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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20 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

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