Travel to Canada: you may still be a permanent resident of Canada and not know it

Permanent resident (PR) status does not expire. Even if you haven’t lived in Canada for many years, you could still be a PR. However, you need to prove your PR status to enter Canada. You usually do this by presenting a valid PR card at the border.

If you still have PR status, but don’t have a valid PR card, you have two options for travelling to Canada. You can either:

  • apply for a PR travel document (PRTD)
  • give up your PR status and then apply for an eTA or visa

Your best option depends on your situation and whether or not you still meet the residency obligation for a PR.

Plan ahead to avoid delays or getting stuck at the airport on your way here. Processing your application will take time. Wait until you have your PRTD, eTA or visa before you book your trip to Canada.

Apply for a PRTD

As a permanent resident, you can apply for a PRTD. If we approve your application, you can use your PRTD to travel to Canada. Once you are here, you can apply for a PR card.

Since we won’t know if you are eligible for a PRTD until we check your application, make sure you meet the residency obligation before you apply. To meet the residency obligation, you usually need to show that you have spent at least two of the last five years in Canada. However, there are some situations where time spent outside of Canada may also count.

Since processing times vary depending on the country you are applying from, do not plan your trip until you have your PRTD.

If we refuse your PRTD application, we will send you a letter explaining why. We will also explain your other options for travelling to Canada. You will have 60 days to appeal our decision. The letter will explain how to make an appeal.

If you decide to appeal, you will keep your PR status until a decision is made on your appeal. You can’t apply for another travel document while you wait for an appeal decision. If you don’t appeal, you will lose your PR status after the 60-day appeal period is over.

After you lose your status, you can apply for an eTA or visa to come to Canada.

Give up your status as a PR

To “renounce” means you choose to give up your status as a PR. You may want to renounce (give up) your PR status if you:

  • no longer meet the residency obligation to be a PR
  • don’t plan on living in Canada in the future
  • don’t want to keep your PR status

Once you renounce your status, you can apply for an eTA or visa.

You are not obligated to renounce your status.

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