Permanent Residence (PR) Card

Last updated: 1 December 2023

Canadian PR Card

Your PR Card is a proof of your permanent residency in Canada.

It can also act like a Photo ID and be used at a port of entry to prove your status as a Permanent Resident to enter Canada, when returning from abroad.

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    This page covers information for newcomers on Canada’s Permanent Resident (PR) Card, including how to avail one as a newcomer to Canada, how to replace your card, what to do if your PR Card expires while you are out of Canada, and more.

    What is a PR Card?

    A Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) is an identification document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It includes a person’s photo and proof of their PR status. Once a person is granted PR status, and completes an official landing in Canada, they can avail their PR Card. The card serves as a valid travel document when entering Canada, and is typically valid for five years, though in very rare cases it may only be valid for one year. It is advised that all permanent residents obtain their PR card to easily prove their legal status, as it was introduced in 2002 as an alternative to the use of printed immigration documents to do so.

    You need a valid permanent resident (PR) card to prove you’re a permanent resident when you return to Canada from another country. Read on to find out what to do if your PR card expires while you are outside of Canada.

    How long does it take to get your PR card delivered in Canada?

    IRCC seeks to maintain a service standard of roughly one month (30 days) of processing time for new PR cards—though this can fluctuate depending on circumstances that may impact IRCC’s ability to process cards within that time frame.

    Similarly, the department seeks to renew or replace lost PR cards within roughly two months (60 days). You can check the latest processing times for PR cards through IRCC’s online processing time tool.

    How long is your PR card valid for in Canada?

    As previously mentioned, most PR cards come with a validity of up to five years, however occasionally they may be given a validity of only one year. Importantly your PR status does not expire along with your PR Card—it is simply necessary to renew your card to continue to prove your valid PR status in Canada.

    When your PR card expires you can no longer use it as a travel document, which can be especially impactful for those returning to Canada from abroad. PRs are advised to apply for a renewal of their PR card within six months of expiry.

    Is my PR Card a Residence Permit?

    Your PR card is not a PR permit in Canada. That is to say that the length and validity of your PR card doesn’t determine how long you will be a PR for in Canada. The document is only a proof of status identifier, it is not meant to describe the nature and length of your stay in the country.

    However, there is one important way that PR cards can function like a PR permit—they are needed to enter Canada during international travel. Upon entering a Canadian international port of entry, or border, PRs will be required to show their PR Card to prove their status for valid entry before they are allowed to enter Canada again. Read on to find out what to do if you are outside of Canada when your PR card expires.

    As the name suggest, Permanent Residence is supposed to be permanent. This is why PRs in Canada are afforded many of the same rights and privileges as Canadian citizens. Losing PR status is not an automatic process, and needs to be voluntarily done, even if you have not met the physical presence requirements that are needed to maintain your status and apply for Canadian citizenship.

    What are the benefits of a PR card in Canada?

    The main benefit of getting your PR card is the ability to prove your status as a PR in Canada, and to travel to Canada from abroad without restriction or hinderance.

    As a PR in Canada, you have the ability to:

    • Live and work anywhere in Canada;
    • Access universal healthcare and social services;
    • Sponsor your family members to travel to, and even live in Canada;
    • Access free education for your children;
    • Transition to Canadian citizenship once eligibility requirements are met; and
    • Access more expansive rights and freedoms in Canada than temporary residents.

    Do you need a PR Card to travel to Canada? What can I do if my PR card has expired while I am outside of Canada?

    You do need a PR card to travel back to Canada, as the card is used as an official status document in Canada.

    If you are a permanent resident whose PR Card has expired while outside of Canada, you can apply to receive a Permanent Residence Travel Document (PRTD). A PRTD is an official temporary document that proves your PR status in Canada—it can be used (once) to provide proof to travel companies and border officials that you are able to travel to Canada as a PR in the absence of your PR card. This document is temporary, and largely exists for the sole purpose of aiding Canadian PRs whose PR Card has expired while they are abroad.

    Importantly, if you do not have a valid PR card, nor a PRTD, and are planning to travel to Canada as a PR, you may be unable to board your flight, train, bus, boat (or other means of commercial travel) to Canada. 

    I am a new permanent resident of Canada. Do I need to apply for a permanent resident card?

    For their first PR card (upon flying to and landing in Canada), new PRs will not need to apply to receive their document. After new PRs declare their address in Canada upon passing border customs (or updating IRCC’s address tool on their current address), they will be automatically mailed their first PR Card in roughly one month of landing.

    How do I renew or replace my PR card?

    1. Download the application package available at IRCC’s website. This package has all the necessary forms that must be filled out. If you are applying to renew your PR Card, make sure to include your expired document with your application. A document checklist is also available so you reference all needed documents;
    2. Pay your application fees online—to complete this, you will need a PDF reader, a printer, valid email address, and a credit or debit card. Once you pay make sure to print your receipt and include it with your application; and
    3. Submit your application—once all necessary steps are completed, you will need to send your application to the Case Processing Center in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Note that there are two different addresses depending on whether you are sending your application by mail, or by courier.

    How can I qualify for urgent processing of my PR card?

    Under certain circumstances IRCC will choose to expedite processing of a PR Card based on certain factors of the applicant’s situation. To qualify for urgent processing of your PR Card, you must be travelling within the next three months due to:

    • A job opportunity;
    • Your own serious illness;
    • The death of a family member;
    • Work related to your current job; and/or
    • The serious illness of a family member.

    Even if you qualify for urgent processing, IRCC cannot guarantee that they will be able to renew or replace your PR card in time.

    What is a Temporary Travel Document and how can it help me in the absence of a PR card?

    As a general rule for travel to Canada, all commercial carriers require Canadian Permanent Residents to show their PR Card before boarding, in addition to the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) requiring a status-proving document (like a PR Card) for all international travellers at any Canadian Port of Entry.

    Canadian PRs, who are outside of Canada, and not in possession of a Canadian Permanent Resident Card, may apply at a Canadian Immigration Visa Office for a Travel Document that will enable them to be transported back to Canada by a commercial carrier.

    Before issuing a Travel Document, the Canadian Immigration Visa Officer must be able to confirm, from the documents submitted, the identity of the applicant and that the applicant was once a Canadian Permanent Resident. In addition, the Canadian Immigration Visa Officer must be satisfied that the applicant has complied with the residency obligations of Canadian Permanent Residents.

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