Can you travel to Canada with a missing or expired PR card?

You receive a PR card when you become a permanent resident (PR) of Canada. Of course, the card confirms your status in Canada. Moreover, the PR card allows you to board an airplane to travel to Canada. This document is the most important document to prove you have the right to enter Canada at the port of entry. However, what happens if you have lost your PR card. What if somebody robs you of the card or your card has passed its expiration date? Can you still travel to Canada with a missing or expired PR card?

What does prove the PR status in Canada?

Subject to residency obligations and admissibility, a permanent resident has the right to enter Canada. PRs also have the right to live and work anywhere in Canada. However, you have to verify you are a PR to enjoy these rights. When you become a permanent resident, IRCC issues you a COPR or an eCOPR. However, the primary document to prove your status is a PR card.

PR cards have expiry dates because you have to meet the residency obligations. Other than that, sometimes you become a Canadian citizen, and you don’t need your PR card anymore. However, remember that the expiry of a PR card does not mean you are not a PR anymore. Also, you may lose your PR status despite holding a valid PR card. So, what is the ultimate source of proving your status? The simple answer is your Global Case Management System (GCMS) history. Of course, you do not have access to your records directly. However, a CBSA or an IRCC officer could refer to GCMS and verify your status.

Why do I need a valid PR document, though?

You need a valid PR card for the following purposes:

  • Travel to Canada by air and convince the airline to board the plane.
  • Confirm your identity and status at the port of entry. However, the ultimate proof is your GCMS records.
  • Verify your PR status in other circumstances (e.g. when applying for a SIN).

As you can see, a lost or expired PR card cannot help you much. Nonetheless, you could apply for a PRTD when you are outside Canada. This document allows you to travel once to Canada without a valid or existing PR card. However, you must later apply for a new card while inside Canada. Also, if you lose your PR card inside Canada, you could request a new one.

What if I do not have a valid PR card?

As I mentioned earlier, if you do not have a valid PR card, you could take one of the following actions:

  • Outside Canada: Apply for a PRTD.
  • Inside Canada: Apply for a new PR card.

However, sometimes you are outside Canada, and you have lost your PR card, or your card is expired. Also, you do not have time to apply for a PRTD. Is there an alternative? Yes, there is, however, not to everyone. You may travel to the US. You may then travel to Canada by private car. Permanent residents who cross US-Canada land crossings may enter Canada without a valid PR card. Nonetheless, they must prove they have status. Some of the documents that could help include the following:

  • A copy of your landing paper or COPR
  • Official identity documents such as your passport that corroborate with your claim
  • Documents showing you have already applied for a PR card (if applicable)
  • Any document that shows you live in Canada, such as
    • A provincial driver’s licence
    • Bank statements or credit card statements
    • Property lease agreements
    • Cell phone and hydro statements, or other similar bills
    • Support letters from family members or friends who live in Canada
  • Police reports or other documents verifying the card is being stolen (if applicable)
  • Documents showing you have to be in Canada (e.g. a court subpoena).

This list is neither inclusive nor exclusive. Of course, the ultimate decision-maker is the officer. They compare your documents with your immigration records. However, they will allow you to enter Canada only if they believe you are a permanent resident of Canada.

Don’t forget: you may only travel to the US if you have proper permissions (e.g., a valid visa or a Green Card). Therefore, without travelling to the US, this scheme won’t work.

Dealing with a lost, expired or stolen PR card? We could help!

If you intend to travel to Canada but have lost your PR card or expired, fill out the following form. Alternatively, please book a consultation session with me. Of course, you may fill out our assessment form for immigration purposes.

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    Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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