The permanent resident card (PR card) is the official proof of your status as a permanent resident in Canada. You need a PR card if you are a permanent resident planning on travelling outside of Canada and returning to Canada by a plane, train, boat or bus.
To be eligible for a PR card, you must:
- Be a permanent resident of Canada, but not a Canadian citizen
- Have been physically present in Canada for a minimum of 730 days within the past 5 years
- Not be under an effective removal order and not be convicted of an offense related to the misuse of a PR card
How to Apply for a PR Card
To apply for a PR card, you need the following:
- A mailing address. If you did not provide a mailing address when you became a permanent resident, you need to send to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) your address through IRCC’s online tool within 180 days after becoming a permanent resident
- Application for PR card (IMM 5444), fully completed and signed
- Document checklist (IMM 5644) with each box checked
- Photocopy of your ID which can be your valid passport, travel document or the certificate of identity issued by the IRCC or a foreign country. The copy should show the document type and number, issue and expiry date, your name, photo, and date of birth
- Two identical photos taken within 6 months of the date of the application. Photos should be placed in a small envelope with no staples or paper clips, with the name of the applicant on the envelope. The photos should meet the Photograph Specifications
- For children under the age of 18: a birth certificate, a photocopy of school records, legal documentation issued by a Canadian court which proves guardianship or adoption order (if the child has a guardian or adoptive parents)
- English or French translations of all documents (that must not be done by the applicants themselves nor by their relatives)
- Affidavit from the person who completed the translation. An affidavit is a document on which the translator has sworn that his translation is a true representation of the contents of original documents. Translators who are certified in Canada do not need to supply an affidavit
- Certified copies of the original translated documents
- A copy of the receipt (IMM 5401) for the processing fee showing the amount paid. PR card fees are C$50 per applicant. You must pay your fees online. To do this, you will need a valid email address, credit card or Canadian debit card, and access to a printer as you have to print the receipt. You must pay processing fees each time you renew or replace your card
If you were outside Canada for 1095 days or more in the past 5 years, also provide these documents:
- If you were accompanying a family member who is a Canadian citizen: proof of his citizenship, proof of your relationship to this person, proof that he was outside Canada with you
- If you were outside Canada working for a Canadian business or public service: proof that the company has a Canadian head office, proof of your full-time job and whether you will be working for that company when you return to Canada
- If you were accompanying a permanent resident of Canada working for a Canadian business abroad: proof of your relationship to this person, proof of his full-time job, proof of his permanent resident status
If you renew or replace your card, include the original of your current card and a photocopy of it with your application.
If you legally changed your name, you need to apply for a new PR card to change the name on your card. Make sure you include documents that support the change of your name: a court order, adoption order, marriage certificate or a divorce decree with your new name.
You need to mail your application with all required documents in a stamped envelope to one of the addresses below:
- To send the application by regular mail:
Case Processing Centre — PR Card
P. O. Box 10020
SYDNEY, NS B1P 7C1
- To send the application by courier:
Case Processing Centre — PR Card
49 Dorchester Street
Processing Time and Validity
If you are in Canada or the US, you can check your application status online. If you are in another country, you can contact the Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate.
The standard processing time from when an application is received to when the Case Processing Centre makes a decision is 13–14 days. However, many people have found that it can take 45–70 days or even several months to get a PR card. If you do not receive your PR card within 6 weeks of giving IRCC your Canadian address, you should let IRCC know.
If you provided a mailing address in Canada, the Case Processing Centre will send you an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AoR) of your application, and you will get your PR card in the mail. If you have no mailing address in Canada, you will receive a letter telling you when and where to pick up your card in person at one of IRCC offices. In this case, you must bring the original documents of the photocopies you included with your application.
If your PR card is expired or will expire in less than 9 months, you can apply for a new card. The standard processing time to renew or replace a PR card is 27 days.
A PR card is usually issued for 5 years, but can sometimes be issued for one year instead. It is valid until the expiry date listed on the card.
How to Use a PR Card
You may need a PR card to get some services in your province or territory. For instance, you need a PR card to get a health card that is useful for getting medical services.
You can use your PR Card as an ID along with a driver’s license, passport, employee identification, and other documents that contain your name, date of birth, and photo.
A PR card is a way of proving status to authorities within Canada (e. g., provincial governments, schools, employers). However, there is no legal requirement for a permanent resident to carry a PR card all the time.
The PR card is also a travel document. You should generally wait until you have received your PR card before travelling outside Canada. And you are responsible to ensure that your PR card is still valid when you return from abroad and to apply for a new PR card when your current card expires.
The important thing is that when you are coming back to Canada from abroad, you may not be able to board without a valid PR card, and you must carry and present it when boarding a flight, train, boat or bus to Canada. That is why it is recommended to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as you are eligible. The case in point is Dutch-born Cornelis Ruijter who has lived as a permanent resident in Canada for almost 60 years and has never bothered becoming a Canadian citizen. In November 2018, during a trip in Europe, his PR card and his Netherlands passport were stolen, and Cornelis Ruijter stranded in Europe for 5 weeks waiting for his new PR card to be issued.
Canadian permanent residents also need a PR card to be able to travel visa-free to certain countries (unless they are already exempt). Canadian PR card holders may travel visa-free to several countries including Cuba, Dutch Caribbean territories, Georgia, Mexico, and some other countries and territories.
Keep in mind that as a permanent resident, you must pay taxes, and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Also, you and your dependent family members have the right to:
- Get most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage
- Live, work and study anywhere in Canada
- Apply for Canadian citizenship if you lived in Canada 3 years out of the last 5 years
- Be protected under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms