Can I Travel While Waiting for PR Card?

You may be allowed to travel in or out of Canada if your PR card is awaiting renewal, but conditions apply.

Asking if one can travel while waiting for PR Card is a common question amongst immigrants to Canada. Yes, Landed Immigrants of Canada can still travel if they lost their permanent residency card or are awaiting the processing of a replacement card. However, certain conditions apply.

You can still travel out of Canada while waiting for your PR Card to be processed. Usually, the PR Card is required of travelers at the border while returning to Canada from a trip.

In this article, you will find highlighted legal ways by which you can return to Canada even when you don’t have your PR Card with you.

What is a PR Card?

If you are new in Canada, you may be wondering what the PR Card is and what it is used for. A PR Card is a proof of permanent residency in Canada. It is a document that Canadian permanent residents can use to show their status in Canada. The PR Card also allows its holder to travel outside of Canada and re-enter the country without having to get a new visa. If you are a student, worker, professional or young parent, it’s important to know about the PR Card and how to apply for one.

After the IRCC has certified that you have met all requirements for permanent residency, the processing time for the PR Card may take up to about 45 days or more after which you can finally access the document. Renewing your PR Card on the other hand may take up to about 111 days or more.

Your PR Card, whether new or renewed can only be received by you and cannot be sent to a non-Canadian address.

Meanwhile, the Canadian PR card is regarded as a travel document and you are required to have it as proof of permanent residency while returning to Canada from any trip. Failure to tender your PR Card may deny you entrance into Canada.

What do you do if you need to travel out of Canada but your PR Card is not Ready yet?

Knowing that your PR Card cannot be sent to a non-Canadian address and cannot be received by anyone else on your behalf.

It is best that you wait for your PR Card to be mailed to your location in Canada before you embark on any international travel.

However, if you must travel before the proof of permanent residence is ready, you can do so by applying for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD).

If you travel out of Canada while your PR Card was being processed or renewed or if the one you have expires while you are away from Canada, you can apply for PRTD to return to Canada.

You can also make the application if you lost your PR Card while you are out of the country.

This means you can only apply for the Permanent Resident Travel Document from outside of Canada. You can apply for PRTD from the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy in your location.

All of your family members (including children) are also eligible to apply so long as they are already permanent residents of Canada but do not have a PR Card to prove it.

Applying for the Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRDT) (IMM 5529)

The PRDT, which is officially regarded as IMM 5529 can be applied for by:

  • Canadian immigrants who have been granted permanent resident status but are yet to receive their PR Cards
  • Permanent residents whose PR Cards are lost or expired
  • Permanent residents whose PR Card renewal process has not been completed.

All of the above persons need to apply for the PRDT if they will return to Canada by airplane, train, bus, or boat.

Also, all persons who fall into the above categories are required to apply for PRTD irrespective of age.

For example, all members of a family who are returning to Canada without a PR will have to apply for the Permanent Resident Transport Document.

Children who are under 14 years of age must have their application signed by one of the parents or legal guardian(s).

Those who are between the ages of 14 and 18 must sign their application document and also have a parent or legal guardian to sign the document.

The following persons are not permitted or eligible to apply for the Canadian PRTD:

  • Canadian citizens
  • Canadian foreigners or immigrants who have not been granted permanent resident status
  • Permanent residents who are outside of Canada and have a valid PR Card with them
  • Those who were permanent residents in the past but have lost their PR status
  • Permanent residents who are within Canada
  • Permanent residents who wish to voluntarily renounce their permanent residence status

Eligibility Requirements for the Canadian PRTD

To apply for the Permanent Resident Travel Document, you must meet some requirements known as the ‘residency obligation of a permanent resident’.

The residency obligations are:

For those who have been permanent residents for five years or more:

You must have been residing in Canada for a minimum of 730 days for the past five years just before you apply for PRTD

For those who have been permanent residents for less than 5 years:

You must prove that you will be able to reside in Canada for a 730-day one-time stretch within your first 5 years of living in Canada as a permanent resident.

The 730-day minimum residency obligation can also include days you accompanied a Canadian citizen or permanent resident outside of Canada.

However, this person must be a spouse, common-law partner, or parent, if you are still a minor.

You can also include days when Canadian employment took you outside of the country.

This could be a representative business trip or holding a position in diaspora for a Canadian organization.

For these periods to be included in your 730 minimum day count, you must provide all required supporting documents to serve as proof of such journeys.

While applying for PRTD, you will find a downloadable document checklist that shows all documents you need to submit.

All the documents you submit should be photocopies and not the original.

You must also send an original, recent passport with your application.

Should in case you are not able to meet up the residency obligation criteria, you may still be granted PRTD based on some humanitarian and compassionate grounds such as.

These grounds can be based on circumstances such as how your work or family will be affected if you don’t return to Canada at that time.

After you apply for PRTD, it will take about 2 weeks for the process to be complete and the document granted to you so you should factor this in while planning your travel back to Canada.

Other means of Returning to Canada without a PR Card

Re-entering Canada using a Private Vehicle

If your PR Card expired or was lost while you are away from Canada, you still have your permanent resident status maintained for some time.

You can return to Canada within that window period without your PR Card if you are returning with your private vehicle.

However, there are other documents that you must tender to be able to return to Canada in your private vehicle.

This include:

  • A valid Canadian passport
  • Documents to prove Canadian identity or citizenship such as:
  • Canadian temporary passport
  • Driver’s license issued by the province or territory you reside in
  • Employment or student card that contains your picture and signature
  • Provincial identity card
  • Social insurance number card
  • Vehicle insurance certificate
  • Credit card
  • The Secure Certificate of Indian Status (only applicable to those concerned)

Re-entering Canada by Land through the US

You are not required to have a Permanent Resident Card to travel back to Canada from the United States if you are driving back in a private vehicle.

If you need to travel to the United States from Canada, you can fly there and drive back.

That is, you can fly to the United States and then drive back through a Canadian border crossing.

Another option, which may not be guaranteed

At the airport, you can simply enter as a Permanent Resident, hence, your data should be on their database.

All your information should be in the immigration computer system and you may be allowed to re-enter Canada without any issue.

There is however no guarantee for this option. Some commercial airline carriers are stricter than others.

Some may request a Permanent Resident Card on a routine basis, and if that happens you will not be allowed to board.

In conclusion, it is always advisable to have your Permanent Resident Card or a Travel Document when you travel outside of Canada.

If you must travel outside of Canada and your PR Card is expiring, you should apply for urgent PR card renewal.

PR Card Processing Time

Applicants can check their permanent resident card application status online via the IRCC website. Applicants can check the pr card processing time by entering their file number and date of birth, it is also recommended to keep an eye on your email as the immigration office will most likely contact you once there has been a change on your file.

As for how long before applicants receive their new cards, PR cards in Canada have a processing time that is dependent on whether the application is for an initial pr card or an upgraded pr card. “The current average wait time for a new PR card is about 4 months,” according to Julie Lafortune, a communications advisor with IRCC.

If your application is urgent (or you lost confirmation of permanent residence), you can contact IRCC pr card office in Canada directly to inquire about your pr card application status. Ensure to include your file number and date of birth when contacting immigration office using the webform. It is recommended to submit your PR card renewal application early if you plan to travel in the next 6 months or so.


Q. What is a PR Card?

Ans. The Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) is the official document to prove your status as a permanent resident in Canada.

It means you have the right to live indefinitely in Canada even if you don’t become a citizen.

After your application for permanent residency has been accepted, you should expect to receive a PR Card in about 45 days from that moment.

Q. How do You get a PR Card in Canada?

Ans. You get a Canadian PR Card when you apply for permanent residency and your application has been approved.

Once you become a permanent resident, the IRCC will mail your PR Card to the Canadian location you indicate during the application process.

Q. How long does it Take for a Canadian PR Card to be Processed?

Ans. Usually, it takes about 45 days after your PR status has been confirmed before you will receive the PR Card. A renewed card may take about 105 days to reach you.

Q. How you Check your Canadian PR Status?

Ans. You can check your Canadian PR status through any of these ways: Call IRCC at 1-888-242-2100, or check your status through the client portal on the IRCC website.

Q. Can I apply for PRTD while Away From Canada?

Ans. Yes. In fact, you can only apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) while you are away from Canada.

You can do this when you want to return to Canada but have not received a PR Card yet, or you lost the one you were granted, or it expired.