What if I need to travel back to my home country?

Travelling can be a very difficult, especially when you are new to the country. If you wish to travel outside Canada, the documents you need will change depending on your Canadian residency status. You may also be subject to additional rules. Keep reading to find out more.

Travelling Outside Canada

People who legally live in Canada fall under one of three categories: Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents. It is important to know your status before you depart to avoid running into trouble. If you are new to Canada, you will most likely be a permanent resident or temporary resident. You may speak with an immigration officer to confirm your status. We also have a guide that details what documents you need when landing in Canada.

Being a Canadian citizen gives you the right to leave and return to Canada freely. For more information on Canadian citizenship, visit our guide here.

For Canadian citizens travelling outside Canada, you need the following documents:

  • If you appear to be over the age of 18, you must provide one piece of government-issued identification. The identification must include a photograph and the passenger’s name, date of birth, and gender. In addition, the name on the identification must match the name on the boarding pass. Examples of valid identification can be found here.
  • A Canadian passport. Though not officially required, we strongly recommend carrying it while travelling outside Canada. A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel identification document. All Canadian citizens can apply for a passport.
  • Other required documents and rules for re-entry can change depending on where you’re travelling to. Use the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page to find out more.

Canadian citizens cannot have their status revoked for staying outside the country. Also keep in mind that different countries have different rules for visit duration.

To board a flight to Canada, permanent residents must carry and present either:

  • a valid Permanent Resident Card or
  • a Permanent Resident Travel Document

More details can be found here.

You will also need:

  • One piece of government-issued identification if you appear to be over the age of 18. The identification must include a photograph and the passenger’s name, date of birth, and gender. In addition, the name on the identification must match the name on the boarding pass. Your Permanent Resident Card meets all these requirements. More examples of valid identification can be found here.
  • If you own a valid foreign passport, we strongly recommend carrying it while travelling outside Canada. A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel identification document.
  • Other required documents and rules for re-entry can change depending on where you’re travelling to. Use the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page to find out more.

Permanent resident status is valid for 5 years. You must live in Canada for at least 2 of those years or you may lose your status. We recommend keeping track of the duration of your trips made outside Canada for this reason. Also keep in mind that different countries have different rules for visit duration.

All temporary residents are allowed to leave Canada but re-entry is not guaranteed. An officer will confirm whether you meet all the requirements before allowing you to return.

If you are a temporary resident with a temporary resident visa, you will need to apply for a new visa. You can request to return to Canada on your original visa only if:

  • you are visiting the U.S. or St. Pierre and Miquelon and
  • you will return to Canada before the end of your approved stay.

If you are a temporary resident with a work permit or study permit, you will still need a valid travel document. This can be a temporary resident visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization.

All temporary residents will need:

  • One piece of government-issued identification if you appear to be over the age of 18. The identification must include a photograph and the passenger’s name, date of birth, and gender. In addition, the name on the identification must match the name on the boarding pass. Examples of valid identification can be found here.
  • If you own a valid foreign passport, we strongly recommend carrying it while travelling outside Canada. A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel identification document.
  • Other required documents and rules for re-entry can change depending on where you’re travelling to. Use the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page to find out more.

Check out the following links for more information on:

Immigration and Citizenship Canada also has a Help Centre that answers frequently asked questions on a variety of topics including travel, status, and documentation.

CIES Guides are a volunteer-led project made possible through contributions from the community.

Thanks to Naomi Kim and Asantewa Nkuah for help with this guide. If you want to suggest a correction to this guide, or want to submit one of your own, please contact us.