Last Updated on July 30, 2017
July 30, 2017 – Canadian permanent residents must now present their permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document to board a flight to Canada, or enter the country by any other commercial means. Not carrying the card or document may result in a permanent resident not being allowed to board a flight, train, bus or boat.
In the first instance, before a permanent resident leaves Canada, it is important they check their permanent residence card will still be valid when they return. A new card can be applied for if the current one expires within six months.
If a permanent resident is already outside Canada when their card expires, they still have options.
When Returning by Commercial Vehicle: Plane, Bus, Train, or Boat
The permanent resident needs to apply for a permanent resident travel document, or they may not be allowed to travel. Apply for the document here.
Once back in Canada, a permanent resident can apply for a new card.
When Returning by Private Vehicle
The Canadian government publishes a list of other documents a permanent resident can use to establish their identity and re-enter the country. The list is here.
Once back in Canada, a permanent resident can apply for a new card.
How Long Is a Permanent Resident Card Valid For?
Most permanent resident cards are valid for five years, with some valid for one year. A resident is advised to apply for a new card if their card expires inside six months.
Current processing time for a new card is 64 days, but there is also an option for urgent processing.
Renouncing Permanent Resident Status
Statistics show a significant increase in the numbers of Europeans, Britons and Australians choosing to give up their status just so they can board a flight to Canada.
While there has been a surge in the number of dual citizens applying for their Canadian passport because of new Canada eTA rules, for permanent residents the trend is in the opposite direction.
The statistics show that since November 10, 2016, when the eTA became mandatory after a series of grace periods, Canadian permanent residents have been renouncing their status in significantly higher numbers.
In the last 18 months, more than 2,500 Britons have renounced their status, compared with a 2015 figure of 305. Some 571 Germans have done the same, compared to a few more than 150 in 2015. In Australia, 509 renounced their status in the last year-and-a-half, compared to 30 in 2015. The French are at it too, with 775 in 18 months compared to 117 in 2015.
Numbers Renouncing Canadian Permanent Resident Status
|Last 18 months||2015|
There are many reasons for a trickle of permanent residents renouncing their status each year, including anything from a reluctance to pay taxes to not liking the weather.
But the reason for the surge appears to be linked to the process of applying for the eTA.
Anyone travelling from a visa-exempt country into Canada by plane requires an eTA. Canadian permanent residents are exempt from the requirement. However, problems begin when permanent residents arrive at an airport without their PR card, with an expired PR card, or to find their status has lapsed for another reason, such as not spending enough time in Canada.
When this situation arises, the only way the person can travel that day is to renounce their permanent residence status and apply for the eTA as a visitor. And it seems there are thousands taking this option.
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Meanwhile, the eTA rules are causing Canadians with dual nationality to apply for passports in droves. Canadian consulates all over the world are being inundated with Canadian passport requests.
As part of eTA requirements, Canadian dual citizens must use a Canadian passport to fly into Canada. Previously, they could use the passport of their other country of citizenship.
It means the new eTA rules have forced thousands of dual citizens to apply for a Canadian passport.
Canadian missions in Australia, the UK, France and Germany say the increase in application numbers has caused processing times to double in some cases.
The dual citizenship issue was one of a number of problems with the eTA roll-out, for which the federal government face severe criticism.
The argument was that not enough was done to promote the new requirement, with travellers turning up at airports only to be told they could not fly.
A special measure introduced to assist dual citizens remains available as a result of the eTA problems. It was due to expire in January 2017.
The measure allows dual citizens to apply for special authorization to travel on their non-Canadian passport. The authorization lasts for four days and can only be applied for if you are flying in the next 10 days.
To apply for special authorization, you must:
- have a flight to Canada that leaves in less than 10 days,
- have a valid passport from a visa-exempt country,
- have previously received a certificate of Canadian citizenship, or
- held a Canadian passport in the past, or
- you were granted Canadian citizenship after having been a permanent resident of Canada.
You can apply for special authorization here.
You need an eTA if you are travelling to Canada by air from a visa-exempt country. A full list of visa-exempt countries is available here.
The following are exempt from requiring an eTA:
- Those who have already obtained a valid visa to enter Canada.
- Anyone entering by land or sea.
- Armed Forces visiting Canada on official duty.
- Students who have a valid Canadian study permit dated on or after August 1, 2015.
- Flight crew, civil aviation inspectors, accident investigators.
- Temporary Foreign Workers who have a valid Canadian work permit date on or after August 1, 2015.
- French citizens who live in and are travelling from St. Pierre and Miquelon.
- Persons entering from the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, while holding valid status in Canada.
- Accredited diplomats.
- Canadian citizens and dual citizens (provided you are travelling on a Canadian passport)
- Canadian permanent residents (you need your PR card or point of entry documentation)
- US citizens (US permanent residents, or green card holders, DO require an eTA when travelling by air)
Special Case: Brazilian, Romanian and Bulgarian Nationals
As of May 1, 2017, Brazilians, Romanians and Bulgarians who have held a Canada visa in the last 10 years, or currently hold a US visa, do not require a visa to travel to Canada by air.
Citizens of all three countries do need an eTA to travel to Canada by air.
Citizens of all three countries still require a Canada visa to cross the border by car, bus, train or boat.
Special Case: Mexican Nationals
Mexicans were granted the right to travel to Canada without a visa as of December 1, 2016. They therefore require an eTA to travel by air.
Mexicans with a visa still valid from before December 1, 2016 do not require an eTA.
How do I get an Electronic Travel Authorization?
You can apply for an eTA through the Canadian federal government website.
Before you apply, you will need:
- Valid passport
- As a US permanent resident, you can apply with:
- Valid US refugee travel document (I-571)
- Valid permit to re-enter the US (I-327)
- Credit card to pay the $7 fee
- Valid email address
To apply for an eTA click here.
The Canadian government advises you to apply as soon as you know your travel itinerary.
However, an eTA can be obtained at the last minute via a smartphone. All you need is an internet connection. The email authorization often only takes a few minutes to come through.
There is no requirement to print an eTA. It is electronically linked to your passport or travel document.
How long is an Electronic Travel Authorization valid for?
An eTA can be valid for five years, or until your passport or travel document expires.
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