Permanent Resident Cards: How to Renew and What to Do Outside Canada


A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.
Permanent Resident Card

Did you know that Canada is aiming to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021? The federal government of Canada can do this by launching 6 new permanent residency streams for international student graduates and essential workers. They also have Express Entry draws throughout the year for applications with Canadian work experience.

If you are a permanent resident and you’re considering traveling outside Canada, there are some things you need to be aware of. In most cases, you’ll need valid permanent resident (PR) card to return to Canada.

Before you travel, you should check to ensure that your permanent resident card is valid and consider renewing if it is close its’ expiry date. Keep on reading for everything you need to know on how to renew your card and what happens if you’re traveling without a PR card.

What Are Permanent Resident Cards?

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by the government of Canada. 

There is a difference between temporary workers or students and permanent residents. Temporary residents include students or foreign workers. They are not considered permanent residents and don’t have the benefits of permanent resident status

Permanent residents are able to live, work and study anywhere in Canada without needing to apply for authorization. They are also eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship upon meeting residency requirements. 

Permanent residents cannot vote or run for political office however, nor can they hold jobs that require a high-level security clearance.

Permanent resident cards are proof of your permanent residence status. If you travel outside of Canada, you need to show your Permanent Resident card to be able to come back into Canada. This applies when you’re using a “commercial vehicle”, including an airplane, boat, train, or bus.  

If you’re considering applying for permanent residency status, you can consider some of the new international graduates and essential worker’s streams. New streams are being offered by the government throughout the year. These include streams for economic class skilled workers, professionals, or those with Canadian work experience.  

Renewing Permanent Resident Cards

Most permanent resident cards are valid for 5 years. Some cards may be valid for one year, so make sure to confirm when your permanent resident card expires. Remember you don’t lose your permanent resident status when your permanent resident expires.

If your permanent resident card is expired or will expire in less than 9 months, then you should apply for a new card. The new card will have a new expiration date. It costs $50 to renew a permanent resident card.

To apply, get the application package online. This package includes the forms and guides that you need to be able to renew your permanent resident card. You will need to submit:

  • A photocopy of your old permanent resident card
  • A clear copy of your passport
  • 2 photos based on specific requirements 
  • Any other documents listed in the Document Checklist in the application package
  • A copy of the receipt for the processing fee
  • A solemn declaration (if your PR card was lost, stolen, or destroyed)

The photos must be taken by a commercial photographer. They should be sized 50 mm x 70 mm with a neutral facial expression. 

If you’re renewing your card, keep your old card with you, and just send a photocopy of the old card in your application. If you’re applying to replace your card because it’s damaged or has the wrong information, then submit your old card in your application.

Replacing Permanent Resident Cards

If your permanent resident card is lost, stolen, or destroyed, before you apply online, you need to tell the government what happened. This can be done online by following these conditions: 

  • Choose “Tell us more”
  • Answer “No”
  • Click on “Proceed to Web Form”
  • Choose “Permanent resident card” and “Renewal and Replacement”
  • Fill in your details

If you’re outside Canada, go to the nearest visa office and apply for the permanent resident travel card to return to Canada.

Processing Time for Permanent Resident Cards

If you’re going to be traveling soon, remember that it takes some time to process the renewal and replacement of permanent resident cards. Processing times vary for replacing or renewing a permanent resident card, so make sure to check the processing times online. 

You can apply to process your permanent resident card urgently. To quality for urgent processing, you must be traveling within the next 3 months because of:

  • Work or job opportunity
  • Your own or a family member’s serious illness
  • Death of a family member

Remember that this does not mean that you are guaranteed to get your permanent resident card on time. For the sake of your travel plans, make sure to renew ahead of time so you’re not dealing with tight deadlines.

Traveling Without a PR Card – How to Get a Permanent Resident Travel Document

If you are traveling and your PR Card expires, you can get a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTDs). PRTDs allows for a single entry to Canada. Since you can only apply for a permanent resident card inside Canada, you’ll need a PRTD to enter Canada.

To apply for a PRTD, you need to:

  • Be a permanent resident of Canada
  • Not have a valid permanent resident card
  • Be outside Canada
  • Be returning to Canada by airplane, boat, train, or bus

When you apply for a PRTD, a visa officer will review your application. You must make sure to meet the permanent residency requirements. This means that you must have lived in Canada for 730 days during the last 5 years. These 730 days do not need to be continuous.

With the PRTD, you can enter Canada once and begin the process to renew your permanent resident card.

Contact Your Permanent Resident Cards Expert Today

Now you know everything you need to know about renewing or replacing your permanent resident cards. If you need further assistance with a permanent resident travel document, contact your immigration lawyers at Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers today.

Book your consultation by phone, Zoom, or Teams at your convenience. You can book a 30-minute or 60-minute consultation based on your needs. Our multicultural, multilingual immigration team can help you tackle all your permanent resident card issues.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.