Canadian Permanent Residency Visas are generally valid for upto five years from the date of issue and the date of expiry is mentioned in the PR card. You have to re-apply for a new PR card six months prior to its expiry.
To apply for the renewal of your PR cards you should fill out the relevant forms and submit it to the immigration authorities, along with necessary documents, two photographs as per specifications and a fee of CAD$50.
Canadian immigration authorities do not mail PR cards to places outside Canada so if you are outside Canada and would like to re-enter while your PR card has expired, then you have to apply for a travel document if you are re-entering in commercial vehicles like buses or planes.
Your PR card will be mailed to your address in Canada. You need to provide a Canadian address within 180 days of your becoming a permanent resident. If you don’t do so within the stipulated period then your card becomes invalid and you have to re-apply for it.
People have a few misunderstanding about the use and legal validity of the PR card.
1) Many people believe that the PR card is a legal personal identification document. For many practical reasons, the PR card serves as a personal identification document, but it is not a legal document for personal identification and so cannot be used as one for various other purposes.
2) It is believed that every resident of Canada should have a valid PR card at all times. This is not so. Just like how you can continue to live inside Canada even after your passport has expired, you can continue to live without a valid PR card. But you will need them once you plan to go outside the country or for other legal situations when you will be required to prove your identity.
3) Many people think that when they re-enter Canada after an outstation trip, they need to show the PR card to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at all times. This too is not true as a PR card is required only if you are re-entering Canada in a commercial vehicle like a plane or a bus.
But if you are travelling in a private vehicle, you are not obliged to carry your PR card. There are other documents that you can provide at the entrance to prove your residency status. You can furnish IMM 1000 (your Record of Landing) or IMM 5292 / IMM 5688 (your Confirmation of Permanent Residence). These documents are provided to you when you apply from overseas or when you visit your local visa office within Canada. You have to satisfactorily answer all the queries of the border security officer and prove your permanent residence status before you are allowed to re-enter Canada.
It is relatively easier to carry around your plastic PR card, but you don’t have to feel insecure if you are not carrying it in the above discussed situations.