I am a US permanent resident. How can I return to the USA after losing my Green Card in Canada? I only have my social security card on me. What do I need to cross the border?

  • 2
    Are you flying or crossing the land border? I'm not sure that it makes a difference, but it might.
    – phoog
    Mar 5 '19 at 19:21
  • 1
    You should first contact the nearest US consulate. Mar 5 '19 at 20:56
  • 1
    i want to cross the land border Mar 5 '19 at 21:45

The US Embassy in Mexico (which also frequently sees cases like this) has a web page about this situation. They say that you can go to the land border and present your case to CBP there. If you have other documents which identify you (e.g. passport) you should bring them so that CBP can be sure of who you are.

In relevant part:

Please see below for your four options for returning to the U.S., presented in order of processing time, from least to most time required:

  1. Have your airline call the Regional Carrier Liaison Group in Miami and seek permission to board without an entry document.

  2. Cross a land border and present your case to CBP there. You will be able to apply for admission to the U.S. with CBP without your LPR card.


You need your permanent resident card to return to the USA unlike a citizen who can just show up at the border with nothing and will be allowed in after some checks.

I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation)

You must file Form I-131A in person at a USCIS international field office or with a Consular Section at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Before appearing in person, you must submit the filing fee through the online payment system on our website (see the Filing Fee section below). When you appear in person to file Form I-131A, you must bring evidence that you paid the fee

Note that it’s not cheap, $575.

Traveling outside US - Documents needed for Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR)/Green Card holders

What documents, identification, and paperwork does a Lawful Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) Green Card holder need to travel internationally?

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) of the U.S. must present a Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card", Form I-551), a Reentry Permit (if gone for more than 1 year), or a Returning Resident Visa (if gone for 2 years or more) to reenter the United States.

  • The page you link to says that the form is for those who "wish to apply for a travel document (carrier documentation) that allows you to board an airline or other transportation carrier without the airline or transportation carrier being penalized." This implies that such a form would not be necessary for someone crossing the land border, nor for someone who can fly to the US without a visa or ESTA authorization (most notably a Canadian citizen).
    – phoog
    Mar 5 '19 at 20:17
  • @phoog That’s very possible, however OP has not answered your question and we do not know conclusively what the situation is. What we do know however getting this document is a foolproof way to get back. Also the five criteria to apply for the document (in the instructions) apply to him/her. Mar 5 '19 at 20:19
  • At $575, I would definitely want to know whether I could cross the land border without one of these things before I paid the fee. I'm looking at the statute and the regulations, but a quick look did not suffice, and I'm in the middle of something else right now, so I probably won't find the applicable section for several hours.
    – phoog
    Mar 5 '19 at 20:40
  • That document is specifically for air travel. The OP plans to cross the land border. Mar 6 '19 at 0:56

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