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Gathering documents to support your claim

When should I begin?

It’s very important to start collecting your documents right away. It might take longer than expected to gather the right documents.

Your lawyer or representative will need enough time to review your documents, have them translated into English or French, and submit them before the filing deadline.

When are my documents due?

There are two deadlines to be aware of:

  • Documents that prove your identity or how you traveled to Canada are due with your Basis of Claim (BOC) form. This deadline depends on how you started your claim:
    • Claims when you arrive in Canada (Port of Entry Claim): 15 days after your claim was sent to the IRB
    • Claims from inside Canada (Inland Claim): whenever you are ready to submit your BOC form to an IRCC office
    If you get identity or travel documents after you submit your BOC form, submit them as soon as a lawyer or representative has reviewed them to make sure they are consistent with your other forms.
  • All other documents are due at least 10 days before your hearing at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

Should I get my documents reviewed by a lawyer?

It is important to get a lawyer or representative to review your documents before they are submitted. It can be difficult to know what documents and information from your home country will support your claim.

Your documents must be consistent with the contents of your BOC form and immigration forms. Your lawyer or representative will make sure that all of your documents, forms and country information match. Even the smallest difference in dates, names or facts can create problems for your claim.

Do my documents need to be translated?

It is important to get your documents translated into either English or French. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) does not accept documents in other languages.

If you have a lawyer or representative, they should help you get the documents translated. If you do not have a lawyer or representative, you must find a translator, friend, family member, or community organization to translate your documents.

The person who translates your documents must give you a translator’s declaration, which includes:

  • the translator's name
  • the language translated, and
  • a statement signed by the translator that the translation is accurate

Even if a document such as a passport has been seized by Canadian officials, you should submit a translation and declaration to the IRB if you have a copy of it.

How can I stay organized?

You might have to contact people or organizations in your country to ask for documents. You should keep track of your progress, including:

  • who you contacted (name and organization)
  • what document you asked for
  • how you contacted them
  • when you contacted them, and
  • whether or not they responded

Remember to keep copies of all letters, faxes and emails that you send as well as any responses that you receive. Keep any envelopes that documents or replies arrive in. Bring these things to your hearing.

The University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project (UORAP) has helpful resources about collecting your documents, such as a To Do List to help you stay organized.