All Canadian citizens aged 18 or over may run in an election unless they are convicted of a crime under the Canada Elections Act or detained in a penitentiary.

Some public office holders are also ineligible (senators, members of provincial or territorial legislatures, the chief and assistant chief electoral officers, returning officers and some judges).

Candidates may represent a party or run as independents or without any designation.

To run, candidates must appoint an official agent who will incur election expenses. They must also pay a $1,000 deposit, which will be reimbursed once their official agent submits a return of election expenses and unused official receipts.

MPs are elected for a five-year term. However, when the government has a majority of seats in the Commons, the prime minister traditionally calls a general election in the fourth year of his term of office.