I am a Canadian citizen and my partner is a permanent resident (PR). We're in the middle of a short trip abroad, and just realized that we left their PR card at home in Vancouver. I believe this was missed during check-in because their work visa still looks valid.

We're wondering - could we arrive in Vancouver airport, have me enter through immigrations and customs, go home, grab the PR card, return to the airport, and give it to my partner on the other side of immigration? Is there a mechanism by which I could give my partner this missing document (e.g. via airport or immigration staff)? Currently we are not confident that we can get a PRTD before we need to go back to Canada.

  • 5
    Would she be able to enter Canada without the paperwork? Most of the time airlines will not allow you on a flight unless you have all needed permissions to enter the country they fly you to.
    – Willeke
    Feb 2, 2023 at 18:53
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    What do you mean by "missed during check-in"? Have you already checked in for your flight to Canada and does your partner already have a boarding pass in hand ? Where are you currently and when is your flight?
    – Hilmar
    Feb 2, 2023 at 18:58
  • Is a "PR" a "permanent resident", presumably in Canada?
    – terdon
    Feb 3, 2023 at 12:52
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    As a possible alternative, have a trusted friend or family member get the card for you, then you reimburse that person for insured, overnight international shipping to wherever you are currently located. That way, you'll have the card prior to the return trip and will avoid this problem entirely.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 3, 2023 at 13:17
  • Whenever I've flown internationally, I've been funneled directly into immigration. There wouldn't be an opportunity for someone to hand me something between deplaning and and the immigration hall.
    – mkennedy
    Feb 3, 2023 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


I believe this was missed during check-in because their work visa still looks valid.

Airlines only check if you have the necessary documents for the destination for one journey (most of the times, either outbound or inbound). They generally do not check if you have the correct documents for your return trip.

But if their Canadian visa indeed still looks valid to airline staff, it is a good thing.... (read on)

Is there a mechanism by which I could give my partner this missing document (e.g. via airport or immigration staff)?

Not really. You would depend on the good will of the staff.

But this does not matter.

If your partner can appear physically before a Canadian border agent for examination, they do not need a PR card. It is their constitutional right to enter Canada; once they say the words "I am a permanent resident of Canada", the border agent has to make reasonable efforts to ascertain their status and must allow them entry into Canada once their identity and status as a PR is established. If your partner has a non-expired PR card, their file and status can relatively easily be looked up electronically. Of course, in practice, it is always a good idea to put the border officer in a good mood, since the agent has the authority to hold a person until their status can be established, so be polite.

But that's only if they can appear physically at a Canadian port of entry. The problem is, if you are not travelling back to Canada by land from the U.S. using a non-commercial means of transportation (e.g. private or rental car, bicyle or on foot), an airline or another commercial transportaton company will only let you board their plane (or bus, ferry etc.) if you can show them that you have the documents to enter Canada, e.g. a Canadian or U.S. passport, a visa, an ETA, or a PR card or travel document.

If their Canadian visa still appears valid even if technically it has ceased to have effect by virtue of their permanent residency, it is likely that they can still board the flight back to Canada and appears for examination before a Canadian official. But this may still carry a risk of being refused boarding if the visa was cancelled in the database.

Otherwise, without a permanent resident card or travel document, a visa-required national cannot even reach Canada by commercial means.

In some cases where the person concerned has a U.S. visa, it is often suggested that they take a flight to Seattle or somewhere close to the Canadian border and appear for examination before a land border post; or if they are eligible for visa-free transfer at a Canadian airport, they can change their itinerary to "transit" through Canada (but in fact forfeiting the outbound trip from Canada once landed in Canada).

U.S. passport holders or legal permanent residents do not have any problem since they do not require any other document to travel to Canada. Visa-free nationals may need to obtain an ETA (even though they are technically ineligible).

  • If their Canadian visa still appears valid => don't airlines validate Canadian visas electronically before boarding?
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 2, 2023 at 19:26
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    @JonathanReez At least not systematically at the moment, although CBSA has enough information to start doing it at any time; or it only checks a red list of revoked visas but PR's previous visas are not automatically cancelled; there are people doing the work around successfully last year.
    – xngtng
    Feb 2, 2023 at 20:17
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    @JonathanReez for many countries only the electronic versions (ESTA, ETA, eVisitor…) are checked electronically, “real” stamped visas are usually not checked. No idea what the situation is for Canada though.
    – jcaron
    Feb 2, 2023 at 21:43
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    @xngtng could the person seek the support of the Canadian embassy in the country they are visiting? In fact, they cannot even be sure that they left the PR at home, they might have lost it. (Or, although this is not the case of OP, it might have been stolen during the trip.) Maybe this happens often enough that there is a mechanism to obtain consular support and be issued a temporary/emergency document to re-enter? Feb 3, 2023 at 3:20
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    @AlbertoSantini The ordinary way in this situation, like OP mentioned, is to apply for a PRTD counterfoil (basically a visa not called a visa), but this may take a couple weeks or more. If the passport is also lost, a certificate of identity book can be issued, which can take longer times. In justified emergencies (e.g. serious family situations), expedited services can be requested, but not guaranteed.
    – xngtng
    Feb 3, 2023 at 10:11

[This is the original poster; I've lost my account and can't get it back, and I can't comment either. Apologies to the moderators]

I wanted to thank the answer from xngtng and answer with how the trip went. At the origin airport, the check-in staff checked the visa and nothing else, so we boarded without issue. We arrived in YVR. The machine wanted us to scan a PR card, so we scanned the passport instead and were directed to wait in the line for an officer. The front-line immigration officer said she expected to see a "PR Visa" (I think this means the PRTD?), and because we did not have one, she sent us to see the secondary inspection near the exit of the baggage claim area. We handed over our passports and waited in secondary inspection; about 30 minutes later, an officer handed them back and said everything was good. We did not undergo any questioning, bag checking, or anything like that. So, it was basically smooth sailing, aside from the extra wait.


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