parents listed on the proof of birth document, or all custodial parents or legal guardians listed on the legal documents, must sign the form.

Step 5: Submit the application

To avoid delays in processing the application, you must submit all necessary documents, including the checklist, with the complete application form.

What do you need to submit with the application for registration

For an adult (16 or older)

You must submit:

  1. a complete application for registration for adults (16 or older)
  2. an original proof of birth document with parental information
    • to get an original proof of birth document, visit the Vital Statistics website from the province or territory where you were born
  3. original valid acceptable identification or a copy of the front and of the back of the identification, each copy signed and dated by a guarantor
  4. a guarantor declaration, if necessary
  5. if also applying for a secure status card, a digital photo using the SCIS Photo App or 2 printed photos that meet the photo requirements

If the name on the application form is different from the name on any of the other necessary documents, you must also submit:

  • an original legal name-linking document, such as a change of name certificate, a marriage certificate or a divorce order, that links the previous name with the current name

or

For a child (15 or younger) or dependent adult

If applying for a child (15 or younger) or dependent adult

The applying parent, custodial parent or legal guardian must have the authority to act for the child or dependent adult in legal and financial matters.

You must submit:

  1. a complete application for registration for children (15 or younger) or dependent adults
  2. an original proof of birth document with parental information
    • to get an original proof of birth document, visit the Vital Statistics website from the province or territory where the child or dependent adult was born
  3. original valid acceptable identification of the applying parent, custodial parent or legal guardian or a copy of the front and of the back of the identification, each copy signed and dated by a guarantor
  4. for a child (15 or younger), any legal documents granting custody or guardianship of the child to the applying parent or legal guardian, if applicable
    for a dependent adult, the guardianship order
  5. a guarantor declaration, if necessary
  6. if also applying for a secure status card, a digital photo using the SCIS Photo App or 2 printed photos that meet the photo requirements

If the child or dependent adult's name on the application form is different from the name on the proof of birth document or legal documents, you must also submit:

  • an original legal name-linking document, such as a change of name certificate, that links the previous name with the current name

or

If the name of the applying parent, custodial parent or legal guardian is different from the name on any of the other necessary documents, you must also submit:

  • a copy of a legal name-linking document, such as a change of name certificate, marriage certificate or divorce order, that links the previous name with the current name

Are you entitled to be registered 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.

If one of the biological parents isn't listed on the proof of birth document but is registered or entitled to be registered, you can submit:

or

or

or

If you can't submit any of those documents, you may submit:

Response to the Gehl decision

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

What other documents do you need to submit if you're adopted

Applicants who were adopted as minors by registered or entitled to be registered parents through a legal or custom adoption may be entitled to be registered.

A legal adoption is handled by the court and includes legal documents and an adoption order. If you or the child or dependent adult have or has been legally adopted, you must submit a complete application for registration and:

  1. a copy of the adoption order or a copy of a letter from the social services authorities confirming the details of the adoption
  2. a consent form signed and dated by the adopted applicant or, in the case of a child or dependent adult, by the adoptive parents or legal guardians, so ISC can get information about biological ancestry from social services authorities involved in the adoption

You can also submit a copy of the pre-adoption birth certificate listing the biological parents' names, if available.

A custom adoption is carried out following the First Nation's practices. Applicants need to submit additional documents to confirm the custom adoption.

To find out what documents you need to submit if you or the child or dependent adult were or was adopted through a custom adoption, contact ISC.

Contact ISC if adopted

To find out more about what other documents you need to submit if you're adopted and to get a consent form:

or

  • write to
    • Adoption Unit
      Indigenous Services Canada
      10 rue Wellington
      Gatineau QC K1A 0H4

Any information provided to ISC by social services authorities is received in confidence and exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the Privacy Act. ISC doesn't release any identifying information about biological parents or ancestors.

Can you apply for someone else

A third-party application is an application submitted in person by someone other than the applicant. For a child or dependent adult, a third person is any person other than the parent, custodial parent or legal guardian.

When submitting a third-party application, you must submit:

  1. a complete application for registration, signed by the applicant
  2. a copy of the front and of the back of valid acceptable identification of the applicant, each copy signed and dated by a guarantor
  3. a guarantor declaration confirming the identity of the applicant
  4. a signed statement from the applicant providing consent to submit the application through the third party
  5. original valid acceptable identification of the third party
  6. if also applying for a secure status card, a digital photo of the applicant using the SCIS Photo App or 2 printed photos that meet the photo requirements

Where can you submit the application

You can submit the application, including the checklist and all necessary documents:

or

If you've been affected by known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act, you can submit the application, including the checklist and all necessary documents:

or

Before you go to any regional office or First Nation office

Call ahead to:

  • find out if the office near you is open
  • make an appointment
  • confirm what documents you need to bring
  • find out what safety measures are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

How are original documents returned

Original documents submitted, except for guarantor and statutory declarations, will be mailed to you within 1 month after receiving the application.

Change of address

Inform ISC of any change of address by contacting Public enquiries.

How long does it take to be registered

If you or the child or dependent adult are or is entitled to be registered, you'll receive a letter confirming registration in 6 to 8 months.

In complex cases

ISC may contact you for more information. Processing time for a complex case can take up to 2 years.

If you've also applied for a secure status card, you should receive it 8 to 12 weeks after receiving the letter of confirmation.

What is the 10-digit registration number

The 10-digit registration number is a unique number used to confirm registration. The first 3 digits of the number identify the First Nation you are affiliated with:

The 10-digit registration number on the letter of confirmation is also on the front of the status card.

If you need to confirm your registration number, you can get it from:

You may be asked for a piece of valid acceptable identification or to answer questions to verify your identity.

When do you become eligible for the Non-Insured Health Benefits program

The letter of confirmation establishing that you or the child or dependent adult are or is registered also confirms eligibility for certain benefits and rights.

Benefits for non-insured health services are available on registration. Services received before can't be reimbursed.

Children less than 18 months whose parent is registered are eligible for the Non-Insured Health Benefits program.

Can you protest the Registrar's decision

If the Registrar determines that you or the child or dependent adult aren't or isn't entitled to be registered, you'll receive a letter explaining why.

If you disagree with the Registrar's decision and wish to protest, visit If you disagree with the Registrar's decision.

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