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Can I get my RCAF relative's service record?


Service records (other than those killed in action) are not open to the public until after 20 years.

Those killed in action are available on line through Ancestry. Those now deceased but not killed in action  are restricted access to relatives. They become open 20 years after death. Obituary notices provide names of relatives which gives one a clue as to where to start to try and make contact through mediums such as Facebook, Phone Books (not so relevant any more now as so many people are on mobile), Newspapers and on line sites such as Ancestry. It can be a very tedious and time consuming endeavour  It can also be somewhat expensive as many on line archives like Newspapers require a subscription to access.

Open Records: Before 1918, First World War and Second World War (killed in action)

All military records created before 1918, including the service files for those who served in 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. Information about these records are provided in the relevant pages of the Military Heritage section of our Web site. Should you have questions, use the online genealogy inquiry form.

Restricted Records: After 1918 

For all other military service files (1919-1997), including Second World War (not killed in action), access restrictions apply. The personal information contained in the service files are 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

For requests for information concerning Canada Forces members currently serving or who were released from service or died in service from 1 January 1998 to the present, please write to:

Department of National Defence
Director, Access to Information and Privacy (DAIP)
National Defence Headquarters
Ottawa ON K1A 0K2

Exception: Requests for medical and dental records only 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.

How to Send an Inquiry Concerning Your Own or Another Individual’s Records

We try to answer inquiries within 30 days; however, due to the large number of inquiries being received, we are currently experiencing delays in our response times. Clients who submit a written request should expect to wait six 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 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 know the date of birth, service number or S.I.N. (social insurance number), secondary information (e.g., the names of next of kin, postings, dates of service, place of enlistment) can assist in identifying the correct individual.
  • Consult the section below on Access Restrictions.
  • 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 these records. Inquiries must be sent by mail or fax.
  • Your request can be written as a letter or you can print off a blank copy of the Application for Military Service Information form [PDF 663 KB] also available in Rich Text Format [RTF 44,516 KB], which should be filled in, signed and sent by mail or fax.
  • Inquiries should be sent by mail or fax to:

ATIP and Personnel Records Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4
Fax: 613-947-8456

Access Restrictions

  • Access to personal information relating to an individual who is still living requires that person's signed consent.
  • If the individual has been deceased for less than 20 years, limited information may be released to immediate family. Proof of death and relationship must be provided.
  • There are no restrictions on access to information relating to an individual who has been deceased for more than 20 years. Proof of death is required.

Proof of Death: A copy of a death certificate, newspaper obituary, funeral notice or photograph of the gravestone. Note that proof of death is not required if the individual died while in service.

Proof of Relationship: A document that clearly demonstrates the relationship between the individual concerned and the person requesting the record. Both names must appear on the document. A newspaper obituary, baptismal certificate or full-form birth certificate are acceptable. A wallet-sized birth certificate that does not indicate parents' names is not accepted. Please do not send original documents; photocopies are acceptable.

Immediate Family: A parent, spouse, child, sibling or grandchild of the individual.


Should you wish to submit a formal request under privacy legislation, see: Records of the Government of Canada


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Related articles Access to Canadian Government Records
New Zealand Defence Forces Personnel Archives: 1921 onward
Access to New Zealand WW1 Records
Australian Military Service Records
Requests for personal data and service records (UK)
Article details
Article ID: 124
Category: Knowledgebase
Date added: 2016-07-22 23:19:48
Views: 933
Rating (Votes): Article rated 3.3/5.0 (14)

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