Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016
Place of birth

Release date: May 3, 2017 Updated on: October 25, 2017


'Place of birth' refers to the name of the geographic location where the person was born. The geographic location is specified according to geographic boundaries current at the time of data collection, not the geographic boundaries at the time of birth.

In the 2016 Census of Population, the geographic location refers to the name of the province, territory or country in which the person was born. It refers to a province or territory if the person was born in Canada. It refers to a country if the person was born outside Canada.

Statistical unit(s)



Countries and Areas of Interest for Social Statistics - SCCAI 2016
Place of birth
Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) 2016

Reported in

2016 (25% sample); 2011Note 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.0.

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 12


Response categories included the 13 provinces and territories of Canada for those Born in Canada and one write-in space where those Born outside Canada could specify their country of birth.

Refer to Appendix 5.2 for the places of birth disseminated for the 2016 Census of Population.


In the 2016 Census of Population, the place of birth question is: Where was this person born?

Respondents were asked to indicate their place of birth according to the boundaries in existence on May 10, 2016, the reference date for the 2016 Census of Population.

As well, additional instructions were provided to respondents in the 2016 Census of Population Long-form Guide:

For persons who were born in Canada, please mark the province or territory of birth.

For persons who were born outside Canada, please report the country of birth according to present boundaries. For example, persons born in the former U.S.S.R., should report the specific country or republic that is now a nation state, such as Ukraine, Latvia, Russia, etc.

For persons who are not sure of the country because its boundaries have changed since the time of birth, please report the name of the nearest city, state or province.

For adopted persons, if the place of birth is unknown, please report the place of birth of their adoptive parents.

The responses to the questions on place of birth, place of birth of father and place of birth of mother are used to derive the generation status variable.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration and place of birth, please refer to Figure 5.1.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration and citizenship, please refer to Figure 5.2.

For more information on place of birth variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Place of Birth, Generation Status, Citizenship and Immigration Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016.


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