Permanent Resident status

Understand permanent resident status

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.

A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.

Refugees who are resettled from overseas become permanent residents through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Someone who makes a refugee claim in Canada does not become a permanent resident at that time. To become one, the Immigration and Refugee Board must first approve their claim. Then, they must apply for and get permanent resident status.

The permanent resident card (PR card)

If you travel outside Canada, the permanent resident card is your proof that you are a permanent resident of Canada. If you leave Canada, you will need this card to re-enter the country on a commercial vehicle, like an airplane, boat, train or bus.

If your permanent resident card expires, it does not mean you have lost permanent resident status.

What permanent residents can do

As a permanent resident, you have the right to:

  • get most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage,
  • live, work or study anywhere in Canada,
  • apply for Canadian citizenship,
  • protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You must pay taxes and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

What permanent residents cannot do

You are not allowed to:

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

Time spent living in Canada

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.

Losing your permanent resident status

Your permanent resident status can be taken away if:

  • you do not live in Canada for two out of five years.
  • you are convicted of a serious crime and told to leave Canada.

You do not lose your permanent resident status if your PR card expires.

When you become a Canadian citizen, you are no longer a permanent resident.

Get a permanent resident card

The permanent resident card (PR card) is the official proof that you are a permanent resident of Canada. You use this wallet-sized plastic card to show you can enter and stay in Canada when you return from another country.

You must show this card when you re-enter Canada on a commercial vehicle, such as an airplane, boat, train or bus. If you return to Canada in a private vehicle, such as your car, there are other documents you can use.

If you plan to leave Canada, check your card’s expiry date to make sure that it will still be valid when you return. Most cards are valid for five years.

If you do not plan to leave Canada, you do not need the card.

You may also need a passport to re-enter Canada. Please see the Canadian Border Services Agency website for the documents you will need at the border.

Learn when to get a PR card

If you are immigrating as a permanent resident, CIC will mail your card to you when you get to Canada. You do not need to apply for a card.

You may want to apply for a PR card if:

  • you did not get one when you immigrated to Canada,
  • you have one that has expired or will soon expire, or
  • your card was lost, stolen or damaged.

Determine your eligibility

Make sure you are eligible to apply for a PR card.

Apply for a new or replacement card

Find out what you need to do to apply for a PR card. This application can be for your first card, to renew a card or to replace one.

You can also apply for urgent processing if:

  • you will travel outside Canada very soon, and
  • you do not have a PR card, it has expired or will expire soon.

There is a different process to fix a mistake or make a change to your PR card.

Check processing times

Find out how long it will take CIC to process your application.

You can also view the service standard when you immigrate to Canada. This standard shows how quickly we should be able to process applications.

After you apply: get next steps

Find out what you should do after you apply for your PR card.

Check application status

Find the status of your application online.

Urgent processing of permanent resident cards

CIC strive to expedite all urgent applications, however they cannot guarantee that your card will be ready before you leave Canada.

You are in Canada, applied and now need urgent processing

First, check your application's status online. (It can take up to six weeks for your application to show up in the system.)

Based on its status:

If your application is already in process

Contact us by email or fax to request urgent processing.

By email

Send an email to In your email:

  • Include all of the information we ask for in the body of the email.
  • Attach scans or copies of your proof of travel and proof of payment. Each attachment must be 2Mb or smaller and in PDF, JPG, TIFF, DOC or DOCX formats.
Information you must include in the email
  • FULL NAME as shown on Record of Landing (IMM1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM5292 or IMM5688)
  • CURRENT NAME (if different from above)
  • CLIENT ID on your PR card (8 digits) or IMMIGRATION DOCUMENT NUMBER
  • DATE OF BIRTH (using this format: DD/MM/YYYY)
  • HOME ADDRESS (including postal code)
  • EMAIL ADDRESS (giving an email address will authorize all messages, including file and personal information, to be sent to that email address)
  • Attach these documents as electronic files:
    • PROOF OF TRAVEL – A copy of plane, bus, train or boat ticket / e-ticket / official itinerary. It must show your name.
    • PROOF OF FULL PAYMENT FOR TRAVEL – Must show how you paid (cash, cheque, credit card) and the amount.

By fax

Print the Urgent Processing Template (PDF, 531 Kb). Enter your information into all the boxes. You must enter a valid email address.

When the form is complete, fax it to 1-844-438-8670.

What happens next

If you send us all the information we ask for, including a valid email address, we will email you within two business days to tell you if we can speed up your application. If you do not give us a valid email address, we will not be able to contact you.

When your card is ready, we will usually mail it to you. In some cases, we may ask you to pick it up in-person at a local office.

If you do not provide all of the information we ask for, we may not process your application urgently. We will continue to process it normally.

If your application is not yet in process

  1. Fill out another application as shown in applying for a permanent resident card.

    You must include all the supporting documents in this new application, including another set of pictures and certified copies of documents (if applicable).

  2. With your application, include a photocopy of your proof of travel and proof of full payment for your travel.

    The proof of travel, such as tickets or an itinerary, must show:

    • the dates you will be traveling,
    • your personal information such as your full name, and
    • your destination (where you are going).

    The proof of payment must show full price for your travel. It must show:

    • the date that you paid,
    • the amount paid, and
    • how you paid.

    If you do not send all this information, we may not process your application urgently. We will process it normally.

  3. Please provide an email address where we can contact you if there are any questions.

  4. Also include a photocopy of your receipt of payment form (IMM 5401) or electronic receipt. Do not make a new payment.

  5. On your envelope, write:

    Urgent — Proof of travel included

What happens next: When we get your application, we will review it and decide if you qualify for urgent processing.

When your card is ready, we will mail it to you. However, we may ask you to pick it up in-person at a local office.