How Long Can Canadians Stay Out of the Country?

How long Canadians can stay out of country or out of province is one of the most frequent questions asked of us. And though you might think it would require a simple answer, I must admit it could get a little complicated. Consequently, it’s time for an update.

First is the issue of US immigration rules that apply equally to all Canadians, regardless of the province that you live in.

Canadians are allowed to visit the US for up to six months (182 days) per calendar year. Nationals of other countries are allowed only 90 days. You can accumulate those days by one long trip, or an aggregation of several short ones. (There is some pending legislation in the US Congress that would extend that period for Canadian snowbirds to 240 days, but predicting what might happen in Congress is a hazardous game and we will explore the ramifications of such a change when and IF it happens.)

The other set of rules is applied by your province; these rules require you to be physically present in your home province for a specified number of days throughout the year in order to qualify for provincial health benefits. These rules have nothing to do with the American border control regulations or the way US border agents apply them. They are not linked except by the coincidence that they both have focused on the six-month threshold.

Recently, BC and Manitoba have extended their out-of-province allowance to seven months from six (as Ontario did several years ago). But that does not mean that you are allowed to stay in the US for that additional month. It only means that you have an extra month to travel throughout Canada or abroad. All other provinces and territories (with the exception of Newfoundland & Labrador) require you to be present for six months. Newfoundland & Labrador require only a four-month domestic residency.

Quebec takes a more liberal approach to out-of-province travel by not counting trips of less than 21 days against the 183-day residency requirement. But it also warns that it checks compliance with this rule and any person exceeding the 183 days will have to repay the Regie for any insured service provided to them during that particular year.

If you lose your health benefits, you would have to reapply for them. This can only be done by living in your province or territory for three months, and during this time, you would be without provincial health benefits. There are, however, private insurance plans that will cover you for that period. 

 


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46 Comments

  1. Does out of the country rules apply on a calendar year or any 12 month period ? We left Canada Oct 29 2016 and will be in Mexico for 177 days returning Apri 23,2017. I want to visit my brother in the U S in July 2017. Am I allowed to visit for 7 days?

    • Ingle International Reply

      Canadians are allowed to visit the US for up to six months (182 days) per calendar year.

  2. I’m naturalized in 1999, Canadian citizen. For 20 years I was living in Quebec, Montreal. In April of 2015, i left the Canada and moved to my parents country Ukraine to take care of my aging parents. I’m staying in Ukraine already for two years and i’m not sure for how long i will be here. I have a Canadian passport for ten years. Does it mean i’m not Canadian anymore? Does it mean that Canada will not accept me and punish me for being kind to the human kind?

  3. Hello! If I’m going to the U.S for 90 days till the end of Dec. 2017. Does this mean I can stay for another 6 months for the year 2018?

    • Ingle International Reply

      Charina:
      No. If you use up three months by the end of 2017, you are only allowed three more months from the beginning of 2018. No more than 180 days in total over any 12 continuous months.

      Milan

  4. Hello, I’m naturalized and I have a Canadian passport .I’m visit my family in middle East . 2017
    For how long stay outside Canada .
    And come back to Canada
    Thank you

    • Ingle International Reply

      Ala:
      If you are a Canadian citizen you can stay in the Middle East as long as your host country allows. You can return to Canada when you like. But if you stay out of your province for longer than seven months (six months in Quebec or PEI) you will lose your provincial health insurance benefits. Also if you are a dual citizen of another country in the Middle East, you will be subject to that country’s laws and restrictions.

      Milan

  5. William Honaizer Reply

    If I travel out of Canada. (Not to the USA) for 6 months. And then I return. How long do I have wait before I can go for another 6 months? I live in BC.

    • Ingle International Reply

      William:
      If you are a Canadian citizen, you can stay out of Canada for as long as you like. You can return anytime, or never, and still retain your citizenship. How long you can stay in any country depends on the rules of that country. For Most European countries, that is up to 90 days; then you must get special visa permissions etc. But as a resident of BC, if you leave that province for longer than seven months per year, you will lose your BC health insurance benefits and it would take you three months of continuous residence in BC to get them reinstated.

      Milan

  6. ATMA RAKHRA Reply

    Sir,I am canadian citizen and I have OCI STATUS also. How long I can stay in my country ie India?

    • Ingle International Reply

      Atma:
      OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) allows you to stay in India for any length of time you wish. As a citizen of Canada you can return to Canada whenever you wish but you will lose your provincial health insurance benefits if you stay out beyond the residency requirements of your province. You must reside in your home province for at least five months per year: in Quebec and PEI, the requirement is six months plus a day.

      Milan

  7. anita moore Reply

    I am a Canadian citizen, born in the U.K and hold a passport for both countries.
    I will be in the UK from Sept 8th 2017 until March 5 th of 2018 a total of 179 days. To calculate when I am able to spend a further block of time in the UK do I count the days already spent there in 2018 (64 days) and add this to the time I want to spend in the last 3 months of 2018? Would those total number of days constitute my allowed absence of 183 days in a calendar year ?

    • Ingle International Reply

      Anita

      I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking how long you can stay in the UK or how long you can stay out of your province for health insurance reasons? Put it another way, as a citizen of the UK you can stay there as long as you like. And as a citizen of Canada, you can stay out of Canada as long as you like and return whenever you wish, or never. You’ll still be a Canadian citizen. But if you are concerned about your health benefits you will have to actually live in your province for 156 days per calendar year or rolling year–depends on which province. If you’re from PEI or Quebec you must be in province at least six months.

      Milan

  8. Sir: Am living 27 years in Canada. Canadian citizen and planning to retire next year. How long could I stay in the Philippines> I was born there. I live by myself here in Alberta, Canada

    • Ingle International Reply

      If you’re a citizen of the Philippines in good standing you could live there forever. And as a citizen of Canada you can return whenever you wish, but if you stay out of Alberta more than seven months in a year you might lose your provincial health benefits.

  9. NEELA MUKHOPADHYAY Reply

    How long can a Canadian citizen live outside Canada if he is a resident of Alberta?

    • Ingle International Reply

      As long as he wishes. But if he stays out longer than seven months a year he might lose his provincial health benefits.

  10. Hello, I’m a canadian cutizen from birth, i got married in Romania (an eastern european country not in schengen) and ive been here for almost 9 months as husband doesnt have documents to enter canada. What would happen if i visited canada? Would i be allowed to visit ontario family for a month and then return to Romania? Or what prolems will i have

    • Ingle International Reply

      When you say you have been “here” for nine months, I assume that means in Romania. If you are a Canadian citizen, which you would be if you were born in Canada, you could visit your relatives in Ontario for as long as you wished. Whether or not you could return to Romania is an issue for the Romanian government and I don’t know enough about your situation to comment on that. But you certainly should have no problem with the Canadian authorities.

      Milan

  11. As a Canadian residing in BC, can I live in Mexico for 7 months a year without losing my health care benefits. Can I do this every year.
    Thank you

    • Ingle International Reply

      Hi,

      Yes you can, so far as BC is concerned. But Mexico only allows you to stay up to 180 days for one visit. Make sure you leave within that 180 days and turn in your tourist card. Then if you want to go back after a short while, you can. But you must get appropriate tourist cards/visas to get into the country.

  12. Dear sir,I am Canadian citizen.I left Québec for ten years to Vietnam.I would like to know if I can return back to Canada and still retain my citizen?My passport is invalid, can I still apply for it in order to return to Canada? And can I apply over the Internet while I am still in Vietnam? Thanks

    • Ingle International Reply

      You can return back to Canada, but keep in mind, in order to access services such as health care and libraries you will have to show proof that you’re now living in Canada. This could be an apartment rental lease, utility bills etc. Quebec has a three-month waiting period before you can access public health insurance, so you will not receive health coverage straight away. You should look into insurance for that period.

      You can replace your passport, and you should do this immediately. Having identification isn’t just important for travel, it’s essential when living abroad. Contact your nearest Canadian consulate or embassy in Vietnam and they will help you. Find out more information for your return here.

  13. Hi
    Regarding Canadians spending the winter in Mexico…..
    A resident of BC ( Born and raised) can travel to Mexico for seven months in any twelve month period, but ONLY for seven months due to BC Medical regulations.
    As for OAS, CPP, and GIS, do these fall within the same time frame?
    Or would they be limited to the original 182 days?
    Thank you.
    Marilyn

    • Ingle International Reply

      Mexico allows you to visit that country for up to 180 consecutive days. That’s Mexico’s rule. But Mexicans are accommodating and you can go back pretty well anytime and stay another 180 days. Just make sure you don’t overstay your first 180 days. BC allows you to stay out of the province for seven months in a calendar year to remain eligible for provincial health coverage. This has nothing to do with OAS, CPP, or GIS.

  14. I am a Canadian PR holder. For the last two years I have been outside of the country, in my homeland Afghanistan. For how long I can stay out of Canada? I don’t have Canada passport, only PR card.

    • Ingle International Reply

      Hi,

      As a permanent resident, you can live outside of Canada, but you must live in Canada for at least two years in any five-year period. If you live outside of Canada for longer than the specific time, it is possible that you would lose your permanent resident status.

  15. Hello I am Canadian Citizen not from birth ,i was originally born in Guyana and obtained citizenship in Canada ,then came back to Guyana , is there anyway i can loose my citizenship?

    • Ingle International Reply

      Hi there,

      The only way your Canadian citizenship can be revoked is if you are convicted in court of fraud when completing your application for permanent residence or your application for Canadian citizenship.

  16. I am a Canadian citizen over 65 and receiving health benefits. I came to China in November 2017 to marry a Chinese national and have applied recently to the Canadian government to bring my wife to Canada. I have the right permissions and Visa to stay in China but how long can I stay out of Canada before I loose my health benefits? The second question is, if I move back within the allotted time to Canada, how long do I have to stay in Canada before I come back to China and then come back with my wife?

    • Ingle International Reply

      To you first question—All provinces except PEI and Quebec allow you to stay out of the province for up to seven months per year/or per any consecutive 12-month period. Newfoundland & Labrador allows you to stay out up to eight months. Whether it’s per calendar year or 12-month period depends on the specific province. Check with your health ministry.

      The second question. You can go back to China any time you want. But when you can return with your wife will depend on how long it takes to process her Canadian visa.

  17. My father in law he’s a dual citizen filipino and canadian citizen -he visit the states last november 2017-march 3 2018. Then he plan to visit the Philippines at the end of March 2018 to August 2018, is it ok that he can go travel because he didn’t stay that long yet in his arrival from the states.

    • Ingle International Reply

      If you’re father-in-law is a Canadian citizen there is no time limit on how long he is allowed to be out of the country. The only thing he could lose if he’s out of the country too long is his access to provincial coverage. All provinces except PEI and Quebec allow you to stay out of the province for up to seven months per year/or per any consecutive 12-month period, before you lose access to OHIP.

  18. Steve Bernath Reply

    I’m born and raised in Canada and want to move to the Philippines, I realize if I’m out of Canada for more then 7 months,I will loose my healthcare,but how about my pension when that time comes, or my Canadian citizenship? I’m living in Alberta right now.
    Great site for info thanks

    • Ingle International Reply

      Yes you will lose your healthcare coverage. Your Canadian old age security or Canada Pension Plan will still be yours, but if you get your full pension or a partial share of it depends on how long you have contributed. Whether you will retain your Canadian citizenship as a dual citizen will depend on Philippine rules. According to Canadian rules, you will be allowed to retain your Canadian citizenship.

  19. So I understand that I’m only allowed to be out of Ontario for 7 months during a 12 month period, does that mean that I would have to stay in Ontario for 5 months before I’m allowed to leave the country again? I’m looking to move to the Caribbean and make that my home but I’d like to travel back and forth to see how feasible it is to keep my Ohip Health coverage active.

    • Ingle International Reply

      You can’t have a permanent residence in two countries at the same time. If you’re going to be domiciled in a Caribbean country, you’re going to have a tough time proving that you qualify for OHIP.

  20. Manuel Fernandez Reply

    Hello Mr. Korkoc
    From Oct19/2017 to Jan18/2018 I was in Spain caring for ailing sister. Dear 91-years-old sister died last week. I need to go back, to sort things out..I bought a round trip ticket April 12-May 24. Is it OK to go ? And, if I need to go out of dear Canada again, when is the month in 2018 that I’m allowed to go…Thanks for you kind reply

    • Ingle International Reply

      Let’s first make it clear that what you’re concerned about is keeping your eligibility for provincial health insurance, is that right? So far as the federal government is concerned you can come and go whenever you please. If you’re a Canadian citizen there are no limits on how long you can be out of the country. But it’s a different matter in respect to maintaining your health insurance benefits. All provinces except PEI and Quebec allow you to stay out of the province for up to seven months per year/or per any consecutive 12-month period. Newfoundland and Labrador allows you to stay out up to eight months. Check with your province’s health ministry to find out whether this is per calendar year or in a 12-month period, it varies from province to province.

  21. Ali Shahmohammadi Reply

    Hi
    I’m an International student in Canada. Because of the us travel ban I had to travel to US and Stay here for more than 6 month due to my project that is defined in US and my wife that is studying in US. I was wondering that if I stay outide canada more than 6 month can affect my study permit.
    Thanks
    Ali

    • Ingle International Reply

      I take it, from “here” you mean you are still in the US. If so, you should have a student visa permitting you to study in the US. If you are in the US on a B2, you cannot overstay without risking impairment to your student visa. Don’t try to juggle two visas. And do not try to stay in the US for longer than 6 months without asking permission of US authorities prior to expiration of your B2.

  22. Janice Antonio Reply

    I’m holding a PR card for almost 10 years here in BC, Canada but still a Filipino Citizen. I’m planning to stay in the Philippines for 16months (Dec 2018 – April 2020) and bringing my kids with me who were born here and holding Canadian passport.What are the restrictions of me as PR and to my kids as citizens? Are we allowed to stay for 16mos in the Philippines?

    Thanks for the info!

    • Ingle International Reply

      If you have had a permanent resident card for 10 years, why have you not applied for Canadian citizenship, which is the purpose of offering the card? If your children are Canadian citizens, they can come and go to Canada any time they wish and for as long as they wish. They can also stay out of Canada for as long as they like without losing their citizenship. How long they are allowed to stay in the Philippines depends on the Philippine government, not the Canadian. As for your PR, you should review its terms and limitations as there are requirements concerning how long you must reside in Canada.

  23. Hi
    My Mom is planning to travel to Philippines for more than 6 months. She is a Canadian citizen and never work here in Canada. She got a pension from GIS and OAS only. In case she over stay for more than 6 months, is she loosing those benefits provided to Senior age? And how long she is allowed to have a vacation, in case she want to extend more month.
    Please advise and thanks in advance.

    • Ingle International Reply

      As a Canadian citizen your mom is entitled to receive all of her GIS and OAS pension and she is allowed to stay out of Canada, in the Philippines or anywhere else, as long as she likes. But if she stays out of her province for longer than six or seven months (depending on her province of residence) she might lose her provincial health insurance benefits. Check with your health ministry about that last point since I don’t know where she normally lives.

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