As it says up in the title, my dad was born to (working) Canadian diplomats in Ghana. I was born in the United States, and before that my dad had lived most of his adult life in Canada. I'm not sure what class of citizenship he is under (e.g. by decent or by birth), but he is indeed a Canadian citizen. Now, here is what I am wondering. Am I a Canadian citizen by decent, or was my father the "first generation abroad", I being the "second generation"?

I can answer any questions in the comments below, thank you.

2 Answers 2


So what you really want to know is, are you a Canadian citizen.

  • If you were born after April 17, 2009: You are a Canadian citizen. The original Bill C-37 that took effect in 2009 which limits Canadian citizenship by descent to the first generation born abroad would not have given citizenship to you, because you dad was born abroad. There was an exception for if you were born to a public servant, but it did not apply to you as you were not born to a public servant. However, Bill C-24 that recently passed added another exception for people born to people born to a public servant (which is your case), and it takes effect retroactively to April 17, 2009, so that would cover you.

  • If you were born between April 17, 1981 and April 16, 2009: You are a Canadian citizen. You were automatically a Canadian citizen by descent at birth because you were born to a Canadian citizen. (You were born before Bill C-37 took effect in 2009 so you still were automatically a Canadian citizen at birth even though you are a "second generation" born abroad.) You hadn't reached 28 by the time Bill C-37 took effect in 2009, which repealed the requirement to retain citizenship for second generation born abroad by age 28.

  • If you were born between February 15, 1977 and April 16, 1981: You were a Canadian citizen by descent at birth, but since you are a second generation born abroad, you lost your Canadian citizenship when you turned 28 unless, before you were 28, you applied to retain your Canadian citizenship (and it was approved).

  • If you were born between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977: You are a Canadian citizen, because your dad was a Canadian citizen when you were born (I'm assuming they registered him as appropriate), and even if you didn't gain citizenship at birth because your parents didn't register you at a Canadian consulate, Bill C-37 retroactively gave you citizenship.

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    "because your dad was born abroad" - are you sure? The citizenship laws of most countries treat the children of working diplomats as if they were born in the country their parent represents. Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 11:37

Usually, diplomats working abroad are treated as if they were working in their own country (for example, children born on US soil to foreign diplomats working in the US, are not automatically granted US citizenship by virtue of being born on US soil).

If your father was born in Ghana while at least one of his parents was working as a Canadian diplomat, then it is very likely that he is a Canadian citizen by birth. You would probably not be the "second generation abroad" in this case.

However, this is my opinion from reading stuff on the internet. If you definitively need to know (for official or legal reasons), then you might want to consider contacting a lawyer who is an expert on immigration.

  • 2
    To answer the question in the title - "probably not at all. It is as if he were born in Canada"
    – Scott Earle
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 5:20

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