Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Place of birth

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: October 26, 2022


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 2021 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 or area of interest if the person was born outside Canada.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 19


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

Refer to Appendix 2.6 for the places of birth disseminated for the 2021 Census of Population.


The place of birth question provides information on the diversity of Canada's population, and on the movement of people within Canada and from other countries to Canada.

In the 2021 Census of Population, the place of birth of person question is "Where was this person born?"

Persons were asked to specify their place of birth according to present boundaries on May 11, 2021, the reference date for the 2021 Census of Population.

Additional instructions on how to complete the place of birth question were provided to persons via a help button accessed in the electronic questionnaire:

For persons who were born in Canada, please select the option "Born in Canada" and the province or territory of birth according to present boundaries.

For persons who were born outside Canada, please select the option "Born outside Canada" and 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—Ukraine, Latvia, Russian Federation, 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 and the place of birth of parents are used to derive the generation status variable.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration, place of birth and generation status please refer to Figure 2.5.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration and citizenship, please refer to Figure 2.6.

For more information on place of birth variables, including information on 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, 2021.


Related 2021 data products

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