Understand permanent resident status

Permanent residents (PRs) of Canada must carry and present their valid PR card or permanent resident travel document (PRTD) when boarding a flight to Canada, or travelling to Canada on any other commercial carrier. If you do not carry your PR card or PRTD, you may not be able to board your flight, train, bus or boat to Canada.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your PR card is still valid when you return from travel outside Canada, and to apply for a new PR card when your current card expires. If your PR card expires, it does not mean you have lost permanent resident status.

A permanent resident (PR) is someone who has been given PR status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. PRs are usually citizens of other countries, while some may be stateless persons.

When refugees resettle in Canada from overseas, they become PRs through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

If you make a refugee claim in Canada, you don’t become a PR immediately. To become one, the Immigration and Refugee Board must first approve your claim. Then, you must apply for and obtain PR status.

You’re not a PR if you’re only in Canada for a short time (for example, as a student or foreign worker).

The permanent resident (PR) card

Your PR card proves that you have PR status in Canada. If you travel outside Canada and return on a commercial vehicle (like an airplane, boat, train or bus), you must show

  • your PR card and
  • your passport or refugee travel document

If you’re traveling outside Canada without a valid PR card with you, apply for a permanent resident travel document (PRTD) before returning to Canada by commercial vehicle.

If your PR card was lost, stolen or damaged, apply for a replacement PR card.

How to properly dispose of your expired PR card

Destroy your old PR card by cutting it in half before disposing of it so you protect your information and privacy.

What permanent residents can do

As a PR, you

  • get most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including a social insurance number to work in Canada, and health care coverage (check your provincial website for more information)
  • can live, work or study anywhere in Canada
  • can apply for Canadian citizenship
  • get protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • must pay taxes and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels

What permanent residents cannot do

You’re not allowed to

  • vote or run for political office or
  • hold some jobs that need a high-level security clearance

Time lived in Canada

To keep your PR status, you must have been in Canada for at least 730 days during the last five years. These 730 days don’t need to be continuous. Some of your time outside Canada may count towards the 730 days you need.

Losing your permanent resident status

You won’t lose your PR status when your PR card expires.

You will only lose your PR status if

  • an officer determines you are no longer a PR after an inquiry or PRTD appeal following a refusal
  • you voluntarily renounce your PR status
  • a removal order made against you comes into force
  • you become a Canadian citizen

Even if you don't meet the residency obligation, you will stay a PR until an official decision is made on your status.

Voluntarily giving up (renouncing) permanent resident status

We won’t change your PR status automatically and we’ll always inform you of the change.

In some cases, you may decide you don’t want to be a PR of Canada anymore. For example, you may want to renounce your PR status in the following situations:

  • You have not met your residency obligations by being outside of Canada for a long period of time.
  • You plan to visit Canada and want to avoid the processing delays from a formal assessment of your PR status when you arrive.

In these cases, you may not be able to enter Canada until your PR status is resolved either by applying for a PRTD or by voluntarily giving up (renouncing) your PR status.

Find out how to voluntarily renounce your permanent resident status.


Access museums, parks and other cultural sites across Canada

The Canoo app provides access to many cultural sites and events across Canada. As a new permanent resident, you can get a free 1-year membership.

Learn more about the Canoo mobile app(opens in a new tab) 

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