Requests for Military Service Files

Open records

The following are open records and no access restrictions apply:

  • all military records before 1914
  • service files for those who served in the First World War (1914 to 1918)
  • service files for those who died in service during the Second World War or who subsequently died due to wartime injury or illness (1939 to 1947)
  • records relating to medals, honours and awards

Restricted records held by Library and Archives Canada (service files after 1919)

Access restrictions apply for military service files from 1919 to the present, including the Second World War. The only exception is the files for those who died during the war.

The personal information contained in the restricted  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.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the restricted military service files for the following:

  • Canadian Forces regular members (1919 to 1997), including Permanent Force, Second World War (those who did not die during the war) and Korea
  • Canadian Forces reserve members (1919 to 2007) (note that not all files were retained for the Reserves)
  • Newfoundland Militia members who served in the Second World War (note that not all files were retained)
  • Submit a request to LAC for restricted records

    Please read the sections below on Considerations and Access Restrictions before submitting an application.

    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 form. You can fill in the form before or after you print it. 

    Application for military service files of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces after 1919. PDF Version 775 Kb

    Your request must be signed and can be submitted either in person, by mail or by fax to:  

    Library and Archives Canada
    Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
    395 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, ON  K1A 0N4

    Fax: 613-947-8456

  • 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.

    Other considerations:

    • 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/or 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.

    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.

Restricted records held by National Defence

The Department of National Defence holds the following records:

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

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

  • Submit a request to National Defence online

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

  • Submit a request to National Defence by mail

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

Other records not held by Library and Archives Canada

  • Rejected for active Canadian Armed Forces service on medical grounds

    These records no longer exist; they were destroyed under a Treasury Board Authority, dated 7 May 1964.

  • Called up for Canadian Armed Forces service during the Second World War (1939-1945) but never enrolled

    These records no longer exist; they were destroyed under a Treasury Board Authority, dated 7 May 1964.

  • Pacific Coast Militia Rangers

    These military personnel records were never placed in Library and Archives Canada's custody, and it is our understanding that they no longer exist.

  • Merchant Marine

    Wartime records for the Merchant Navy, 1939-1947 and 1951-1953, are held by:

    Access to Information and Privacy
    Veterans Affairs Canada
    PO Box 7700
    Charlottetown, PE  C1A 8M9

    Tel.: 1-877-566-8609
    Fax: 902-368-0496

    See also: Merchant Marine

  • Service with the Sea, Army or Air Cadets

    Individuals are encouraged to contact the Cadet Corps or Squadron with which they were a member to obtain their Cadet Personnel Record (if available).

    Cadet Personnel Records are only kept until the date at which the Cadet reaches the age of twenty-five. After that time, these files are destroyed, in accordance with the Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) on the Management of Record Information and the Treasury Board Policy on the Management of Government Information.

    If you were a Cadet and have not reached the age of twenty-five and the Cadet Corps or Squadron to which you were a member was unable to provide you with your records, you should write to:

    National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group
    National Defence Headquarters
    101 Colonel By Drive
    Ottawa, ON  K1A 0K2

    Tel: 1-800-627-0828
    Fax: 613-996-1618
    E-mail: cadet-info@forces.gc.ca

  • Newfoundland overseas service

    Many Newfoundlanders enlisted with the British Forces, including the 59th Heavy (Newfoundland) Regiment, the 57th  (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment and the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment, which were units in the Royal Artillery. Records are held in the United Kingdom at the Ministry of Defence.

    Service files have not survived for the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit, which was a civilian organization paid for by the British government.

  • Records of people who served the armed forces of other countries

    The service records of people who served with the armed forces of other countries are held by other institutions.

    See: Armed Forces of other countries

Date modified: