Requests for Military Service Files

Open records (Before 1914, First World War and Second World War – killed in action)

All military records created before 1914, the service files for those who served in the First World War (1914-1918), and the service files for those killed in action during the Second World War (1939-1945), are open records and no access restrictions apply.

Consult the following pages for information about records relating to military service:

Restricted records

For all other military service files (1919 to the present), including Second World War (not killed in action), access restrictions apply. The personal information contained in the service files is protected by the provisions of privacy legislation. For the same reason, the database and indexes that are used to identify the files cannot be made available on our Web site. Only staff may access them; therefore there is no online database available.

Records not held by LAC

The Department of National Defense holds the following restricted records:

  • Canadian Forces regular members currently serving, were released from service or died in service between 1 January 1998 and the present; and
  • Canadian Forces reserve members currently serving, were released from service or died in service between 1 March 2008 and the present.

Submit a request through National Defense

Online

Using the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request service is a faster, easier and more convenient way to submit requests.

By mail

Department of National Defense
Director, Access to Information and Privacy (DAIP)
National Defense Headquarters
Ottawa, ON  K1A OK2

Exception: Requests for the medical or dental records of Canadian Armed Forces members who were released from service or who died in service more than five years ago are handled by Library and Archives Canada.

Records held by LAC (Military service files after 1919)

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the following restricted Canadian Forces military service files after 1919:

  • Canadian Forces regular members (1919–1997), including from the Second World War (not killed in action);
  • Canadian Forces reserve members (1919-2007).

Submit a request through LAC

Online

Using the ATIP Online Request service is a faster, easier and more convenient way to submit requests.

In person, by mail or fax:

Complete and include relevant details you are seeking on the Application for military service files of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces after 1919PDF Version 775 Kb

Your request must be signed and be submitted either in person, by mail or fax to the ATIP & PR Office. We do not accept email inquiries for these records.

Considerations

We try to answer inquiries within 30 days; however, due to the large number of inquiries being received, clients who submit a written request should expect to wait ten months for a response. Priority service is given to people who require documentation to prove that they qualify for pensions, allowances, claims and other benefits, therefore, these types of requests should be clearly identified.

For projects involving research in a large number of files, the request will be assessed by our staff to determine if current resources can accommodate such an extensive commitment.

  • Your request can be written as a letter.
  • Your request must be signed.
  • To identify a file, we require surname, full given name(s), date of birth, and service number or social insurance number.
  • If you do not have that information, secondary information (e.g., the names of next of kin, postings, dates of service, place of enlistment) can assist in identifying the correct individual.
  • Please specify what document(s) you require. If you are doing family history research, we recommend that you request a "genealogy package," which will include copies of selected documents from the file that highlight/summarize the individual's service.
  • We do not accept email inquiries for genealogy requests. Such inquiries must be sent by mail or fax. To learn more, see our Genealogy and Family History page.
  • Consult the section below on Access restrictions.

Access restrictions

Important

  • For individuals still living: Personal information cannot be released without the written consent of the individual concerned.

  • For individuals deceased less than 20 years: Limited personal information will be released to an immediate family member (spouse, parent, sibling, child or grandchild) of the individual concerned if proof of relationship and proof of death are provided. Proof of death is not required if the individual died while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

  • For individuals deceased more than 20 years: Personal information will be released on an individual deceased for more than 20 years if proof of death is provided. Proof of death is not required if the individual died while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Please be sure to attach all relevant documents, photocopies if submitted by mail or fax, and electronic copies if submitted online.

Note 1: The following are examples of documents acceptable as proof of relationship: newspaper obituary, baptismal certificate, marriage certificate, or a full-form birth certificate that indicates parents’ names. A wallet-sized birth certificate is not acceptable. Documents must clearly show the relationship between the service member and the requestor and both names must appear on the document.

Note 2: The following are examples of documents accepted as proof of death: death certificate, newspaper obituary, funeral notice or photograph of the gravestone.

Should you wish to submit a formal request under privacy legislation, see: Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records.

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