Landing as PR-Canada
Once you have your permanent residence visa, you officially can "land" and activate your permanent resident (PR) status. You need to land on or before the expiry date on your COPR. The date on the COPR should be either the expiry date on your passport, or one year from when you did your medicals, whichever is sooner.
When am I 'officially' a Permanent Resident
You are a Permanent Resident only when you have landed and successfully declared PR either at the Canadian border, or by 'landing' in a CIC / IRCC office in Canada. If you were sponsored, the sponsors responsibilities for you start only at this time. You are NOT PR when you received your CoPR. Note that any changes in your relationship up to the point that you actually successfully land MUST be reported to CIC (e.g. divorce etc.).
Visiting Canada but not "landing"
If you want to go to Canada on a recce trip, but do not want to activate your PR status, that's okay. Just tell the immigration officer at your Canadian port of entry that you have a PR visa but do not yet want to land.
Be sure you are still able to land before your expiry date - there is nothing wrong with landing and then leaving if you aren't ready to actually move yet. Keep reading for more information on this.
eTAs and Landing
CIC has published this on their website regarding COPR and eTAs: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=1184&top=16
According to them, no, you do not need an eTA if you are from a visa-exempt country and have your COPR in hand.
That said, some airlines may give you issues about it since many airlines and check-in clerks etc. may not know what a COPR even is. So you would save yourself a lot of hassle to just shell out the $7 for an eTA so that the airline doesn't give you any grief.
If you had an ETA before your CoPR was issued, you should check the status of that ETA Here shortly before you travel to Canada. In some / many instances, pre-existing ETA's have been cancelled by CIC up to several weeks after the issue of the CoPR - it seems to be a bit hit-and-miss as to whether or when pre-existing ETAs are cancelled.
If you are landing in Canada at a road border then an eTA is not required.
Passport renewed since CoPR issued
If you have renewed your passport after the CoPR was issued, then the passport number on your CoPR will not be the passport you are travelling on. This is NOT a problem and you do NOT have to advise CIC and ask for a new CoPR. Just take your old passport with you and point out to the CBSA that processes your landing that you are now travelling on a newer passport than listed on the CoPR. Canada does NOT have the 'valid for at least 6 months' passport rule that is common in the UK.
This describes the normal sequence of events and 'who does what and why' when you land to declare PR.
Note that you MUST 'land' and declare PR at the first Canadian port / airport you land at, regardless of whether you are then going on to transfer to another flight for your final Canadian destination. For example, if you are flying from Paris to Halifax with a connection in Toronto, you MUST land to declare PR in Toronto. The reason is that on an international flight into Canada, you will arrive at an international terminal with the required CBSA facilities to process your landing. On an internal Canadian flight, there will not be such facilities.
If you have a connecting flight, make sure you have allowed enough time to be processed for PR before the next leg of your flight. Although steps 2 and 3 described below only take a total of 20 / 30 minutes (provided you are properly prepared and have a properly formatted 'goods to follow' list etc.), the problem is the number of people in the line ahead of you, which at the busy airports (Toronto and Vancouver) can be considerable. People have reported it taking as long as 4 - 5 hours. Arrange the gap between your connecting flights accordingly.
You must tell the CBSA agent who you hand your kiosk card and passport to specifically that you want to land to declare permanent residence. They do not know what you want to do unless you tell them. Some people have made the mistake of simply assuming that the CBSA somehow automatically know what you want to do and land you - they will not.
You can also land at an airport in Quebec (e.g. Montreal) even if your final destination is not in QC. You just need to be able to show that you are not planning QC as your final destination (unless of course you specifically applied for QC).
1. Complete customs declaration
These are the customs declaration cards that used to be those paper forms that were handed out on the plane before you landed. At most (all?) international Canadian airports these have now been replaced with computer kiosks. The precise design of the kiosks may vary slightly between airports, but they all fulfil the same function.
If you are travelling as a couple / family, you can all make a single declaration at the same kiosk. Select your preferred language, scan your passports then answer the questions on screen. The kiosk will then take photos of each traveller in turn (just follow the instructions on screen). At the end, it will generate a printout that you must take with you to present to the CBSA officer.
One of the questions is something like 'are you a Canadian citizen or permanent resident'. Note that if you are landing to declare permanent residence (i.e. you want to 'activate' your CoPR), that you are not yet a permanent resident, so you will need to answer 'No' to this question.
You can make life a little easier for yourself if you download the CBSA 'app' (search for 'edeclaration') and install it on your cellphone in advance. You can pre-answer all of the questions and save a QR code for up to 24 hours. When you arrive at the kiosk, before you do anything else, place the phone on the scanner face down with the QR code showing. You still have to go through the screens in sequence, it just save you answering the questions as your earlier answers are already populated.
Official link for CanBorder app: [CanBorder eDeclaration app]
Hand the printed customs declaration to the CBSA Officer and SPECIFICALLY AND CLEARLY tell them that you now want to land to declare permanent residence. They will direct you to a different (aka 'secondary') line. If they do not do this or look at your CoPR and stamp it, you have NOT landed. Explain again to the CBSA agent that you are landing to declare permanent residence.
2. Declare PR
At this line you will 'activate' your CoPR and declare PR.
A CBSA officer (acting on behalf of CIC) will ask for your CoPR and ask a couple of very simple questions that you will already have answered in your original pack. They will ask for the address in Canada that they should send the PR Card to. If you have one, great, they will start the process for the issue of your PR Card - note that this can take 2 - 4 months to arrive. If not, you will have 180 days to supply this. They will hand you the copy of your CoPR suitably stamped. DO NOT LOSE THIS!
When finished, they will ask if you have any goods accompanying / [Goods to Follow]. If your do and IF you are also 'landing as a settler' (i.e. NOT a 'soft landing'), then you will be directed to another CBSA officer. If you are not asked for this list, you can still provide it at any CBSA facility (eg your nearest international airport) - you may wish to do this soon after landing to demonstrate good faith if you are appearing landside at another airport in Canada after you have become a PR.
3. Validate good accompanying / goods to follow
This step is only required if you are also landing as a settler (i.e. not doing a 'soft landing') at the same time as declaring PR.
If you are also 'landing as a settler', then hand the CBSA officer your list of goods accompanying / goods to follow. They will put these on an official form (usually by simply stapling your list to it), sign and stamp it and return a copy to you. You must keep this stamped copy as you will need to show it when you go to clear your goods to follow from customs.
If you are only doing a 'soft landing' (i.e. NOT also 'landing as settler' on this trip), then you skip this step.
4. Collect baggage / proceed to ongoing connection
Collect your checked baggage from the baggage hall, or follow the signs for your connecting flight if this is not your final destination airport.
5. Go to arrivals!
Once you have all your checked baggage, proceed to the signposted exit and hand your printed customs declaration to the CBSA at the exit of the baggage hall.
That's it - welcome to Canada!
Landing in Canada and returning to UK
You are allowed to land in Canada, activate your PR status, and return to the UK immediately -- even on the next plane back if that's how you want to handle it. This is sometimes referred to unofficially as either a flagpole trip or a 'soft landing'.
If you want to maintain your PR status in Canada, however, you must meet your Residency Obligation.
That is, you must spend a cumulative two years (730 days) out of any five year period in Canada.
The clock starts ticking on the date of your landing and the activiation of your PR status.
With regard to the PR Card, please refer to this link: PR Card
You should not get a provincial driver's licence or register with the relevant health care insurance plan during your landing trip. Both require an accurate residential address, and depending on the Province may require proof of residence in the province (e.g., residential lease agreement, offer to purchase property, etc.).
Although it's not essential to do so during your landing trip, you could apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) if you wanted to do so. SIN cards are no longer issued, and you will get a printout of your SIN on a piece of paper within a few minutes. Be sure not to lose this number - maybe take a photo of it on your phone immediately! It also would be okay to delay applying for your SIN until you'd returned to Canada to settle.
Multiple family members landing
All the members of a migrating family are permitted to "land" in Canada and activate their permanent resident status at the same time. The family members also are allowed to land at different times. If family members land at different times, the principal applicant must land first. The accompanying dependents are not permitted to land before the principal applicant.
Landing with a 'renewed' passport
If you are landing on a renewed passport (i.e. a later passport than the one you used to get your CoPR) that is fine, just make sure to take both the original and the new passport with you and present this with your CoPR on landing and explain that you renewed your passport.
Landing in a different city or province
If you are landing under a federal immigration programme (e.g. spousal sponsorship, express entry etc.), then it is perfectly acceptable to land and declare PR / activate your CoPR in a different city or province from that you may have declared on your original paperwork. It MAY be ok to land in Quebec then live elsewhere, but in QC you may be asked if you plan to settle in QC as you should not do so immediately if you didn't declare QC as your destination province in your original paperwork (as QC have additional forms and processes for people who wish to settle in QC).
I you are a Provincial Nominee, you would need to show you have onward travel plans to the Nominating Province. For example, if you flew in and did your "Landing" in Toronto but Saskatchewan was your Nominating Province you would need to show you had an onward flight booked to Saskatchewan.
Landing and staying in Canada
Welcome to Canada! You can go ahead and carry out the chores listed in the BE Wiki article called Arrival To Do List-Canada.
Goods to Follow
Your Goods to Follow list is a very important one - it's what allows you to import all your possessions into Canada without paying import duties or taxes.
If you are landing and staying permanently (i.e. BOTH 'landing to declare PR' AND ALSO 'landing as settler'), then absolutely ensure you have your Goods Accompanying and Goods to Follow lists ready.
If you are only landing and then returning to the UK, then you do not need to have a Goods to Follow on your landing trip; you can present it on your later trip when you establish residency (i.e. when you 'land as settler') - you must of course tell the CBSA officer at the second landing that you are 'landing as settler and have goods to follow lists to be verified'. HOWEVER, some CBSA officers seem unaware that a person can 'land to declare PR' on one trip, then later 'land as a settler' and declare good on a later trip, so they may insist (incorrectly!) that you submit your Goods to Follow list at the same time as you land as PR. The 'official word' that 'landing as a settler' is different from an immigration landing (i.e. landing to declare PR) is here (see item no 9 about 1/3rd of the way down the 'page'):
Difference between customs and immigration status
For further reading about the Goods to Follow list, including examples of lists, read the Goods To Follow article.
The inverse problem to the above is when CBSA officers simply fulfill the immigration procedure, and do not ask about customs effects, which seems to happen fairly frequently particularly at Vancouver. If this happens to you, you can still provide your Goods to Follow list at another CBSA facility - go along to your nearest airport/border soon after you arrive and explain that the officers failed to land you properly and provide your list. The officers at the second location can confirm that you did not provide a GTFL at your landing, and process it to give you the tax-free imports later (and you'll probably get to hear some choice mumbling about their colleagues at your first airport).
Keep in mind that the principal applicant must arrive in Canada before your goods. If your possessions arrive in Canada before you do, they must be stored in a bonded warehouse until you reach Canada and get customs clearance for them.
If a CBSA agent incorrectly tells you on your second landing where you 'land as settler' and ask for your GTA / GTF lists to be validated that you are now too late and should have had all that done when you first landed (or within 12 months), then quite simply they are mistaken. Ask to speak to their Supervisor and point out the provisions as regards the difference between customs and settling status in the official link above - ideally (but not essential) get the names of the CBSA officer involved as there is clearly a training issue. If they also insist it is too late, complain using the official CBSA on-line complaints form here. Use wording along the lines of:
I was entering Canada on X date at X place. I informed the officer that I was becoming a Permanent Resident but not establishing a residence. According to D2-2-1 paragraph 10 I cannot be treated as a settler under tariff item 9807.00.00 and therefore no goods to follow list is required at time of entry and any goods in my possession are to be treated as visitors goods under tariff 9803.00.00. It was my intention to establish a residence at a later date but the officer told me that I should have done the Goods To Follow List within 12 months. If a person is allowed to do a landing as a PR and can return home for nearly 3 years then how is it possible to supply such a list when you would be buying and accumulating goods which would still qualify under tariff item 9807.00.00
This has been successfully done before and the person concerned received an apology within 24 hours and was asked to attend a stated CBSA office to have their lists verified and registered.
A few posts where people have posted their experiences landing:
- Returning Canadian citizen, landing at Pearson Airport: http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/landing-experience-pearson-returning-resident-817081/
- Family class, landing at Ottawa Airport: http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/landed-pr-ottawa-airport-895318/
- Family class, landing at Peace Bridge, Fort Erie: http://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/thread-for-outland-london-uk-applications-t49436.0.html;msg4191514#msg4191514
- Family class, landing at Pearson Airport (T1): http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/landed-our-experiences-landing-common-law-yyz-781986/
- Family class, landing at Pearson Airport (T3): http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/questions-landing-pearson-871303/#post11860222 and http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/timeline-spousal-sponsorship-via-london-642032/page963/#post12172276
- FSW, landing at Vancouver Airport: http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/our-landing-experience-vancouver-yvr-26th-feb-2013-a-789108/
- PNP, landing at Pearson Airport: http://britishexpats.com/forum/canada-56/toronto-pearson-landing-experience-copr-795266/
- Family class, both PR and returning Canadian landing at PE Trudeau Airport: http://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/thread-for-outland-london-uk-applications-t49436.0.html;msg4505529#msg4505529
- CIC instructions to CBSA officers for processing CoPR's on landing here
- There are many relevant articles in the Moving Logistics section of the BE Wiki.
- See wiki article on 'flagpoling' here: