> Home > News > What You Need to Know About the New SCIS

The New Secure Certificate of Indian Status - Are You Ready?

CIS card - no longer available

As of mid-March, 2011 the Treaty 7 First Nation Band Membership Offices are no longer able to accept applications for the Certificate of Indian Status in its old form.

If you have this format of card it is STILL FINE TO USE until its scheduled renewal date! However, be aware that the ability to cross into the United States is entirely at the discretion of the U.S. Border Services.

The New Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS)

Applications can now only be made for the new Secure Certificate of Indian Status. There are two formats of this card:
- in-Canada and border-crossing.

two types of SCIS cards

The main difference between the two is that the border-crossing version has an area on the back (in technical terms, a "Machine Readable Zone" or MRZ) much like that found on a passport. In order to get this format you must consent to share necessary information with the U.S. Border Services. This information is shared only when presented to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). For details on what information you will be sharing check out AANDC's website here.

Changes in the application process

Applications for these new status cards are NOT electronic. You will have to fill in paper forms and provide 2 passport-style photos. The Treaty 7 IRAs and the Tsuu T'ina AANDC office can take these photos for you when you apply!

Changes in the card receiving process

SCIS are not issued on site. Once your form is completed and your information has been sent off to the National Processing Unit you can expect to receive your new SCIS, at the address you specified on your application, in 10-12 weeks.

Changes to the ID requirements in a nutshell

You must provide the following documentation/ID when applying for the SCIS:

  • an ORIGINAL Birth Certificate (short or long form for adults; only the long form is accepted for children)
  • 2 pieces of government-issued ID which, between them, have your photo, your signature and your date of birth (your current CIS is an acceptable and preferred piece of government-issued ID)

There are situations where you may be required to provide other documentation as well. For example, if you are married and your ID is not in your married name then you will have to provide an original marriage certificate).

For exact details on ID requirements please be sure to read AANDC's requirements here. That same page will also explain what constitutes valid ID for both adults and children. You can go directly to the section on valid ID for adults here or for children here.

Where you can apply

In the Treaty 7 area you can go see your nation's IRA or go to the AANDC office located in the Tsuu T'ina Nation Administration Building (or the AANDC office in Edmonton if you're up that way). FOR A LIMITED TIME there will be Processing Officers from the National Processing Unit who can take your applications directly when you go to one of the Treaty 7 Membership Offices. Please phone the office of your choice to check when the Processing Officers will be there. Click here for a listing of application office phone numbers.

The differences between applying at your Membership Office (IRA) vs. an AANDC office

The Treaty 7 IRAs can take applications for the in-Canada cards directly. They will then send your application (along with your ORIGINAL Birth Certificate and copies of your ID) to the National Processing Unit. They can also assist you with filling in the application for the border-crossing card and can take the accompanying photos for you but for this card you MUST deliver the application IN PERSON to a government office (i.e. AANDC). Government offices will be able to photocopy your Birth Certificate and therefore can give that back to you right away.

The reason for this difference is that only AANDC employees are certified to intake applications for the border-crossing format SCIS. These are policies set out by the U.S. Government which restricts the intake of SCIS border-crossing applications to federal employees. Since one of the uses of the border-crossing cards will be to cross over to the U.S., AANDC has to abide by their terms.

Some sound advice

Here are some pointers to make your application experience go as smoothly as possible.

  • READ AHEAD! Familiarize yourself with the ID and documentation requirements so that you can have everything in hand when you apply.
  • CALL AHEAD! Most of the application offices require appointments. Click here for a listing of application office phone numbers.
  • PLAN AHEAD! If you have anything other than a straight-forward application you should ask to speak with the IRA before going (perhaps when you make the appointment) so that you can explain your particular needs and they can advise you on what additional documentation you may require; this way you don't arrive at the office only to find you don't have everything necessary.

Detailed information

While we outlined some basic information for you here, you should still go to AANDC's website and read all the information and FAQs available on the SCIS. Detailed ID requirements can be found there as well!