Canada Passports (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian:Immigration Records  by Patricia McGregor, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Passports[edit | edit source]

Prior to 1862, Canadians, as British subjects, were able to travel to and from the United States without requiring passports. However, Canadians who wanted to travel to Europe had to get a British passport at the Foreign Office in London. Those who were not British subjects by birth could still go to the United States with a certificate of naturalization, which was issued by local Canadian mayors mainly for voting in municipal elections.

Requirements changed during the American Civil War. Authorities in the United States wanted more reliable certification from people living in Canada wanting to enter the U.S. In 1862, a centralized system for issuing passports was introduced.

The Passport Canada website provides an interesting overview of the history of passports and states the following about early Canadian passports:

“It is difficult to trace the history of Canadian passports in the first few years after Confederation because so few were issued. The financial statements of the Secretary of State in 1878 record an annual passport revenue of $50. Since passports then cost $1 each, we know 50 must have been issued. Over the next few years, annual receipts varied between $35 and $50. In those early years, passports were issued as single-sheet certificates stamped with the official seal. In 1915, Canada switched to the British form of passport, a ten-section single sheet folder printed in English only.” See Passport Canada

The first bilingual Canadian passport was produced in 1926. Read more about the history of passports at the above site.

Library and Archives Canada does hold some passports (RG 25 A5c) and an index of those holdings.

Olive Tree Genealogy provides some additional information and links regarding passports and naturalization.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Immigration Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.