*Updated April 2015
As a guide for new immigrants travelling outside of Canada, tripcentral.ca has compiled these important points about the Canadian Permanent Resident Card. For more details, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Permanent Resident Status
- Gives residents the ability to live and travel within Canada. However, if you want to leave Canada, you must have a valid Permanent Resident Card to re-enter
- A person in the country temporarily, such as a student, is not a permanent resident
- A Canadian Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) is the official proof that you are a permanent resident of Canada
- As a permanent resident, you are protected under Canadian law, can apply for Canadian citizenship, and get social benefits
You can apply for a PR Card if you:
- have permanent resident status
- are in Canada but are not a Canadian citizen
- have not been asked by the Canadian government to leave the country
Note: If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need a PR Card. If you are outside of the country, you can only apply for a new card after returning to Canada. PR Cards are not mailed to addresses outside of Canada, so if you apply while in the country, wait until your card arrives before leaving.
How to Get a Canadian Permanent Resident Card
- If you provided your Canadian mailing address before immigrating to Canada, you do not need to apply, one will be sent to you
- If you have not provided your address in advance, send your Canadian address using this tool within 180 days of becoming a permanent resident and a card will be mailed to you
- Apply for a PR card using the tool above if you never received one, have one that is expired or will soon expire, or your card was lost, stolen, or damaged
- The PR card takes 6-10 weeks to process (so plan in advance)
- You may apply for an urgent PR card if you are travelling outside of Canada within the next three months and do not have one
- If your card has an error, you must apply for a reissued PR card
How to Return to Canada if your Canadian Permanent Resident Card is lost, stolen, or destroyed while outside of the country
- If travelling on a plane, train, boat, or bus, you must apply for a travel document at a Canadian Visa office in the new country before returning
- If travelling in a private vehicle such as a car, you don’t need your PR card. You may use Record of Landing or Confirmation of Permanent Resident
These documents would have been given to you when you received your Visa. After you arrive in Canada, complete the steps mentioned above to obtain a new card for future use.
Keeping your Permanent Resident Status
- Live in Canada for a total of two years (730 days) out of five years. If you live outside of Canada for longer, you may lose your status
Certain exceptions apply, i.e. you were employed by a Canadian business outside of Canada; you were accompanying a Canadian citizen who is your family; etc. Consult the guidelines for other permissible circumstances.
Landed immigrants travelling to the United States
- Your passport and Visa are needed unless you’re eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), depending on your home country, and are visiting the U.S. for 90 days or less
If you’re travelling by air or sea:
- If you’re a VWP citizen, you must apply for a ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization: fee=$14)
- If you’re not a VWP citizen: You must have a visa (ESTA does not apply to you)
Designated Visa Waiver Program Countries:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom