New photo app makes applying for Indian Status cards less expensive

Denise Titian, August 19, 2019

Indian Status Card with Membership Clerk Rosie Marsden displays instructions on using a new a new smartphone app at the NTC's main office in Port Alberni. (Denise Titian photo)

Canada — 

Recent changes to the application process for the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) has eliminated the need for commercial photo labs.

A new app called SCIS Photo App allows the applicant to take their own status card photo using their smartphone.

The SCIS Photo App is free and downloadable from the App Store or Google Play Store. Simply download and install the SCIS Photo app to your device.

In order to use the app you need to have your guarantor with you to confirm your identity. The applicant will be asked to fill in information and to sign documents using their touch screen. Follow the instructions to take the ‘selfie’ photo then have your guarantor sign, using your touch screen. The information will then be sent electronically to Indigenous Services Canada while the necessary hard copy forms are sent via Canada Post.

The app was designed to help SCIS applicants submit their photo for the SCIS card, with an accompanying guarantor’s signature and without the physical and financial burden of going to a photography studio. 

An applicant needs an internet connection and their guarantor must be present, to facilitate the submission of their photo via the app. Once submitted, the photo will be merged with the applicant’s paper submission as soon as the latter submission has been received and processed.

Other changes include supporting identification requirements. Now, only once piece of valid identification is required instead of two and birth certificates are no longer required.

Your guarantor will be someone that can confirm your identity and fit criteria set out in the SCIS Guarantor Declaration form. The guarantor list has been expanded to include people who are holders of a valid SCIS who were over age 16 at the time the card was applied for, Indian Registrar or Deputy Registrar, an elected or appointed official, such as elected chief and council, mayor, MP or MLA.

For a complete list of guarantor criteria visit

SCIS applicants will still be required to fill out the six-page SCIS application form and mail it in to Indigenous Services Canada. The process takes about 16 weeks for complete applications.

For same-day service for a standard Certificate of Indian Status card, applicants may contact their First Nation for instructions on how to renew. Standard cards are valid for five years for adults.

The secure status card is valid for 10 years for adults and five years for children and dependent adults.

You can renew your current secure status card up to six months before the renewal date or up to one year after the "Renew before" date on your card.

If applying by mail, you must provide:

  1. a completed Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) Application for Already Registered Persons (PDF print only, 239 Kb, 6 pages; PDF fillable/saveable, 126 Kb, 6 pages)
  2. photos that meet the photo requirements
  3. photocopies of the front and back of original acceptable valid identification, each photocopy signed by a guarantor
  4. a guarantor declaration (PDF print only, 137 Kb, 2 pages; PDF fillable/saveable, 92 Kb, 2 pages)