Travel

Coming back to Canada with an expired PR card?

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 31st, 2019 7:20 am
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
1428 posts
530 upvotes

Coming back to Canada with an expired PR card?

Hi guys,

In a situation here and trying to prep should the worst case scenario happen. My wife has a PR card that expires on Feb 18th, the issue is, we are going back to Japan (her Citizenship country) from Feb 7th to 27th. We sent out for a renewal on Dec 7th (just before leaving for a week to Mexico) as I didn't even realize it was due for renewal already with multiple trips we had, and only clued in when checking in online for my Mexico trip that it's expiring soon. We sent in the renewal and hoping that it will arrive on time before we leave, but if it doesn't, what then? We will definitely still be going to Japan, I'm just worried about coming back if the new card doesn't arrive before we leave. I am sure once we are in Canada, we can show our online status for the PR renewal (which still hasn't updated despite FedEx tracking showing it was delivered Dec 11th) with additional documentation and they will let us in, but what about boarding the plane in Japan. I believe it's the airline that is going to be the biggest struggle. My wife's Japanese citizenship grants her Visa Free travel to Canada, so she could come here as a tourist, but since she has PR they will ask for her PR card, and I believe she has to present it and can't state she is a tourist. Has anyone been in a similar situation?

My parents will be able to check my mail for the 3 weeks I am away, and would be able to mail the PR card to Japan express, but that takes 5 business days, so who knows if it will ever arrive on time before we have to leave Japan. My wife will be travelling with me the whole time and I am a Canadian citizen, if that matters at all.
44 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 13, 2013
1653 posts
670 upvotes
Ottawa
You can’t just arrive with an expired PR. She will need to apply for a PR travel document. Not sure how much time and money this will involve. More if you will be outside of Tokyo. If the PR card is issued but you don’t have it physically you might be right they will let her in if the airline is slack and let s you board. If it isn’t issued they won’t know if she’s ineligible for some reason so can’t just wave her through.

This is serious. Don’t treat it lightly.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 13, 2010
5650 posts
744 upvotes
Scarborough
1. There's time, call CIC Call Centre 1-888-242-2100 and try to speak to an agent. (some r helpful while some aren't so keep trying)
2. Get help from your MP's office, they should be able to help you.
3. Having Japanse passport will certainly allow her to travel to Canada (she may need to show a return ticket etc).
4. If all else fails and u go and she doesn't have her pr card in time, she can always re-route her return journey. Go to USA/NewYork from Japan, then travel by car/road back to Canada as CBSA can verify her pr status and let her back into Canada (this will cost extra)
Deal Addict
Dec 12, 2010
1481 posts
356 upvotes
Toronto
Going by this thread, looking at other timelines, I think there is a chance it could arrive in time: https://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immig ... 5/page-111

If it doesn't arrive in time you have only two options and that is getting a PRTD. I would do some research on that and see how long it takes but most likely you should apply for it as soon as you are in Japan (I would also have all the forms filled in before leaving) or if you change you flights you could fly to the US and cross by land.

The problem isn't when you arrive in Canada it's getting on the plane. The only two options are valid PR card or PRTD. The chances are VERY low of the airline letting her on without either as they will do a check at check-in and also at the gate.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
1428 posts
530 upvotes
Thanks everyone. I also looked at that Canada visa thread and it seems like it takes roughly 2.5 month, with my timelines, if it comes, it would be in the last week we are in Japan, with any luck with at least 5 days left before we leave, which would allow for my parents to send it to us in Japan via UPS, which would arrive there in 3 business days. We have a friend who lives in Tokyo so we do have a permanent address to send to. When we submitted our request we did put URGENT on the letter and provided documentation that they need for urgent processing (flight itinerary, receipts etc), but we didn't have the last part that's required, which is a letter from employer if PR card required for employment, or if it's for death in the family etc etc. We wrote a letter explaining our situation and asked to be considered for Urgent, but the fact that the update hasn't showed up on our online tracking makes me think they didn't accept our urgent request. This is the second time we are doing a PR renewal, so the process isn't new to us, we just screwed up and lost track of time and for some reason thought we had to give up her PR card at the time of renewal, which isn't the case, and since we travel and had a trip coming up still to Mexico we didn't even think to double check.

I had a long chat with my wife yesterday after reading that canadavisa thread for a bit, and we have a few options should the card not arrive on time and we are unable to get it shipped over there.

Our plan is to go to the airport as normal, and try to explain the situation to the airline staff when asked. By this point at the very least we would have online tracking showing our application status, or if the card arrives at the very last moment, my parents can take pictures of the card and send it to us, which we can show to the staff. We have been to Japan multiple times and always come and go without issue, perhaps the multiple stamps in the passport can be used as extra documentation. I understand that it would be extremely lucky if the airline lets us go, but if they don't, I will pay the extra fees for my wife's bag, and I will travel home alone, but before doing so we will arrange for her return ticket to be rescheduled (we are flying ANA), hopefully we can get some credit out of it for future booking. My wife has a friend in Tokyo she can stay with for the night, and then she can take the bullet train back to her parents home in Kobe and wait it out. She only works a few times a week so it wouldn't be a big deal for her if she had to call in and get her shifts taken care of, as she is a nurse and it's a common practice. I think if we make it to Canada, the boarder control will eventually let her in with our documentation. If they can make checks at the ground boarder without PR card, I don't see a reason they can't at the airport with some secondary examination etc, the biggest hurdle is the airline.

If the PR card becomes a much longer ordeal (such as something got filled in wrong and it get's sent back for re submission, shouldn't be as I had the old PR submission documents from last time with most of the information on them which was copied over where applicable), at that point I would look at booking her to come somewhere in the USA. There are direct flights from Osaka to Seattle which could work since she would be in Kobe and Osaka airport is close by, saves her from going all the way back to Tokyo. Once she arrives in Seattle I can go and pick her up there (it's a long long drive from Calgary), or we book through to a regional airline and get her to somewhere like Great Falls, which would be a much shorted drive. I like to drive and would make the trip, whichever option we decide.

Another option, thought I don't think it's really an option, is to get the PRTD document mentioned. Looking online, this document and the process seems rather stupid. It's just filling out pretty much the same documentation as a PR card, and then submitting it all, the only difference is, you have to apply for PRTD when you are outside of Canada, and for a PR you can only apply when within. The process takes just as long as a PR card...so what's the point, my wife will definitely not be spending multiple months in Japan, as we much rather just fly her in through USA. My wife did bring up a valid point, what happens if you lost your PR card when travelling...say it was still active, you surely can't be trapped abroad because of this, is there no other option besides having the card or the long PRTD process? I know you can get an emergency passport made if you lost your passport, is there no similar document or anything that an embassy can do for the PR card? Surely this has happened to people in the past, I can't imaging they all just give up, settle in for multiple months in a foreign country, and wait it out.

At the end of the day, if we can't get on that plane we will incur multiple of thousands in extra costs, but I guess it is what it is, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Deal Addict
Dec 12, 2010
1481 posts
356 upvotes
Toronto
In all honesty, I don't think your plan with turning up at the airport will work. They are VERY strict about having the right documentation and that is either a PR card or PRTD. The airlines just won't take the risk at all.

I don't think they will process your application urgently either, your reasons unfortunately don't come under what they list on the website.

Have you managed to find timelines for a PRTD? Each country is different but for example the UK is only about a week turnaround.

There is a positive though that the renewal times are a bit better than last year (when I applied) and I really think if there are no issues with your application (like photos being rejected) then hopefully the card should be in your hands when you leave.

It would solve so many issues if you could apply for an emergency PRTD before you leave.
Deal Addict
Jun 15, 2015
2244 posts
1362 upvotes
Mississauga, ON
eblend wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 12:02 pm
Thanks everyone. I also looked at that Canada visa thread and it seems like it takes roughly 2.5 month, with my timelines, if it comes, it would be in the last week we are in Japan, with any luck with at least 5 days left before we leave, which would allow for my parents to send it to us in Japan via UPS, which would arrive there in 3 business days. We have a friend who lives in Tokyo so we do have a permanent address to send to. When we submitted our request we did put URGENT on the letter and provided documentation that they need for urgent processing (flight itinerary, receipts etc), but we didn't have the last part that's required, which is a letter from employer if PR card required for employment, or if it's for death in the family etc etc. We wrote a letter explaining our situation and asked to be considered for Urgent, but the fact that the update hasn't showed up on our online tracking makes me think they didn't accept our urgent request. This is the second time we are doing a PR renewal, so the process isn't new to us, we just screwed up and lost track of time and for some reason thought we had to give up her PR card at the time of renewal, which isn't the case, and since we travel and had a trip coming up still to Mexico we didn't even think to double check.

I had a long chat with my wife yesterday after reading that canadavisa thread for a bit, and we have a few options should the card not arrive on time and we are unable to get it shipped over there.

Our plan is to go to the airport as normal, and try to explain the situation to the airline staff when asked. By this point at the very least we would have online tracking showing our application status, or if the card arrives at the very last moment, my parents can take pictures of the card and send it to us, which we can show to the staff. We have been to Japan multiple times and always come and go without issue, perhaps the multiple stamps in the passport can be used as extra documentation. I understand that it would be extremely lucky if the airline lets us go, but if they don't, I will pay the extra fees for my wife's bag, and I will travel home alone, but before doing so we will arrange for her return ticket to be rescheduled (we are flying ANA), hopefully we can get some credit out of it for future booking. My wife has a friend in Tokyo she can stay with for the night, and then she can take the bullet train back to her parents home in Kobe and wait it out. She only works a few times a week so it wouldn't be a big deal for her if she had to call in and get her shifts taken care of, as she is a nurse and it's a common practice. I think if we make it to Canada, the boarder control will eventually let her in with our documentation. If they can make checks at the ground boarder without PR card, I don't see a reason they can't at the airport with some secondary examination etc, the biggest hurdle is the airline.

If the PR card becomes a much longer ordeal (such as something got filled in wrong and it get's sent back for re submission, shouldn't be as I had the old PR submission documents from last time with most of the information on them which was copied over where applicable), at that point I would look at booking her to come somewhere in the USA. There are direct flights from Osaka to Seattle which could work since she would be in Kobe and Osaka airport is close by, saves her from going all the way back to Tokyo. Once she arrives in Seattle I can go and pick her up there (it's a long long drive from Calgary), or we book through to a regional airline and get her to somewhere like Great Falls, which would be a much shorted drive. I like to drive and would make the trip, whichever option we decide.

Another option, thought I don't think it's really an option, is to get the PRTD document mentioned. Looking online, this document and the process seems rather stupid. It's just filling out pretty much the same documentation as a PR card, and then submitting it all, the only difference is, you have to apply for PRTD when you are outside of Canada, and for a PR you can only apply when within. The process takes just as long as a PR card...so what's the point, my wife will definitely not be spending multiple months in Japan, as we much rather just fly her in through USA. My wife did bring up a valid point, what happens if you lost your PR card when travelling...say it was still active, you surely can't be trapped abroad because of this, is there no other option besides having the card or the long PRTD process? I know you can get an emergency passport made if you lost your passport, is there no similar document or anything that an embassy can do for the PR card? Surely this has happened to people in the past, I can't imaging they all just give up, settle in for multiple months in a foreign country, and wait it out.

At the end of the day, if we can't get on that plane we will incur multiple of thousands in extra costs, but I guess it is what it is, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
I can tell you right now having track numbers / application records or even a photo of the card you will be denied boarding for the return flight. Understand that airlines can be fined and a gate agent can face serious consequences for boarding a passenger with insufficient documentation.

Is there not a way to push your trip up NOW and pay the subsequent change fees? Given that you will be checking in your flight t minus 3 hours and without the proper documentation you will likely being forfeiting your return ticket. Your best bet would be to pay the change fee BEFORE your return date. Also assuming your ticket is not a 100% non refundable and non changeable.

P.S My father in law lost his PR card in Portugal and luckily noticed BEFORE his return flight. He was a bit scatterbrain because he flew for a funeral. He had to make a trek to Lisbon (4 hours from where their family is) to get the PRTD. I think it took a few business days at the most a week. It was a time use and he had to re-apply once he returned to Canada for his actual card.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
1428 posts
530 upvotes
cardle wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 12:54 pm

It would solve so many issues if you could apply for an emergency PRTD before you leave.
I don't think I can apply for this before I leave, or can I? My understanding is I have to do this abroad? Is PRTD applied for by mail or in person? Does it in any way interfere with my PR process? For example, if we apply for PRTD right now (assuming we can by mail), send all the information to Japan (do we have to send it to Japan?), and at the same time they are processing our PR application, will that raise any red flags?

Reading on other forums it appears that letting a person board is up to the airline discretion at the end of the day, though they are very unlikely to decide in your favour.

EDIT: I am pretty sure PRTD is a visa type document right inside of your passport, therefore I believe they need your passport for the duration of processing, so this would not be an option. We will be in Tokyo the last 4 days we are in Japan and it's the only place where we can go for PRTD I believe. It is possible that we can go to Tokyo from Osaka on Feb 18th and submit for this, but that only give us 9 days before departure for the document to be approved. I guess we need to check with the Japan visa office on how long this will take. Unfortunately due to the holidays we can't really contact them now, and I can't contact Canada Immigration either until early Jan.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
1428 posts
530 upvotes
BrunetteGirl wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 1:05 pm
Is there not a way to push your trip up NOW and pay the subsequent change fees? Given that you will be checking in your flight t minus 3 hours and without the proper documentation you will likely being forfeiting your return ticket. Your best bet would be to pay the change fee BEFORE your return date. Also assuming your ticket is not a 100% non refundable and non changeable.
Changing the trip at this point isn't possible, we are going all over Japan, including the Hokkaido Snow Festival, which only runs during specific dates, so we got Airbnb, multiple internal flights etc etc booked, it's cheaper to just buy a whole need ticket should we need to. We paid only $800 round trip per person for the tickets, so if we forfeit the ticket and get nothing back, it's okay, we will buy a new one, at the end of the day it's just $$, sucks but not much else we can do.
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2014
1896 posts
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HK
In my experience, airports in Asia (especially Japan) are more strict when it comes to documentation during check-in, as they follow the rules to a tee.

Personally, I would postpone the trip, however it sounds like you have the time and money should it not work out.
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Sep 9, 2007
1777 posts
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Mississauga
I didn't read most as they are too lengthy but my wife forgot her PR card when we were leaving Canada for a vacation trip. She holds a Polish passport so she doesn't need a visa. We showed up at Dominican Rep airport and it took few minutes for reps to confirm that she doesn't need a visa to visit Canada. I told my wife not to mention anything about PR as it will just complicate things. Once we arrived, CBSA agent confirmed that she indeed is a PR in Canada and we were let go. This was 4 years ago.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
1428 posts
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koleso wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 9:38 pm
I didn't read most as they are too lengthy but my wife forgot her PR card when we were leaving Canada for a vacation trip. She holds a Polish passport so she doesn't need a visa. We showed up at Dominican Rep airport and it took few minutes for reps to confirm that she doesn't need a visa to visit Canada. I told my wife not to mention anything about PR as it will just complicate things. Once we arrived, CBSA agent confirmed that she indeed is a PR in Canada and we were let go. This was 4 years ago.
Yes, I believe in 2017 they changed the rules unfortunately. Previous to this rule change, you could just travel to Canada visa-free if your passport allowed it and travel as a tourist, then confirm your PR at the boarder, but unfortunately this is no longer the case :( I do wonder if the airline actually knows we are PR or not....I mean all we have to do is convince the airline, although I think you need a ETA (electronic travel authorization) from Canada which gets added to your passport, and you can't get that if you are PR, so my guess is that they will know that you don't have an ETA, therefore will ask for a PR, if no PR, no boarding.
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Sep 9, 2007
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eblend wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 9:48 pm
Yes, I believe in 2017 they changed the rules unfortunately. Previous to this rule change, you could just travel to Canada visa-free if your passport allowed it and travel as a tourist, then confirm your PR at the boarder, but unfortunately this is no longer the case :( I do wonder if the airline actually knows we are PR or not....I mean all we have to do is convince the airline, although I think you need a ETA (electronic travel authorization) from Canada which gets added to your passport, and you can't get that if you are PR, so my guess is that they will know that you don't have an ETA, therefore will ask for a PR, if no PR, no boarding.
We just travelled 2 weeks ago and had to supply PR details for departing trip. So yes, airline knows.
Deal Fanatic
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Mar 28, 2005
5294 posts
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Ontario / Quebec
I went through the PR renewal this year - applied in December 2017 and received the card in June 2018.
There were no issues with the renewal process - application was fine and photograph was accepted.
This was just the processing time in that period - actually quite a bit longer than on their website.

So I think getting the PR card on time is wishful thinking and just won't happen - sorry to have to say this.

The alternative I would chose (and I actually did that in the spring before my card was renewed) coming back by private car from the US.
I don't know where the OP lives, but the basic arrangement is for the wife to fly to the closes US border city and then have someone pick her up in a private vehicle.
Coming across the US-Canadian border by public transportation, ie bus or train, apparently still requires a valid PR card.

I came across the US-Canadian border at Cornwall - showed the border agent my foreign passport and my expired PR card.
His only question was "Have you applied for renewal of the PR card?" ....I said "Yes!"
That was it - he waved me through.
There were no more questions, no fees or anything else.
I assume he could tell from scanning the passport that I was a Permanent Resident.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
1428 posts
530 upvotes
krs wrote:
Dec 31st, 2018 1:07 pm

So I think getting the PR card on time is wishful thinking and just won't happen - sorry to have to say this.

The alternative I would chose (and I actually did that in the spring before my card was renewed) coming back by private car from the US.
I don't know where the OP lives, but the basic arrangement is for the wife to fly to the closes US border city and then have someone pick her up in a private vehicle.
Coming across the US-Canadian border by public transportation, ie bus or train, apparently still requires a valid PR card.

I came across the US-Canadian border at Cornwall - showed the border agent my foreign passport and my expired PR card.
His only question was "Have you applied for renewal of the PR card?" ....I said "Yes!"
That was it - he waved me through.
There were no more questions, no fees or anything else.
I assume he could tell from scanning the passport that I was a Permanent Resident.
That's out backup plan now after much research. Basically we are waiting to see, if nothing comes by the time we are in Tokyo (last 5 days of our time there), we will basically reboot her for a flight to Seattle and I will fly back by myself. Since my flight back to Calgary stops over in Vancouver, I will get out in Vancouver and not fly my last segment and stay with my sister. The following day my wife will fly in to Seattle and we will drive back to Calgary together. We are still hopeful it will come on time, but it's a long shot. Some of the resent posts on CanadaVisa show that the times are dropping, but since it's a holiday season, I am sure that adds weeks to the process :(

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