A lot of people are still stuck in the expired-PR Card vortex where their new card is still being processed and they need to travel. They can apply for a travel document at a Canadian embassy overseas, but those often take a long time when the person needs to get back to Canada sooner. When we tell clients the Permanent Resident Card is really meant for commercial travel only and not necessary if they are, say, walking into Canada or driving in, they often look at us quizzically.

So here it is from CIC directly:

“If you return to Canada in a private vehicle, such as your own car, you do not need a permanent resident card. You can use your Record of Landing (IMM 1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292 or IMM 5688) instead.

You would have been given these documents:

  • If you applied from overseas: at the same time as your visa
  • If you applied from within Canada: when you landed at your local visa office

An officer will ask you questions to make sure you meet all of the residency requirements before they allow you to come back to Canada.

When you return to Canada, apply for a PR card if you plan to travel outside Canada again.”

FROM: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?q=064&t=10