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Can I Travel Out Of Canada While Waiting for PR Card?

Asking if one can travel while waiting for a PR Card is a common question among 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 do not have your PR Card with you.

What is a PR Card?

If you are new in Canada, you may wonder what the PR Card is and what it is used for. A PR Card is 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 allows its holder to travel outside Canada and re-enter the country without getting a new visa. If you are a student, worker, professional or young parent, knowing about the PR Card and how to apply for one is essential.

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. On the other hand, renewing your PR Card may take 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 a travel document; you must 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 to do if you need to travel out of Canada but your PR Card isn’t ready yet?

Suppose you know that your PR Card cannot be sent to a non-Canadian address or received by anyone else on your behalf. You should 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’ve traveled out of Canada while your PR Card is 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 lose your PR Card while you are out of the country.

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

All your family members (including children) are 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) 

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 must apply for the PRDT if they return to Canada by airplane, train, bus, or boat., and also, all persons who fall into the above categories must apply for PRTD, irrespective of age.

For example;

  • All family members returning to Canada without a PR must apply for the Permanent Resident Transport Document.
  • Children under 14 must have their application signed by one of their parents or legal guardian(s).
  • Those between 14 and 18 must sign their application document and have a parent or legal guardian sign it.

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 in Canada
  • Permanent residents who wish to renounce their permanent residence status voluntarily

Eligibility Requirements for the Canadian PRTD

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

The residency obligations are:

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

You must have been residing in Canada for at least 730 days for the past five years just before applying for PRTD.

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

You must prove that you can reside in Canada for a 730-day one-time stretch within your first five years of living in Canada as a permanent resident. The 730-day minimum residency obligation can also include days you accompany a Canadian citizen or permanent resident outside Canada.

However, if you are still a minor, this person must be a spouse, common-law partner, or parent. You can also include days when Canadian employment took you outside the country, and this could be a representative business trip or holding a position in the diaspora for a Canadian organization.

To include these periods in your 730 minimum day count, you must provide all required supporting documents to prove such journeys. While applying for PRTD, you will find a downloadable document checklist showing all documents you must submit, which are;

  • All the documents you submit should be photocopies and not originals.
  • You must also send an original, recent passport with your application.
  • If you cannot meet the residency obligation criteria, you may still be granted PRTD based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. 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 applying for PRTD, the process will take about two weeks to complete and the document granted to you, so you should factor this into 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 were away from Canada, your permanent resident status remains for some time. If you are returning with your private vehicle, you can return to Canada within that window without your PR Card.

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

This includes:

  1. A valid Canadian passport
  2. 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 drive 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 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. For example, some commercial airline carriers are stricter than others.

Some may request a Permanent Resident Card regularly; if that happens, you will not be allowed to board. Having your Permanent Resident Card or a Travel Document is always advisable when traveling outside of Canada.

If you must travel outside Canada and your PR Card expires, you should apply for an urgent PR card renewal.

PR Card Processing Time

Applicants can check their permanent resident card application status online via the IRCC website and 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 depends 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 four months,”

According to Julie Lafortune, a communications advisor with IRCC.

Suppose your application is urgent (or you lost confirmation of permanent residence). In that case, you can contact Canada’s IRCC PR card office directly to inquire about your pr card application status.

Include your file number and date of birth when contacting the immigration office using the web form. Submitting your PR card renewal application early if you plan to travel in the next six months or so is recommended.


What is a PR Card? 

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, and after accepting your permanent residency application, you should expect to receive a PR Card about 45 days from that moment.

How do You get a PR Card in Canada?

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.

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

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

How do you Check your Canadian PR Status?

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

Can I apply for PRTD while Away From Canada?

You can only apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) while 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.


It’s a common misperception that your eligibility for permanent residency is restricted if you still need to get your PR card. That is false, as your PR status is unaffected by PR cards. PR cards are basically identifying and travel credentials required to demonstrate to airlines that you are authorized to enter Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not mandate using PR cards.

You will remain a Permanent Resident after arriving, whether or not you have a PR card. Yet, there are other ways to lose your PR status, such as committing a major crime or failing to meet the residency requirements. While you can travel as you wait for your PR card, there are certain conditions you must meet. This article has answered all the questions about the topic.

Check out how to renew your Canada PR here.

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