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a Candidate

You’ve made the decision to become a candidate in the next federal election.
To get your name on the ballot, you’ll need to take a few steps.


Keyword: The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy brought together past and present candidates to talk about how they became candidates..

(EC commissioned resource) (Coming soon)

For a quick overview of what you need to know about becoming a candidate, check out this video made by our Political Financing team.

8 Steps to becoming a candidate

  • 1

    Check that you are allowed to become a candidate. Part 6 of the Canada Elections Act outlines the details.

  • 2

    Decide between running with a political party or as an independent candidate.

  • 3

    Select an official agent.

  • 4

    Get your Nomination Paper.

  • 5

    Complete the nomination process.

  • 6

    Once the election is officially underway, submit your nomination to the returning officer.

  • 7

    Within 48 hours, receive confirmation from the returning officer that your nomination has been accepted. Congratulations, you’re officially a candidate!

  • 8

    Have your official agent open a bank account for your campaign. You can do this before or after you have submitted your nomination. You can now start collecting and spending money for your election campaign!

STEP 4: Can I be a candidate?

Use this checklist to make sure you can be a candidate in a federal election:

  • You are a Canadian citizen
  • You are at least 18 years old on election day
  • You have not broken any federal election laws
  • You are not already an elected member of a provincial government
  • You are not a sheriff or a judge
  • You are not in jail
  • You are not an elections officer
  • You are not a candidate from a previous election
    who did not finish filing their
    candidate’s electoral campaign return

This is just a partial list. For the complete list, see section 65 of the Canada Elections Act. If you have any questions about your eligibility to be a candidate, contact Elections Canada at 1 800‑486‑6563.

Did you know?

You can run as a candidate for election in one Keyword: electoral district at a time. However, you do not need to live in the district to run in it!

Make sure you are allowed to run as a candidate.

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STEP 5: Political party or independant?

You can be a candidate for a Keyword: registered political party, as long as you are officially endorsed by that party. If the party endorses you, it means they have chosen you to represent them in your electoral district. The process for becoming a candidate for a political party is different for each party. Check out Springtide’s video on Launching your Bid (Coming soon) (EC commissioned resource) or contact the party of your choice for more information on their candidate nomination process.

Check the Elections Canada list of Canada’s registered federal political parties.

Here is another Elections Canada resource you might need if you decide to run for a political party: Becoming a political party nomination contestant.

You can also run as an Keyword: independent candidate, which means you are not representing any of the registered federal political parties.

In Launching your Bid for Parliament, Springtide explores some of the differences between running as a candidate of a political party and running as an independent candidate.

(EC commissioned resource)

Decide if you are going to run as a member of a political party, or as an independent.

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STEP 6: Who do I need on my team?

Before you can become a candidate, accept any Keyword: contributions, or spend any money related to your campaign, you must first choose your Keyword: official agent. Official agents play a key role in running a campaign, and their job continues until well after the election has passed. Watch this video created by the Political Financing Team at Elections Canada, to learn more.

An official agent

  1. Your official agent is the person who takes care of the Keyword: political financing related to your campaign and submits your financial reports to Elections Canada.
  2. This person has a lot of responsibility, including authorizing any advertising that you may use during a campaign. They should be someone who is qualified and who you know and trust very well.
  3. Your official agent must be a Canadian citizen at least 18 years old.

For more information about your official agent, check out this chart: Role and Appointment Process – Official Agent

Did you know?

*Coming soon! The requirements related to having an auditor are changing due to the passage of new legislation. We will update this section by June 13, 2019.

Choose your official agent. You can’t become a candidate without one.

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STEP 7: How do I officially become a candidate?

  • 1

    Enter your postal code into the online online tool posted on the Elections Canada website to find the contact information for your returning officer and any other information you might need about your electoral district.
  • 2

    Get your Nomination Paper from your returning officer or the Elections Canada website.
  • 3

    Fill out the Nomination Paper by following the instructions in Step 8: How Do I Complete the Nomination Paper?
  • 4

    Give your Nomination Paper to the returning officer in person any time between the day the election is called and the 21st day before election day.

Get your Nomination Paper from your returning officer or the Elections Canada website.

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STEP 8: How do I complete the Nomination Paper?

Follow the steps below to make sure you’ve filled out all of the sections of the Keyword: Nomination Paper. *Coming soon! The nomination process will be changing due to the passage of new legislation. We will update this section by June 13, 2019.

Did you know?

Candidates can delegate some of the tasks below (including tasks 1, 4 and 6).

Candidates can delegate tasks
Part Details Who is involved?

Candidate, Official Agent and Auditor

Give names and other personal information for yourself as the candidate and your official agent, and auditor.

List your Keyword: political affiliation (the name of the political party you’re running for) or independent, or leave it blank.

If you have the support of a political party, include proof of this with your Nomination Paper. This could be a letter from the party.

You (the candidate)

If you are running as a candidate of a political party, the person authorized to endorse your nomination

Candidate’s Consent to Nomination and Designation of Official Agent and Auditor

You and a witness who can vote sign the statement to show you accept the nomination and your official agent

You (the candidate)

A witness who can vote

Declaration of Official Agent

Your official agent signs the Declaration of Official Agent.

Your official agent

Oath of Witness to Consent of Candidate

The person who signed as witness in Part 2 signs the Oath of Witness statement with the returning officer, unless they are giving the Nomination Paper to the returning officer electronically

The same witness as Part 2

If in person, the returning officer

Receipt for Nomination Paper

The returning officer signs this section to confirm that they have received the Nomination Paper.

The Returning Officer

Notice of Confirmation or Refusal of Nomination

The returning officer accepts or refuses your Nomination within 48 hours.

If your Nomination is refused, you can replace it with another or correct it before the close of nominations (2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before election day).

The Returning Officer

Electors Consenting to Candidacy

Provide the names, addresses and signatures of at least 100 electors who support you being a candidate. The electors have to be from the electoral district you will run in.

A witness signs each page of elector signatures.

50–100 signatures of electors from the electoral district you are running in

A witness for each page of signatures

Did you know?

In most electoral districts, candidates need 100 signatures on the Nomination Paper, but in some, you need only 50 signatures. These districts are mostly in rural or remote areas where voters live far from each other. Check this list to see if your electoral district is one of these places.

Fill out all the parts of the Nomination Paper.

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STEP 9: How do I file the Nomination Paper?

Get your Nomination Paper to your returning officer by 2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before the election.

Make an appointment with the returning officer to make sure everything is done.

Make sure that the returning officer receives all your documents before the close of nominations.

If you cannot get the paper copies to the returning officer before the deadline, contact the returning officer immediately. You can also send the documents to the returning officer by courier. If you choose to send them by courier, we suggest that you share the tracking details with the returning officer.

Did you know?

Following an Alberta Court decision, prospective candidates no longer have to pay a $1,000 deposit to file for nomination (EC resource). Elections Canada has applied this change across the country in order to keep the federal election rules the same across Canada.

Quick Tips to File Your Nomination Paper

  • Submit your papers early! That way you have time to fix anything if the returning officer asks you to make changes. You have until the close of nominations to make changes.

  • It’s a good idea to make an appointment with the returning officer when you are ready to file.

  • Check that the names and addresses of the electors who signed Part 7 are easy to read, complete and clear. This will help the returning officer review your file quickly.

  • Get more signatures than you need, so that if there are any issues with any of the electors on your list when your returning officer reviews the signatures, you still have enough. Once nominations are closed, you cannot provide more signatures.

  • You can make a few changes, such as your name, address, and occupation, once your nomination has been confirmed. These changes must be made before 5:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations.

Your Nomination Paper needs to be filed by 2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before the election. Double check that you have all of these documents:

  1. The complete Keyword: Nomination Paper
  2. If you’re running as a candidate for a political party, you will need to include the letter from the political party that shows they approve of you being their candidate. If you are running as an independent candidate, you do not need this letter.
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STEP 10: How do I know if I am officially a candidate?

The returning officer has 48 hours to review your Nomination Paper and confirm the electors’ signatures. As soon as this is completed, the returning officer will give you a copy of
Part 6 – Notice of Confirmation or Refusal of Nomination.

Reminder: If your Nomination Paper is incomplete, you may correct it or file a new copy before the close of nominations (2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before election day).

If you have more questions about the nomination process, visit our website.

What if I change my mind about running as a candidate?

You can withdraw your name as a candidate up until 5:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations. Give the returning officer a written statement signed by you and two electors from your electoral district. If you miss the deadline, you may withdraw but your name will still appear on the ballot.

Did you know?

Once you are a confirmed candidate, your name will appear on the List of Candidates in your electoral district on the Voter Information Service. Your returning officer will also provide you with information products about your electoral district that may help you with your campaign.

The returning officer confirms that your Nomination Paper has been accepted. You’re officially a candidate!

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STEP 11: How do I start my campaign?

Before you start your campaign, your official agent opens your campaign bank account. There is a package for official agents developed by the Political Financing team at Elections Canada to help with the process.

Remember: You don’t have to be a confirmed candidate to have an official agent, a bank account, or to spend or receive contributions. But, you cannot give tax receipts to anyone who gives contributions before you are officially confirmed by the returning officer. For more information, please see the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC Resource).

Did you know?

As long as you have an official agent and a bank account, your campaign can spend money or accept contributions of money, property, or services from people.

Your official agent opens your campaign bank account.

  • The account needs to be with a Canadian financial institution, or an authorized foreign bank.

  • All transactions related to the campaign must go through the campaign bank account.

  • This bank account stays open until the campaign fulfills all financial obligations, such as paying back any loans and submitting reports with Elections Canada.

  • Decide how your team will keep track of election expenses to make sure that you do not spend more than you are allowed to (see Chapter 7: Electoral Campaign Expenses, in the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents).

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