How Long Can Canadians Stay Abroad?

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Buying travel insurance lets you relax and enjoy your trip, but you need to be eligible for provincial health coverage in order to qualify. So the question is…

Did you know that there are provincial healthcare qualification restrictions on travelling abroad, in addition to restrictions by the countries you may plan on visiting for an extended period?

Canadians like to frequent our North American counterparts, the U.S. and Mexico. We also like to travel to where our families have their roots. Sometimes, those trips abroad are not just a few days’ jaunt but extended to weeks and even months. Why? To enjoy a winter vacation, retirement travel or just to reunite and spend time with those we love.

If you are travelling for an extended period of time, there are two things you need to know:

  • how long you can stay away and still qualify for your provincial coverage, and
  • how long the country you are visiting will allow you to stay.

How long can you stay away and still qualify for your provincial coverage?

Every province and territory has residency rules that must be followed in order to remain eligible for your provincial health insurance coverage. If you stay out of the country (or even out of province) for too long, you can risk being ineligible and losing your health card privileges.

Here are the maximum durations you can be away and still maintain your health care coverage:

  • 6 Months
    Quebec, PEI, Northwest Territories and Yukon
  • 7 Months
    B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
  • 8 Months
    Newfoundland and Labrador
  • 12 Months

What happens if you stay away longer than the maximum duration?

If you purchase travel medical insurance it will become void at the moment you fail to qualify for provincial healthcare coverage. Your provincial health plan must remain active for the entire duration of your trip.

You will need to requalify for provincial health coverage if you leave and stay out of Canada beyond the maximum provincial time limits. That means that when you return to Canada, you will not be covered for any of your medical expenses and you’ll be responsible for paying out of pocket for doctor’s visits, testing, treatment, procedures and hospitalization.

Getting provincial health benefits back after losing them usually requires living in the province for three months, at which point coverage begins again.

You can request extended leave through your provincial health care body if you need to be out of province for longer than the standard duration your province allows.

And remember, take your health card with you when you travel outside of Canada — but first, make sure it’s still going to be valid when you return (check the expiry date!). You should also check to make sure your personal information is correct, including your name, birthday and current address.

How long are you welcome to visit another country?

It’s not just Canada that has “duration rules” you need to pay attention to. The country you are travelling to also has rules on how long you are welcome to stay there as a visitor, for example

  • The U.S.
    A Canadian can stay for up to 182 days per calendar year (without paying U.S. income tax).
  • The U.K.
    Visitors can stay for maximum of six months in each 12 months (not a calendar year, but counting backwards 12 months from your date of entry).
  • Mexico
    You will be issued a visitor’s visa (keep it with your passport) that is meant for tourists or people who are conducting business for six months or less (it can be renewed if you leave Mexico and re-enter).
  • Philippines
    Visitors are allowed to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding thirty days, provided they hold valid tickets for their return.
  • Israel
    Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel for up to three months from the date of their arrival.
  • India
    An eTV visa allows a visitor to make two trips of up to 30 days per year.
  • China
    A standard tourist visa allows visits up to 30 days, and a 10-year China Visa can allow visits of 60 to 120 days, depending on the reason for the visit.
  • Hong Kong
    Canadians can visit for up to 90 days.

Be certain to check for any travel advisories before planning your trip abroad (read this article for more information).

Now that you have the facts, get ready to pack All-Inclusive Travel Insurance

When you are getting ready to go on your extended trip away from Canada, there is a lot to think about. Adequate travel insurance is the most valuable thing you can pack for you and every member of your family travelling with you.

All-Inclusive Travel Insurance covers

  • Emergency medical costs like hospital and physician services, paramedical services, emergency dental treatment and ambulance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption reimbursement of the prepaid, non-refundable, non-transferable portion of a trip cancelled or interrupted by an unexpected medical emergency, business meeting cancellation, or missed connection
  • Baggage loss, damage and delay in funds for replacing your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate or travel visa, toiletries and clothing
  • Flight and travel accidents causing death, blindness or dismemberment.

At SBIS, we make buying coverage easy

Go online to purchase your travel insurance from the comfort of your own home at any time of the day or night.

If you require any assistance at any time in the process, you may call us at 1-800-667-0429 during our regular business hours, or email us at [email protected] for prompt service. We’re happy to help.

22 Responses

  1. You negate to say that even if you stay over your maximum allowed time away from Canada, you are always welcome to come back. You healthcare will be reinstated after 3 months of living back in Canada. (Will need to go back to health office in your province to get started again). Once Canadian you are always Canadian… like any other country you can return as long as you wait the three months for coverage again. Additionally, best coverage would be one that will cover you during those three months back home if you choose to stay longer.

    1. Thank you Rita for your comment. You are correct, you can always re-apply for your provincial healthcare, however the point of this article was to inform Canadians how long they can stay out of the country travelling and NOT have to be re-instated after waiting for 3 months. If you do require the 3 month coverage while awaiting your provincial healthcare to be re-instated we do offer that type of coverage for Canadians as well. Please call us for information.

      1. If you do not report on time or report very late (but still before expiry of your healthcare card) to your provincial health provider that you have in fact exceeded your time allowance for being abroad (in this instance, 6 months), apart from the fact that you need to be re-instated after 3-month period, is there a chance that you may incur a financial fine or even become permanently banned for enrolling into provincial health coverage across Canada in the future? Thanks

        1. Thank you for your comment/question. As we are not the government you will want to contact your provincial healthcare service to provide you specific details on your question.

  2. Re Rita’s “Once Canadian you are always Canadian” although true for 99% of Canadians in 99% of situations has become more precarious post-9/11, esp after Harper’s (rightful) passage re dual-citizenships, even for natural-born Canadians who’d never once stepped foot in their ancestral homelands. Rightly, even natural-born Canadians can either be stripped of citizenship or deported to their ancestral homelands as long as they don’t become stateless. Yes, even those of White European descent have been sent back to Europe.

    1. Hi Bob, thank you for your comment. This article isn’t about losing your citizenship, you’re absolutely correct you never “lose” your citizenship. It’s actually about losing your provincial healthcare if you travel outside of Canada over and above the number of allotted days and how to get it back once it’s lost.

  3. what happens if a Canadian

    PR cardholder is stranded in
    other country for more than 6
    months because of
    pandemic?Will it affect my PR
    status and PR obligation even
    though the circumstances is
    unintentional because of the

    lockdown.Thank you for your answer.

    1. Thank you for your question…

      International permanent residency holders who have not been able to come to Canada because of COVID-19 travel restrictions will be allowed into the country even if their confirmations have expired, a spokesperson for the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino told

      You may also want to check in with the Canadian Immigration Department for your specific situation at

  4. Hi! You say “If you purchase travel medical insurance it will become void at the moment you fail to qualify for provincial healthcare coverage. Your provincial health plan must remain active for the entire duration of your trip.” However, I’ve been in touch with some travel insurance providers (e.g. Nomad) who say I do not need to have provincial healthcare to qualify. Is this correct? Thanks! Rebecca

    1. Thank you for your question. There are 2 different travel products for this situation
      1st travel product that we offer is called Viator, this particular product is for long term travel situation, where it will remain in tact if your provincial healthcare ends during your trip.
      2nd travel product is the regular travel insurance where if your provincial healthcare ends, this will also terminate regardless if you are still travelling or not. In situations like this, you would ask your province for an extension of your provincial healthcare so your travel insurance does not terminate. The extension application should be done before your trip
      It’s best to contact us at 1-800-667-0429 for your specific travel situation before you make any decisions.

      1. Thank you! It’s good to know that there are options for health insurance even when provincial expires. I’ll call the number!

  5. What about time out of province vs. time out of country? I live in Ontario. Lets say I travel to another country for 7mos. So for the other 5mos. in the year do I have to stay in Ontario, or can I travel to other provinces in the country and not lose my coverage in Ontario?

    1. Thank you for your comment/question. Specifically for Ontario, the province requires “to be continuously eligible for OHIP, a person must make their primary place of residence in Ontario and must be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any given 12-month period.” That goes for travel to other provinces and travel outside of Canada combined. Please be sure to check with the provincial requirements before you plan on travelling in case these change.

    1. Thank you for your question. There is no set number of days you have to be back in the country to “start over” your number of days to leave again. There is a rolling calendar year that you are not supposed to go over the total amount of days in any given year before you would lose your provincial healthcare. Each province has different restrictions so it may be best to speak to your province’s ministry for specific information on your situation.

  6. You are wrong about the Philippines, you can stay up to three years with renewing visas must leave for one day and can start the same three year process.

    1. Thank you for the information/comment. This article focuses on how long you can stay out of Canada and still keep your provincial healthcare, not how long you are able to stay in another country with Visa’s, etc. The article states the number of days you can stay out of the country without losing your healthcare and the days stated are correct and current. Thank you

  7. Hello, what has always confused me is if, for example, I am in Mexico (legally) for 10 months and during this time away from Alberta, I still maintain my address in Alberta and pay all my income taxes which includes healthcare coverage then, why do I loose my Alberta healthcare after 7 months being out of Alberta?

    1. I wish I had the answer to that, but that is a question you should pose to the your provincial government. As I am not affiliated with any governments and am not privy to those decisions, I am unable to give you an insightful response.

  8. Hello Sir, I lived in Alberta for only five months (about 150 days). I had my Alberta health Coverage. I have travelled to india (my Hometown) for 14 months since i had a spine injury. I never informed Alberta healthcare about this. I know that the Alberta requires 183 days in any 12 month period, so that means i will have to reapply for the Alberta Health care with a waiting period of 3 months. But my concern is that Can they even deny my claims for the services i took before visiting India, since i never lived in Alberta for 183 days. Or will it just make me ineligible for the services for 3 months when i return back to Alberta. I hope you understand what i am trying to say.

    1. Thank you for the question. If your services were already covered while you were living in Canada the government would not deny or go back after you for claims, as they are paid in real time. You will not be eligible for any government funded services again until you are reinstated to Alberta Healthcare. We do offer a Visitors to Canada plan (also known as Returning Canadians) to help with your insurance needs while you are awaiting your reinstatement.
      Please give us a call to discuss at 1-800-667-0429.


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