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Is it Possible to Travel Before Receiving My Canadian PR Card?

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After applying for permanent residence (PR) and obtaining a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR), individuals must undergo a landing process and get a PR card to finalize their status as confirmed permanent residents of Canada.

Landings can occur in two ways. As part of a comprehensive immigration to Canada, where new PRs and their dependents arrive fully prepared to settle in the country. Or as “soft landings,” where new PRs simply enter Canada to complete the process of acquiring their status and receive their initial PR card.

In both scenarios, there may be instances when new PRs need to travel before obtaining their PR card. While new permanent residents can travel before receiving their PR card, the process is more intricate than a straightforward return to Canada. This article will outline the steps newcomers can take in such situations.

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What is a Permanent Resident (PR) Card?

Before delving into recommended practices, it’s essential to clarify the nature and function of a PR Card.

A PR Card is an identification document issued by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Introduced in 2002, it confirms status documents in Canada. Offering an alternative to traditional printed identity documents.

Upon approval as a new permanent resident, individuals receive a PR visa, enabling them to travel to Canada. While PR visas facilitate travel, PR cards serve as the means for permanent residents to enter and reside freely in Canada, confirming their PR status.

Notably, new permanent residents won’t require their PR card during their initial entry into Canada. Instead, they should present their PR visa (if applicable), a valid passport, confirmation of permanent residence (COPR/e-COPR), and a valid medical test result (if necessary).

Significantly, new permanent residents do not need to apply for their first PR card. It will be delivered by mail to the address provided to the border officer upon entry or within the 180 days required to report an address in Canada.

How to Handle Travel Plans Before Receiving Your PR Card

It’s crucial to emphasize that the Canadian government does not dispatch PR cards to addresses outside of Canada. And third parties are prohibited from accepting PR cards on behalf of new permanent residents. Consequently, if a new permanent resident outside Canada needs a valid PR card, they must apply for a Permanent Residence Travel Document (PRTD).

A PRTD is a travel document typically valid for a single use, allowing permanent residents to re-enter Canada. This document is applicable if:

  • The individual is a permanent resident.
  • They are currently outside of Canada.
  • They intend to return to Canada via air, boat, bus, or train.
  • They do not have a valid PR card displaying their status.


It’s important to note that if a new permanent resident returns to Canada using a private vehicle, alternative acceptable documents are available to prove their identity and status.

How to Request a PRTD (Permanent Resident Travel Document)

PRTDs can only be requested from outside of Canada. To initiate a PRTD application, new permanent residents must obtain the application package, complete all relevant forms, and gather the required supporting documentation. Application fees are associated and must be paid online.

Submitting a paper application may not be possible; there may be other options, depending on the  In such instances, if applicants opt for online submission, they must use the permanent residence portal to submit both the application and supporting documents. For paper applications, permanent residents should send their requests to the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC). The application method and the applicant’s location can impact the processing time for receiving the PRTD.

After applying, permanent residents may also need to attend an interview with a VAC agent before making a decision.

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