Identifications for Permanent Residents (18:VI)

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

Unlike other countries, Canada does not issue national identification cards to its residents. Instead, all new permanent residents are issued a Permanent Resident Card since June 28, 2002. The Permanent Resident Card is proof of the individual’s status in Canada as a permanent resident and it is required when travelling to Canada by commercial carrier or commercial airline. In general, a permanent resident of Canada cannot return to Canada by commercial carrier or commercial airline without their Permanent Resident Card. Accordingly, in order for a permanent resident without a valid Permanent Resident Card to return to Canada, they would need to apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document.

A. Permanent Resident Cards

According to IRP Regulations s. 53(1), the Permanent Resident Card (“PR Card”) is a document that indicates the holder’s permanent residence status in Canada. In general, the PR Card is valid for five years from the date of issue. In order to maintain the permanent resident status, an individual would need to comply with the residency obligation under IRPA s. 28. For more information, see the Residency Obligation section below.

When a permanent resident becomes a citizen of Canada, they must return the PR Card to IRCC at the citizenship ceremony.

A permanent resident should only apply for a PR Card in one of the following situations:

  • their PR Card has expired or will expire in less than 9 months;
  • their PR Card is lost, stolen, or destroyed;
  • they did not receive their PR Card within 180 days of immigrating to Canada; or
  • they need to update the PR Card to legally change their name, change their citizenship, change their gender designation, or correct their date of birth.

If a permanent resident finds a mistake on their PR Card, they can request IRCC to issue a new PR Card. Please note shortening a long name to fit the PR card is not considered as a mistake.

For more information about the application process, please see the IRCC website.

NOTE: A permanent resident without a valid PR Card is still a permanent resident, so their legal status in Canada will not necessary change as the card expires.

NOTE: New permanent residents are not required to apply for a PR Card upon arriving in Canada. This is because IRCC will automatically send a PR Card to the new permanent resident if they provide IRCC with their mailing address in Canada.

B. Permanent Resident Travel Document ("PRTD")

A PRTD is a document that permanent residents can use to re-enter Canada when they do not possess a PR Card, as their PR Cards may be expired when they are outside of Canada. A PRTD is normally only valid for one single entry. Accordingly, permanent residents should apply for a new PR Card as soon as they return to Canada. Please note in order to apply for a new PR Card, the permanent resident must demonstrate they meet the residency obligation under IRPA s. 28. For more information, see the Residency Obligation section below.

Please note a permanent resident can only apply for a PRTD when they do not have a valid PR Card, are outside of Canada, and will return to Canada by airplane, boat, train or bus.

The PRTD application is submitted outside of Canada at a Visa Application Centre (“VAC”). During the COVID-19 pandemic, the permanent resident could submit the PRTD application by email. See instructions below:

1. Submit a scanned PRT application (see below) and a copy of the permanent resident’s passport bio-data page to The subject line should read as “PRTD application: (legal name);

2. Scan a copy of the required documents listed in the Document Checklist (IMM5627);

3. Complete and scan the Application for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (IMM5524);

4. Pay the processing fee ($50) and provide a copy of the receipt; and

5. Provide a copy of the confirmed flight ticket/itinerary for travel to Canada that clearly shows the flight number, date of travel, and arrival airport in Canada, if this information is available.

When a permanent resident applies for PRTD through a VAC, a VAC agent will review the application package to ensure the application package is complete and has all the documents specified in the above document checklist. Further, an immigration officer will then assess the PRTD application to determine whether or not the permanent resident met the residency obligation. In some cases, a permanent resident may be required to attend an in-person interview.

For more information about the application process, please see the IRCC website.

NOTE: In limited circumstances, a permanent resident can request for urgent processing of their PR Card. See the IRCC website for more information.

NOTE: The current application fee is $50 for a PR card or a PRTD.

C. Other Identifications

As mentioned from above, a permanent resident requires a PR card or PRTD to re-enter Canada by commercial vehicle, such as airplane, bus, train, or boat. However, a permanent resident may enter Canada with other identifications when they travel by private vehicle. Those identifications include Enhanced Driver’s License issued by a Canadian province or territory, Enhanced Identification/Photo Card issued by a Canadian province or territory, and Confirmation of Permanent Residence Document.

For more information, please refer to the website of Canada Border Services Agency.

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