Carrying identification and traveling outside of Canada

Official documents that say who you are and where you come from are very important. Identity documents (ID) can be:

  • your health records
  • a birth certificate
  • a driver’s licence
  • a passport
  • a photocopy of your permanent resident papers
    • the original should be kept in a safe place or in a safety deposit box

You need these identity documents to:

  • apply for government services and benefits
  • get a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • get a health insurance card

You should have two pieces of ID with you at all times and at least one piece of ID with a photo.

You don’t need to carry your Confirmation of Permanent Residence form or your permanent resident card around with you.

Don’t lend your ID to your friends or let anyone else use them. You could lose your benefits.

If your identification is lost or stolen

You shouldn’t carry your birth certificate, SIN or passport with you unless you need them for a specific purpose. If they go missing, they’ll be difficult to replace.

Call the police to report ID that is lost or stolen. You should also contact any credit card companies or banks to cancel your cards in case someone tries to make purchases using your cards. There is a risk that someone could pretend to be you with your stolen ID.

If you can’t find your government-issued ID, you should contact the appropriate organization to report it lost or stolen and to ask for a replacement.

Identification for travel

Your permanent resident status lets you live in and move freely around Canada.

If you plan to travel outside Canada, you’ll need proof that you are a permanent resident to return here. The permanent resident card (PR card) is the official proof of your status in here. Apply for a PR card well before you plan to leave. See the processing times page for how long it usually takes to get your card.

Note: If you are a Canadian citizen who wants to travel outside Canada, you will need to get a Canadian passport. A citizenship certificate is not a travel document.

Keeping your permanent resident status when you travel

When you are a permanent resident, you can live outside of Canada, but must live in Canada for at least two years in a five-year period. If you live outside of Canada for longer, you may lose your permanent resident status.

For more information on how long you have to live in Canada, see Appendix A: Residency obligation of the PR card application package.

Check the expiration date on your PR card

If you plan to visit another country, bring your PR card and make sure it will not expire while you are outside Canada. However, there are steps you can take to return to Canada without a PR card.

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