To be on safe side you should wait to get your PR card while you are inside Canada, but if you have already traveled there are ways to enter in Canada.
Canada, Immigration

Can I Leave Canada While Waiting for Permanent Residence Card?

The common question we do hear a lot is that one needs to leave Canada, and they do not have a permanent resident card. Can they later return to Canada without a PR card? The simple answer to this question is that “it depends on the medium of travel you are using to enter Canada”

Are you a Newcomer to Canada?

If you provided an address in Canada to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), but you left before the card was issued, you can ask family or friends who live at that address to give you the PR card. With your PR Card, you can then re-enter Canada. You are, however, taking a risk if you do so.

Options to Enter Canada without a PR Card

Regardless, you are a newcomer to Canada or living as a permanent resident for many years. The present delays should not hamper your ability to travel outside of Canada in acquiring your Permanent Resident card. Without a PR card, you have three options for travelling outside of Canada.

1. Take a private vehicle across the land border with the United States.

Without a PR card, you can arrange a return trip to the United States near the Canadian border and return to Canada in a private vehicle from a land port of entry. Vehicles that are not available for public use are known as private vehicles. An example is a car, SUV, truck, motorcycle, or recreational vehicle that you own, borrow, or rent. A coach bus carrying other passengers is not an example of a private vehicle. Other identification documents, such as your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document, driver’s license, health care card, social insurance number document, vehicle registration, and so on, will be required to confirm your identity to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). We suggest having several forms of identification on hand to confirm your identity at the border.

2. The citizens of the US can travel to Canada using their passports

If you are a US citizen and a Permanent Resident of Canada, you can enter and exit the country using your valid US passport. Even so, it’s a good idea to keep your COPR certificate on hand just in case.

3. From outside Canada, apply for a PRTD

If you don’t qualify for the first two alternatives, you can apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD). A PRTD is a document applied at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or an Embassy to authenticate your Permanent Resident status and allow you to return to Canada without showing your PR card.

PRTD applications must be submitted from outside Canada, which means you cannot apply for one before leaving the country. 

Eligibility Criteria for PRTD

To be qualified for a PRTD, you must demonstrate that you fulfil or will meet the residency requirement in your application.

  • If you have been on a PR status for five (5) years or more, you should have spent at least 730 days physically present in Canada during the five (5) years immediately preceding your application for a PRTD.
  • If you have been on a PR status for less than five (5) years, you must demonstrate that you will be able to complete the required 730 days of physical presence in Canada within five (5) years of your arrival.
  • For humanitarian and compassionate reasons, you may still be awarded a PRTD if you do not or cannot meet the residency requirement.

Important Note: This is a one-time-use Travel Document. The officer at the visa office will decide whether or not you will be granted it.

PRTD fee and Processing Time

The IRCC requires a PRTD application fee of $50. Your local VAC may impose additional fees if you apply in person. The IRCC website does not provide an average processing time for PRTDs. However, they are often handled within two weeks, depending on the country and volume of applications.

Pro Tips

  • If you know your card may expire while you’re on the road, make sure you renew it before you go.
  • You can only renew your card from inside Canada.
  • PR cards are not transmitted or mailed to addresses outside of Canada,
  • IRCC does not authorize third parties to obtain PR cards on your behalf.