Permanent Resident Card-Canada

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PR Card

The Permanent Residents card is a plastic credit card sized card that is issued to permanent residents. It has many high security features, holograms and an RFID chip. Below is the front of the new version of the card.


Landing in Canada

When you "land" in Canada and activate your permanent residence (PR) status, you have the option of applying for a PR card right there at your port of entry (POE). In order to do that, you need to be able to supply the Immigration Officer (IO) with a mailing address in Canada.

It's fine for this address to be the address of a friend or family member - it doesn't matter, as long as it's a Canadian address. The card is normally sent in the regular CanadaPost - not normally ' signed for (note that the address cannot be a PO box). Please see this link for the CIC guide to mailing first time PR card to friends etc. Operational Bulletin 491

If you don't have any address to use then you can still do the application, but will have to notify CIC within 180 days with a Canadian address to receive the card (using a specific form). If outside 180 days, then you must complete the full PR Card application pack.

Timescales for the issuance of a PR Card on landing are far quicker than applying for one at a later date. Check current processing times here: Current processing times. As at December 2018 this was 54 days for the initial PR card, but you should allow at least two weeks in addition for transit times. Even then, the turnaround times quoted are far from guaranteed and card have taken considerably longer than these published times to arrive.

You don't need to have any extra photos with you. CIC should be able to use the photos you provided in your PR application package. If they need new photos, either CIC will request them while they process your application, or the PR issuing office may request new photos at a later date.

Canadian address not yet available

If you do not yet have a mailing address in Canada, but if you have a relative or friend in Canada who is willing to forward your PR card to you, you can provide the address of the relative or friend.

If you do not have an address to which the PR card can be mailed, it does not matter. If you did not have an address in Canada when you applied for the PR card, but do before receiving it, you can input this new address on CIC's website here. (this can also be used, if you move after you gave your address to CIC with your application for a PR card.)

Again, PR cards cannot be sent to PO boxes.

Time window for free PR card

You have six months in which to supply an address to which a free PR card can be mailed.

If you apply for a PR card outside of the six month window during which you are entitled to a free card, you will need to pay a fee of $50 (and complete the full PR card application pack).

Outside of the six month window, you will need to pick up your new card in person at your local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) office. You will receive a notice in the mail telling you the card is ready to be collected.

What you need to know about eTAs, PR Cards, and PR Travel Documents

If you "landed" in Canada to activate your PR status, returned to the UK to settle up your affairs, and now are returning to Canada to live, but have not yet applied for or received a PR card, you are going to run into some problems.

From 15 March 2016, an eTA is required for anyone who enters Canada who is neither a Canadian citizen nor a Canadian PR. The scenarios below will hep you work out what you need to enter Canada.

eTAs are only required for border crossings at an airport, NOT border crossings by car. So you can avoid the eTA requirement if you are driving into Canada from the USA.

Scenario 1: I have a COPR document, but have not yet landed.

A COPR is adequate documentation to fly to Canada, and citizens of visa exempt countries do not require an eTA to travel if they possess a COPR. However, airlines who are concerned about any potentially refused traveler may object to boarding people who do not have an eTA, so the low cost of getting one could be a wise investment to save any hassle even if for just a single trip. IRCC FAQ "I have a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) and will travel to Canada. Do I need an eTA?"

Scenario 2: I have landed, but have not yet received my PR card.

You are not able to apply for an eTA because Canadian PRs are not allowed to apply for eTA. However, the airline will not board you without proof that you are a PR, and the only proof they will accept is either a PR card or a PR Travel Document (PRTD). So if you are landing in Canada without a PR Card, you have to apply for a PRTD: . Be sure to allow adequate time for processing!!!

Scenario 3: I have applied for but not yet received my PR card, can I travel outside of Canada without a PR card?

Scenario 2 covers the current muddle / conundrum around commercial flights and ETA's.

If you have landed and activated your CoPR (and so applied for your first PR card), but have not yet received your PR card, it is possible to travel by private vehicle to and from the USA via a land border, but you must take a copy of your COPR and present when returning to Canada.

The problem occurs if you travel over a land border using the train, ferry or bus, as you will need the PR card (or PRTD) as they are commercial carriers.

CIC Understand Permanent Residence Status

Scenario 4: I have landed and I have a PR card.

Just make sure you have the card with you and that it is still in date and you are good to go.

Note that many (most?) Canadian airports now have computer kiosks where you are expected to scan your passport and complete the customs declaration questions (the paper declarations are no longer widely used). If you have a PR Card, you are expected to scan the PR Card at these kiosks, NOT your passport. Scan the back of the card.

Renewal of PR card

In order to maintain your PR status, you have to accumulate 730 days (approximately 2 years) inside of Canada in a 5 year period (or 730 days living abroad with your Canadian spouse).

PR cards are valid for five years from the date they are issued.

Your PR card will have an expiry date on it, and that date is 5 years from the date the card was printed.

It is important to note, though, that the expiry date on the card is NOT the same as the deadline for your 5 years' residency requirement. The 5 year requirement for residency begins on the day that you land, NOT on the day that your card was printed.

For example, say you landed on 20 April 2014. Roughly two months later you receive your PR card with an expiry date of 15 June 2019. You have until 19 April 2019 to accumulate your 730 days inside Canada. The fact that the card is valid until 15 June 2019 is completely irrelevant to your residency requirement.

When your PR card expires (or is about to expire), you need to apply for a new one. When you apply for a new PR card, you have to demonstrate that you have met your PR residency obligations.

New PR cards have to becollected from your nearest CIC office. You will receive a notice in the mail telling you the card is ready to be collected.

More information