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Born Abroad

Fri, Jun 3rd, 2005
Submitted by: Kim Friesen


According to Social Development Canada (SDC, formerly HRDC) website which was updated April 1, 2005, SDC, has once again ruled to accept the Certificate of Birth Abroad as proof of Canadian Citizenship within their department.

Note that the acceptance of the Certificate of Birth Abroad is listed under the heading “Canadian Citizen Born in Canada”. Hope this helps everyone that has been affected by this. - Updated April 7, 2005

In January 2005 Kim Friesen tried to change the surname on her SIN card to that of her husbands. One of the requirements to do this is to present birth documents verifying Canadian citizenship. Kim was born in Germany while her father was serving a term with the Canadian Military and has the following two documents:

  1. Certificate of Birth Abroad, and
  2. National Defense Certificate of Birth

She was informed that neither of these 2 documents is recognized by HRDC Canada and that she had to apply for a Canadian Citizenship Card. She looked into obtaining a Canadian Citizenship Card and was amazed that the Certificate of Birth Abroad form is a requirement to obtain a Citizenship Card. Kim contacted Citizenship and Immigration Canada and was told it will take up to eight months to process a request for a Citizenship Card. Kim is outraged and wonders how many children of Canadian Military personnel are out there with these documents and do not realize that they may run into roadblocks when dealing with some Federal Government departments.

  • If the Government is going to make changes that affect so many Canadians, why were we not informed?
  • Why weren't new documents issued to replace the ones they decided to no longer accept?
  • Why were we not given direction as to what steps we could take to ensure we had documents that the Canadian government would recognize?

What is more outstanding is that a requirement to obtain a Canadian Citizenship Card is none other than the Certificate of Birth Abroad.


Do you have the following documents:

  • Certificate of Birth Abroad
  • National Defense Certificate of Birth

Did you know:

  • that some Canadian federal government departments (HRDC) no longer recognize or accept the above documents as valid proof of Canadian Citizenship?
  • that you may have to apply for a Canadian Citizenship Card in order to obtain CPP, EI or other social benefits?
  • if you get married and wish to change your surname on your SIN card, you will be told you need a Canadian Citizenship Card before any change to your name can be made on your SIN card?
  • That to obtain a Canadian Citizenship Certificate costs $75 plus the cost of 2 photos, certified true copies of your drivers license, provincial health card, marriage certificate and your original Certificate of Birth Abroad (which is not returned to you). And that it takes up to EIGHT months to process your request for a Citizenship card?

    Hats off to CKY Winnipeg for airing a brief story on this on Sunday February 13, 2005. In the story, a representative of the new Social Development Canada indicated that this issue is a result of 9/11 and increased security measures and that these documents do not contain security features of the new cards. They are hoping to have this situation remedied by this Spring (2005). They DID NOT say that they are working to accept these documents as valid. It was also indicated that those of us affected by this issue hold off on applying for a Citizenship Card until this is remedied. For those who have already gone through or are going through the process of applying for a citizenship card, the government has not said whether or not it will refund the costs.

There are many questions that can be raised on this issue. Here are just a few:

  1. Our current documents were issued by the Government of Canada. What is stopping the government from revoking any new citizenship cards in the future under the premise that they too no longer contain up-to-date security features?
  2. If HRDC decided not to accept our current documents because they are old and don't have 'new security features', why aren't provincial birth certificates revoked for the same reason?
  3. If the change in the status of our documents was made for the sake of "national security", why are these documents still recognized by other federal departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs? Don't they play a role in Canadian security by controlling who can possess a valid Canadian passport?
  4. Since the change was made in 2002, the Government has not issued a single News or Press Release to advise any of us of the change in validity of these documents. What were they going to do, bury their heads in the sand and allow us one by one to encounter frustration, the humiliation of being told we now need to apply for citizenship cards, force us to pay for new documents, and wait a lengthy eight months?
  5. Are they only saying that they are working to fix this to keep us quiet so that no new cases are brought forward in the press to cause our government embarrassment for having turned their backs on all the military families affected?

The questions are endless!

What You Can Do:

If you were born prior to 1977 and have these documents, it is important that you contact your local Member of Parliament's office and request that ALL federal departments of the Canadian government recognize and honour these documents as valid. To find out who your MP is, go to http://canada.gc.ca/directories/direct_e.htm.
Letters should also be sent to:
- The Honourable Joe Volpe, P.C., M.P., Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1L1, or e-mail minister@cic.gc.ca
- The Honourable Ken Dryden, Social Development Canada; 355 North River Road 20th Floor, Ottawa ON, K1A 0L1, or e-mail dryden.k@parl.gc.ca, or toll-free 1-866-756-9762.
- The Honourable Lucienne Robillard, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Place du Portage Phase IV, 14th floor - 140 Promenade du Portage Gatineau PQ K1A 0J9, e-mail robill@parl.gc.ca, or toll-free 1-800-366-3005.

- The Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of National Defence, National Defence Headquarters Major-General George R. Pearkes Building, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0K2, Phone: 613-996-3100 Facsimile: 613-995-8189

- Prime Minister Paul Martin (pm@pm.gc.ca).

- and, if you feel so inclined, the local press in your area.

Further informaton on this issue:

Forces' babies deprived Toronto Sun article by Peter Worthington
Gulf War Veteran deprived of Citizenship
News Children born abroad need citizenship card Lookout CFB Esquimalt Newspaper
Badenremembered bulletin board
Passports and proof of Canadian Citizenship, Passport Office
Obtaining a Citizenship card

How long are we going to "wait" for answers?

article submitted by Kim Friesen , updated 16 Feb 2005

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