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Travel Insurance File
Expert advice on travel insurance & cross-border trips

How Long Can A Canadian Snowbird Stay Out of the Country?

8/30/10 • By Milan Korcok

Since publishing this report, we have received so many questions from readers, that we decided to publish an updated version with more details and updates.

That is the most frequent question I hear from Canada’s snowbirds, who will be making close to one million out-of-country trips this coming season. The rules are not the same for all provinces. Read on to find out more.

How long you can stay out of the country depends on two things: your own provincial rules on medicare eligibility, and how long your host country (for most snowbirds that’s the United States) allows you to stay as a visitor.  These are two separate sets or rules, and they don’t necessarily coincide.

Let’s deal with the provincial rules first. All provinces, except Ontario and Newfoundland, require you to actually live in your home province for at least six months plus a day (183 days in most years) in order to be considered a permanent resident of that province, and therefore qualified for provincial health insurance (medicare) benefits. That means actually residing in your home province and being able to prove it, if necessary, not simply owning a residence there and living in Portugal, Mexico or California for eight or nine months. That means you are allowed to be out-of-the province for half a year less a day—182 days. (Caution: once you are out of your province, that 183-day clock starts ticking.  So if you ordinarily live in Manitoba and want to stay with family in Ontario for a month before leaving for Florida, you will only have five months left to spend in the Sunshine State.)

Ontario allows you to be out of the country for 212 days (seven months) and Newfoundland for eight months without risking loss of your medicare benefits.

If you stay out of your province longer than that, you risk losing your “residency” and with it your medicare benefits, and you will then have to re-instate your eligibility by living in your province for three straight months (without leaving) before you get those benefits back. And you will have to be able to prove that you have complied.

Since there are no provincial border police, you can expect a certain flexibility in how these rules are applied and I know of quite a few people who bend the rules to get a few extra days here or there. If it becomes an issue with your provincial authorities (that is, if your neighbor snitches on you and you are caught) the provincial authorities might well average out your out-of-province stays for the past two or three years to see how you measure up against that six-month threshold. They will not likely prosecute you if you are over by a few of days in one year. But as a general rule, it’s best to simply add up how many days you have been out of the country in a given year in total, and stay within the limits.

The other set of rules are set by your host country and have nothing to do with the medicare eligibility rules in your home province.  The U.S. rules are also somewhat flexible, but you best understand them.  Generally, you are allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to six months without a visa (more about this later) so long as the border agent allowing you in feels you have the wherewithal to support yourself, that you intend to return to Canada within that six month limitation, that you do not intend to stay in the U.S. permanently (illegally), and that you have a “greater connection” to Canada than to the U.S. If he feels you are manipulating the rules and actually living more in the U.S. than in Canada he can deny you entry and there’s not much you can do about it.

If you overstay that six-month allowance and are seen to be doing so by border agents you will likely be put on a restricted list and denied entry to the U.S. for a number of years. It’s too complicated to list the restrictions and penalties here—just, don’t do it.

If you do overstay and you are seen to be more of a U.S. resident than a Canadian one, you may well be required to pay taxes in the U.S. as well as in Canada and you don’t want that.

Travelling back and forth across the border has become a little more complicated over the past few years, but it is still relatively easy for Canadians due to certain dispensations the U.S. offers its northern neighbor.  In effect visitors from Canada are “deemed” to be travelling into the U.S. on a visitor’s visa even if you don’t have the paperwork to prove it. But if you want to stay longer than six months, you will have to apply for the real thing and that is a more complicated process—not for discussion here.

How do you prove your legitimacy and your domicile and your residency to a curious border agent?

Get a passport. And if you don’t already have one, shame on you. This is the 21st century and if you want the privilege of being able to travel to foreign countries (and remember, it is a privilege and not a right) then accept the obligation of being able to prove who you are.

And remember most of all, that once you leave your province and enter another country, your medicare benefits stay behind and you become responsible for paying for your own medical costs. You will be lucky if your provincial medicare pays 10 cents on the dollar of any foreign hospital bills you generate.

That’s what out-of-country travel health insurance is for.

All travel insurers advertising on this site meet TravelInsuranceFile’s acceptability criteria for out-of-country health benefits for Canadian residents and they represent most of the major insurers and underwriters in Canada. Some specialize in student plans. Speak with them, explore their products online, ask questions, and once you get the right answers, buy right online.

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850 Comments

  1. Just wondering if the year is from January to Dec? Some people say it’s from What ever month you leave the country.Please straighten me out on that.Thanks

    • Sherry:

      If what you’re referring to is how long you can stay out of Canada, the rules are quite flexible and they refer to your provincial requirement that you must spend at least six months of the year at home, in aggregate (five months in Ontario). If you plan on staying out on one trip it means from the time you began your trip to when you ended it. It does not strictly depend on the calendar year. If you’re heading the Florida or Texas, or wherever, you’ve got five or six months (depending on where you live). In reality, before you are ruled ineligible for domestic medicare (which is the provincial rule that governs how long you can stay out of the country) somebody in your provincial authority is going to need evidence that you are making a habit of staying out of the country and they will then average out how long you have stayed out over a course of two or three or more years. That is tough evidence to gather and and almost impossible to prove on the basis of one year’s experience–unless you really are greedy and don’t show up at home for months and months. In that case, the bigger problem for you is that would run afoul of US immigration laws, which only allow you six months (in aggregate) over the course of a year. If a US border agent feels that you are spending more time in the US than in Canada, he can bar you from entry and you don’t want that because it goes on your record and can be used agains you for years.

      Milan

  2. When I am counting days for out-of-province reasons, do I have to count the days when I just drove across the border for a couple of hours for a bargain or a meal and returned that same day?

    • Technically Yes. But don’t get too obsessed with a few days here or there. You are only likely to get stopped if you are a habitual overstayer and you are clearly taking advantage of the rules and you have been doing so for a few years.

      Milan

  3. Hello,

    Your comments are very helpful.

    I am trying to calculate the number of days I have spent in Florida this year, and I have heard it is on a rolling calendar basis. So, if I leave Florida for Canada on April 21, 2011, do I count the days that I have been here from April 22, 2010?

    If my number of days is between 170 and 180 on this rolling calendar basis, will I have trouble getting back into the US next November?

    Thanks you,
    Joan

    • Joan:

      Forget the rolling calendar basis. There are two easier ways to do this. 1) If you stay in the United States (and it’s not just Florida, but any other place you may have been in the U.S.) for more than six months consecutively, you are in contravention of U.S. rules and you may be prevented from entering for a given time, if the border agent notices and makes an issue of it. It’s certainly not automatic that they will do so. 2) Another way is to calculate all of the days you have been in the U.S. in 2010 in aggregate, or will be in 2011, and if it’s over six months, you are also technically in contravention. In the U.S. they go on a month to month calculation–not the actual number of days. So if you have left Canada on April 21, you can stay until October 21, (six months) even though that totals 184 days. But also remember that you must be physically present in your home province for a given period to remain eligible for your medicare. In most provinces that is 183 days. In Ontario its 153 days, in Newfoundland, four months).

      Milan

    • Honestly you may want to research this more then asking people online, i see alot of monkey see monkey do online, you hear from one perosn, tell the next without doing any homework. no offence to anyone, im in the same boat, but just do more research on this.

      http://www.grasmick.com/snowbird.htm

      “Discard this common misconception: “As a snowbird visitor, immigration rules force me to go back to Canada for six months before I can come back to America. I can only stay in the U.S. six months a year.” This is false. There is no immigration prohibition against leaving and returning right away. Of course, without a green card, Canadians cannot intend to reside permanently in America. If you keep turning around and coming right back without staying in Canada, immigration may assume that you have permanent intent. Nevertheless, there is no automatic obligation to wait six months in Canada. (Tax rules may differ.) ”

      M.

      • Hi Marcus. I read your response re snowbirds not having to stay in Canada for 6 months before returning to US. I was under the impression that since I spent 6 months in US I cannot return until I’ve been in Canada(home) for 6mos. Are you saying I can go back even after only 4 mos or so?I thought border patrol would not allow me in. Thank you for your help.

        • Hi,
          I have read all of these Q & A’s and am still confused! I live in BC but am planning on spending part of each year in Panama. I know that, due to medical you have to only be gone from Canada for six months but do you then have to stay right in Canada for six straight months? Or can you just go back for three or four months and then your six months away starts over again? Also, my concern is not the medical coverage but my Old Age Pension. I have heard that you can only be away from Canada for six months or they will take away a portion of your pension. So I have the same question again. Does that mean you have to stay in Canada for six consecutive months per calendar year or just that you can’t be away from Canada for more than six months at a time?

          • Larke:

            I don’t know why you are still confused after reading this answer dozens of times. But here we go again: You must reside in B.C. physically for a total of 183 days per calendar year. A calendar year is from January 1 to December 31. You can do that in one stretch or in severaL shorter ones. There is no requirement that after you return from a trip you have to stay in B.C. for six months.

            As for your old age pension, I am no expert on that but I believe that so long as you are entitled to receive your old age security, you can receive it whether you live in Canada or not. Temporary absences will have no effect on that.

            I am more concerned that you didn’t ask about travel health insurance to cover your stays in Panama. If you get sick in Panama and you want to get back home to B.C. it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg–if you have the good fortune to be able to secure a hospital bed in B.C. when you need it.

            Milan

          • I just got off the phone with Caitlyn from US Customs and Border Protection (was on hold for 38 minutes). She said that to be on the safe side, Canadians should stay no longer than 180 days in the U.S. in any given year. I asked about a rolling year or calendar year and she said that was totally at the discretion of the Border Patrol Officer. Some use a calendar year and some use October to October for example. She made it VERY clear that the specific agent you get is the boss and whatever formula he uses is the right one, so don’t go over 180 days. She said she has heard of Canadians being denied access for up to 5 years as a result of going over our allotted time.
            Hope this helps… Milan has already answered the question 62 different ways, so my 2 cents are pretty redundant.

          • Jeff:

            Very good advice. The agents think in terms of months, not days, and you say six months–most people think in terms of 180 days. But it is also true that border agents apply their own standards, because the legislative language that established these rules allows such leeway, and it referred to months, and not days.

  4. In 2010 we spent 171 days in the US in addition to this we flew to Costa rica from the US and spent 14 days there.
    2 Questions
    1/ Do the 14 days get added to our US stay, because we flew from the US and not Canada?
    2/ Have we not met the requirements t retain our Alberta Health Care?

    • Dan:

      The 14 days will be considered part of your US trip, as you left from a US destination. Our friends at the Canadian Snowbird Association, who also study these issues, add that you must stay out of the U.S. for more than 30 days in order to have these side trips deducted from the U.S. total. As for your second question, technically, you will have contravened the Alberta Health Care residency reguirement as you will have been out of your province (note the word Province) for a total of 185 days. Let’s hope you don’t have any nosy neighbours.

      Milan

  5. If I went home from Florida for a week to 10 days over Christmas can I start my time over again. I do not plan to stay for 6 months more but I would like to add a few weeks on before going back to Ontario.

    • Laura:
      That all depends on how much time you spent in the U.S. (not just Florida) before you returned to Ontario for Christmas. If you spent a full six months in Florida–then returned for a planned long stay a couple of weeks later, the U.S. border agent might get very suspicious you are spending more time in the U.S. than Canada and give you a problem. If you only spent a couple of months in Florida before Christmas and said you were returning for the remainder of your vacation, you wouldn’t have a problem. Do your calculation: how many days in total have to spent or do you plan on spending in the U.S. in each of the two years you are referring to. If it’s more than six months in either of those years–you have overstayed. One other thing to be careful of, if you spend more than 212 days out of each or either year out of Ontario, you risk losing your OHIP benefits.

      Milan

  6. Milan, you seem very knowledgeable on this topic, the OHIP things is a big factor of course.

    Thanks!

  7. Hi there,

    If I spent 6 months in the us and would like to return fora graduation in September (only back to Canada for 5 months) can I return for a week then

    • Sheila,

      I assume, since this is only April, that part of the six months you spent in the U.S. was attributed to 2010. In that case, since you have not used up six months this year you should have no trouble going to the graduation in the U.S. for a week. If in doubt use this rule of thumb: don’t spend more than six months in the U.S. in any given year, either in one consecutive stretch or in shorter individual segments. And don’t try to cram in a six month stretch at the end of one year with another six month stretch at the beginning of the next. There is no rule that says you have to spend six months in Canada before embarking on another trip to the U.S., but don’t give the border agent the impression that you are spending more time in the U.S. than in Canada. Border agents have a lot of authority, and if something doesn’t smell right to them, they can turn you back and there’s not much you can do about it.

      Milan

  8. I was wondering if the boarder is going to give me heck for being out of Canada and in the US for 5 months.
    I am ready to head home and is just wondering if they are going to to wonder why I was out longer then what I had told them. But I will be entering Canada from another boarder crossing then the one I had entered the US. Will they have problems with me bring back more clothes and stuff then what I had came down here with.

    • Penny,

      You are allowed five months in a year in the U.S.so you should have no problem. As for what you are bringing back, so long as you didn’t exceed your Canadian allowance for purchases, or are not bringing anything illegal back, you should be fine. The U.S. allows you to be in the country for up to six months a year, either in one continuous stretch or in smaller segments. Remember that if you go back to the U.S. again this year.

      Milan

  9. I don’t understand the rational behind travel limits imposed by the Provinces.

    If I am paying my B.C. provincial medical premiums, but not taxing the system (private travel insurance) when travelling in the US through winter, why should I be limited with travel within Canada for the balance of the year. I still require out of Province privateTravel Insurance while travelling in Provinces other than B.C.

    Can you clarify for my husband & I.

    Tks in advance

    • Jo-Ann:
      These are political decisions: so don’t look for common sense.

      But if there is any rationale, it goes something like this: Since the days when medicare was established in the 60s, the provinces retained the
      jurisdiction over health care, therefore it was their choice to set the eligibility criteria and they decided that medicare would be available only to permanent residents of their provinces. How do you define permanent residents? Those who live in the province at least half a year (183 days), except for Ontario which requires only 153 days and Newfoundland 122. You also must have a pemanent residence, etc. etc. in the province. In B.C it’s 183 days. It’s not a matter of taxing the system, so much as it is defining eligibility and that is a provincial call. Its part of the Canadian Health Act and its predeccesor Medical Care Act. Some provinces, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba allow some additional short trips beyond the six months, but B.C does not. Still, so long as we don’t have border cop at the provincial boundaries there remains some flex. It seems to me the common sensical thing would be to consider permanent residency the address from which you file your federal and/or provincial income taxes, but that would be too simple, and bureaucrats don’t now how to handle simplicity.

      Milan

  10. Hi there…My husband and I are heading home to Canada. I do know we are allowed 1 40oz. bottle each. My question is, if I wish to take more than the one bottle home, how do I know how much the duty would be on each extra bottle. I sincerely would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.

    • Now there’s a good question I can’t answer. Can anybody help me out? I do know this: you not only pay the Canada duty, but the provincial tax at your point of entry and that varies from province to province. So it will differ. But given what I know about the montrous price of liquor in Canada, even with those duties, it will be a lot cheaper. I can still buy a bottle of Canadian Club in Florida for far less than half theprice I pay in Toronto. One thing I do know for sure: don’t try smuggling it your golf bag or any other such conveyance. It’s almost a hanging offence.

      Milan

  11. As an example – I go to US on Oct.12 and return Dec.9. Then I return to US on Dec.31. Now, how long would I be able to stay in the US now. Can I deduct the 3 weeks from my 6months. If went to the US on a 1 week visit in the summer, how would that affect a return in Oct..

  12. Hello
    I’m Canadian. I’ve been trying to find information that I’ve seen on a Canadian government website that says you can apply to be out of Canada for two years or two and one half years every five years. Do you know where that is written on a Canadian government website and how to apply.

    I understand about provincial health care and purchasing health care while I’m not in the country and for 90 days upon my return to Canada, but really want clarification on the rules for not being present in Canada for a continual duration of time.

    great Q&A by the way
    thank you for your time.

    • Marilyn:

      All such rules are provincial so don’t look for the Canadian government to give permission. I know of no province that will allow you to be out of the country for two or 2.5 years out of every five and still retain your medicare. If you look at the current post on applying for long absences, you will see one year is the maxium and that is only allowed every few years–it varies from province to province. The exception is if you are a student, or are posted overseas for work, but even those folks have to return home occasionally. The point is that each province varies and you must call your health ministry (I don’t know which province you are from so I can’t be more specific) and ask them where to apply. But you must deal with your province of residence–not Ottawa.

      I don’t understand the second part of your question. Perhaps if you tell me which provnce you are from I could guide you better.

      Milan

      • In Quebec you can stay away a full calendar year every seven yrs

        • Edi
          Only if you first apply to the Regie and get permission ahead of time. And this is not available for routine snowbird type vacations. If you stay out for a year without having permission you can not only be in deep trouble with Regie, but with the U.S. government, which allows you to be in the country as a visitor for no more than six months per calendar year.

          Milan

  13. Milan
    Thank you for your response. I understand re the provincial rules and health care, however, I would not want to continue my B.C. medical while away. I live in B.C. I would purchase other medical coverage where I was.

    I read recently on a government of Canada website that I did not mark (unfortunately) regarding the length of time (years) you could be out of Canada. This in in regards to maintaining citizenship, but not to do with maintain your permanent residence card. It was speaking about whose who have citizenship. It has nothing to do with provincial medical coverage, so I likely have the wrong forum to ask my question.

    But, from what I recall is that if you make application you may be permitted to leave Canada for either a 2 yr or 2.5 yr duration in every 5 years, as long as you are in the country 1095 days out of the 5 years. A friend who recently purchased a home in Arizona first spoke to me about that rule and I did find it on a government website, but can’t locate it again.

    Marilyn

    • Marilyn:

      If you are a Canadian citizen at this time, you can stay out of the country for as long as you wish and you will not lose your Canadian citizenship. You don’t ever have to go back to Canada but you will still be a Canadian citizen. I am a Canadian citizen and I haven’t lived in Canada for over 30 years. I am also a U.S. citizen. One does not cancel the other out. And as a Canadian citzen you can always go back and reclaim you life as a resident of B.C. by living their consistently for three months. It’s that simple. The bigger question for you is where do you plan on going to live while you are out of Canada? YOu can’t just come down to the U.S. or any other country, for that matter, and set up permanent residency without going through a very rigorous and time consuming residency process. Getting a green card in the U.S. can take years. Any other country will allow you to stay as a visitor only for a relatively short period, usually 90 days, before you have to get a visa and file for permanent residency and that means getting a job there first.

      As for getting health insurance in a foreign country, that can be difficult unless and until you are a permanent resident. You can get some health insurance as an expatriate from Canada, but its benefits are quite limited and it can be quite expensive. I don’t want to be a downer, but moving from one country to another takes a lot of planning and it sounds as if that;’s where you need tro put your energies. But don’t worry about your Canadian citizenship. That’s yours no matter where and for how long you go.

      Milan

  14. How do you report someone who over stays their time in the US?

    • Dennis:

      Do you mean report them to the US authorities for contravening U..S immigration law, or report them to their provincial authorities for overstaying their out-of-country allowance? These are two separate issues with two separate authorities.

      Milan

      • Both, US authorities for contravening U..S immigration law, & report them to their provincial authorities for overstaying their out-of-country allowance. Or send me the web address of where to go. Thanks.

  15. Hi Milan,

    I have a question about my mother who lives in Calgary, Alberta, and would like to come stay with me in the united states for one year just to help me out with my newborn child. Would she lose her health care benefits in Canada if she stay out of Canada for longer than 6 months? She has been living in Canada for over 15 years and has never been leaving Canada for longer than 6 months each calendar year. I just don’t know if the 3 months stay in Canada to reclaim her residency will also help reclaim her provincial health benefits as well.
    Hope you can tell me more about this. Thank you.

    P.s. My mother is in the states now helping me with my newborn and she has been here for for 4 months already.

    Cammie

    • Cammie:

      Alberta allows longer stays–up to a year– in special cases, but your mother would have to apply to the health ministry.
      Since she has not travelled out of the country frequently in the past few years she might well qualify. Call the ministry and ask about special long-term out of province stays.

      Milan

      • Milan,

        Thanks for your prompt response. I really appreciate it . Will call the Alberta health ministry to find out more and hopefully my mother will be able to stay longer.

        Here comes another question. If my mom can stay longer, is it true that she can not stay in the states for over 6 months without applying for some sort of visa? And does it mean if she stays for less than 6 months, she is okay.
        Please advise.
        Thanks again.

        Cammie

        • Cammie:

          Your mother is allowed to stay in the U.S. as a visitor for up to six months per calendar year. Anything over that and she is technically in cotravention of U.S. law. So when she goes down, it is best not to give the impression she is going for longer than six months. If, however, she goes down for six months this year, then returns to Alberta for a few weeks or a month or two, and goes back down for another few months on her 2012 quota, that meets the six month per calendar year quota. I must also caution that she should be prepared to show the border agent that she has a permanent residence of Canada, that she fully intends to return, that Canada remains her tax home–in case he asks, but only if he asks.

          Milan

          • Hi Milan,

            Do you mean my mother can use the 2012 quota in 2011, so that she can stay in the states for over 6 months, but need to go back to Canada for a little bit soon after the first 6 month period before she can come back again for another 6 months?

            Please advise.
            Thank you.

            Cammie

          • Cammie:

            No. What I mean is that she is allowed 6 months maximum in 2011 and six months maximum in 2012. She can’t combine two quotas into one year. But you still have seven months in 2011, so she won’t be able to finish out the year with you if she leaves in early June. Also, it is not a good idea for her to use the 2012 six-month quota immediately after using her six months in 2011, without going home for at least a short time. A U.S. border agent would get very suspicious if she appeared to be heading down for 12 continuous months. She is not in a position to argue with a border agent about her “right” to quotas. As a bottom line: she should not try to enter the U.S. for one continuous year without returning home for at least a few weeks or a month or two.

            Milan

  16. Hi, we left BC on Nov 10th 2010 for AZ and got back to Canada on April 3. 2011 all most 5 months, would it be ok to do it again on the same dates. We heard that you should get an IRS form saying you do live in BC and own a house etc anything to that please let us know thankyou Lanny& Yvette.

    • Lannie:

      Yes to both your questions. You can do it again the same way next year as you have not contravened the US six month rule.
      And absolutely Yes: Do file the 8840 Closer Connection form with the IRS. The questions are simple and they clearly substantiate that you are a Canadian citizen with roots in Canada and do not pose a threat as an illegal. The 8840 should be filed each year. Carry a copy with you when you cross the border. All snowbirds should do this routinely. Now, to get the form all you have to go is go to http://www.irs..gov , and at the top right hand corner you will see a search box into which you type 8840 Closer Connection. Print out the forms, they’re free, and you’ll know you’re doing it the right way.

      Milan.

  17. Hello,

    We have a home in California which we purchased last year. We spent l75 days in the US up to April 8 of this year. We plan to do this for as many years as our health allows. We recently sold our big house and have bought a townhouse. The dilemma is that our new townhouse will not be completed until the end of January 2012. We must be out of our current house at the end of July and so we will rent something until we go to our house in the US in mid October 2011. If questioned at the border, will the border agent accept the contract for the new house (we gave a sizable deposit) as a reason for us to have a closer connection to Canada? We have filed IRS8840. All of our bank accounts, investments etc are in Canada. Thankyou, Margaret

    • Maggie:

      I am not clear on your question. You say you have spent 175 days in the US this year up to April 8. That’s not possible as that would account for only 98 days “this year.” Consequently you should have no problem meeting the six month quota requirement when you return to the U.S. in October. But keep it within six months “in the calendar year.” Remember that runs from Jan 1 to December 31. And the six months can be in one continuous stretch or in several shorter segments. Now, I assume that when you sold your big house and moved (or will move) into a townhouse in July, you meant in your home province, not in the U.S.? It sounds as if you are concerned that by transitioning from one home to another, with a rental in between, you are concerned about jeopardizing your Closer Connection to Canada. That should not be a problem because whether your permanent home is owned or a rental doesn’t matter so long as you can prove you have other strong links to Canada. That’s what the 8840 is designed to find out, and just the fact you have already filed shows you are aware of and are properly complying with U.S. law carries a lot of weight.. That is to your credit. One never knows what a border agent will ask, but I doubt you would have a problem establishing that you intend to return to Canada. Take your paperwork with you, but let the agent ask the questions first before you overload him with information.

      Milan

      • Thanks for your prompt reply. I guess I was a little vague in my note. I meant we spent from Oct 11/2010 to April 8 /2011 in the US. We have sold our big house in B.C. and will rent until Oct 15/2011 when we will depart the rental and go to the US for our usual winter retreat. Our new townhouse will not be finished until the end of January 2012. We will then come back to Canada and do the move etc and probably be back for a month. I guess we are worried that we won’t really have a residence in Canada (except for a construction site) when we cross the border. We will carry the paperwork of course on the new residence but we were wondering if an inquisitive border agent could give us a difficult time. Thanks

  18. I AM A RETIRED CANADIAN SENIOR LIVING IN ONTARIO AND MY AGE IS 89… I OWN A HOME IN TAMPA AND WOULD LIKE TO MOVE THERE ON A PERMANTENT BASIS..

    WHAT ARE THE RAMAFCIATIONS OF THIS MOVE AS FAR AS TAXES,, OHIP,, AND CAN I GET 12 MONTHS OF OUT OF PROVINCE HEALTH INSURANCE.

    THANKS

    JANE

    • Jane:

      Unless you have family in the U.S., or you have an ironclad job offer–which at your age is not likely–your chances of
      moving to the U.S. as a legal, permanent resident are minimal. Even job- worthy young people have a tough time getting a green card, and it takes such a long time I would not consider it if I were you. If by some magic you were able to make the move, you would lose your OHIP, you would be subject to all the normal taxes Americans are subject to, and though annual out of country health insurance plans are available, I doubt you would qualify at your age. Most of them cut off at about 65. Sorry I couldn’t give you better news, but that’s the way it is.

      Milan

  19. What I was wondering was how do they know, as far as I know, they don’t do a count when you leave. You don’t pass immigration and they don’t give you a stamp when you leave.

    • Sydney:
      Great question.
      U.S. immigration and customs authorities have for years been working on a system to check out visitors and other visa holders just as when they check them in. They have been working on various technologies but nothing has yet been implemented. But that doesn’t mean they are powerless in tracking your stays in the U.S. Because of tightened border security there is increasing sharing of data between Canadian and U.S. border authorities, so though you may not be “checked out” by U.S. border agents, you are “checked in” by Canadian agents. If, for example, you are travelling with a passport, the stamp clearly shows when you left the U.S. and entered Canada on your last trip, or even over a period of years. If you’re travelling by air, border agents can see the date of your return trip. Or they can check on the effective dates of your travel insurance. There are many other such paper trails that can document your travel patterns, and it makes no difference that you enter the U.S. at one border point and exit at another. The click of a computer key can handle that. Just remember that if they catch you contravening the rules even once, or even suspect you may have done so, they can ban you from entry for several years–depending on the infraction– or for life.

      • Hello Milan,
        You seem to know a lot about this issue. I have a question, I went to the US on Dec 13, 2010 and just got back on May 9th. I wish to go back to the US on June 9th. Does the 6 month clock reset because I was away for a month? Do I have to stay in Ontario for 212 days consecutively in order to maintain my OHIP? Your expert advise is greatly appreciated.
        Thanks!

        • Christina:

          First of all understand that Ontario does not require you to be in the province for 212 days (seven months) in a year. It allows you be out of the province for 212 days and it requires you to be in the province for at least 153 days in any 12 month period. That 153 does not have to be consecutive. Ontario does not run its clock on a calendar year basis as most other provinces do, but on any 12 month period. If you left Ontario last December and returned in May, you used up about 5 of your seven month out-of-country allotment for the past 12 months. Are you still with me? If you go to the U.S. in June again, you can’t restart the clock from that point. You will have about two months left before you must return to Ontario. The simplest way to do this calculation is to ask yourself at any given point: “Have I in the past 12 months been out of Ontario for more than 212 days.” If so, you risk losing your medicare.

          And another thing: if you’re spending that much time in the U.S. you’re contravening U.S. law which only allows you 182 days per calendar year. And if they catch on to you, they can ban you from entering for a number of years, or life. Definitely do the math.

          Milan

  20. I am a Quebec resident and would like to travel to the United States every two weeks while keeping my medicare and all other social securities. If I am unemployed, is this possible? If on unemployment am I allowed to travel into the U.S.? My boyfriend resides in Texas and is undergoing Chemotherapy and I would like to be there for him for as long as I can.
    Thank you for help
    Carla

    • Carla:

      Your unemployment status doesn’t matter to the Quebec government, so long as you don’t stay out of the country for more than 182 days per year–although Quebec is quite generous in allowing short trips. But your unemployment might be a problem to the U.S. border agent who likes to make sure that people entering the country have substantial reason to return home and are not looking to get into the U.S. to work illegally or for other reasons. You might want to have some proof that you have a permanent residence in Quebec or family ties or other guarantee of returning home. I am also concerned tha tyou say your boyfriend resides permanently in Texas. That might be a tip off to the border agent that you might plan on staying in the country beyond your 182 day quota.
      Be careful and be well prepared with documentation.

      Milan

  21. Hey everybody…. I know it might sound random…
    I’m not a canadian. I’m an artist from Romania( currently signing my deal in the states) but I was on a tourist visa and i stayed in the states for 6 months ( with a 2 month extension) …. I got back home because my label was not ready with the papers for my O1 visa … and so I’m here home waiting to go back ASAP in the states whenever is possible. Any ideas how long I need to stay home in RO before I can go back? i know each country is different .. but i can’t seem to find answers and my producer is Canadian .. he said i need to stay 6 months in the country of origin…. but my immigration attorney said it depends on how lucky i am… lol…. he said ” u can come back in less then 3 months, they can let u in or deny ” …. PLS help!!!! :-) Thank you!

    • Angelika:

      It sounds as if you are in the process of seeking a visa to work in the U.S. in which case you need professional advice as different visa categories entail different rules. The fact your producer is Canadian makes no difference. Also, the fact that you were working on a deal in the U.S. while you were there on a tourist visa contravenes U.S. law. You’re not allowed to do that under a tourist visa. So before you make any further application to the U.S. I suggest you get an immigration attorney.

      Milan

      • Hey Milan, Thank you very much for your response…. I had a singing competition and after that i did a few auditions at the record labels! :-) my manager said that auditions is not consider work as It’s not payed… and that’s the only way u get labels interested in signing you…. so after that i came back home… and the label is putting together a deal4 me !!!! :-))) I’ll guess i’ll just wait.. and get in touch with an attorney! Thank u a lot!

  22. We go across to the USA frequently for gambling at local casinos..
    i cannot begin to count the amount of small trips we have taken for the day.
    Add that to small vacations we make…how the heck are we supposed to add
    all these days up?
    And is this what we have to do….1. in a calendar year or 2. in a fiscal year?

    • Laurie:

      If you spend that much time in the U.S. you better start adding up the days. All you need is a calendar and a pencil. The U.S. allows you a total of no more than 182 days in a calendar year. Since I don’t know where you live in Canada I can’t tell you definitively how long you are allowed to stay out of your own province–provincial rules differ. Let me know, and I’ll tell you.

      Milan

      • we HAVE kept track…what is causing the confusion is that all these one day trips
        have just been advised that they count….and we were doing it based on last may to this may..
        and now thru reading this …is it january to january?….calendar year…..this would change everything
        for us…

        • Calendar year means January to January. I presume you are asking about the U.S. requirement and not your province’s requirement that you must spend a given period in your province in order to remain eligible for your medicare. Your question is not clear on that point.

          Milan

          • we are from b.c…..we know that we must spend 6 months in canada..what i am asking is
            whether the us time away is based on calendar year or fiscal year…as in today may 25 to
            may 25/2010

          • Laurie:

            Calendar year: January 1 to December 31.

            Milan

  23. Hi Milan,

    I recently went to the US for 5 months. I left in Nov and came back in April. My transportation was by plane, but when I first left I told them I was going for 2 weeks, however; I ended up staying for longer. Is this considered an overstay in the US? Also, do you think it will be a problem if I was to go to the US again anytime soon or should I wait for a little while before trying to enter again? What does overstay mean or consist of? When you leave do they put how long you leave in the system for? I’m wondering because I want to make a trip to the US again but this time only for a few days or a week long trip. I just don’t want any problems at the border for questioning.

    Thank you.

    • Susan:

      If you don’t want any problems, don’t tell them you’re going for two weeks and stay five months. That is very suspicious. If I were a border agent I would think you got a job and decided to stay for the season, and that’s definitely not allowed. You are allowed six months in the U.S. per year, from January 1 to December 31. According to my calculations you have already exhausted three to four months (depending when you returned in April). for this year. I don’t think you should have a problem returning to the U.S. because you did not overstay the six month limit. But the way you did it can get you into trouble in the future. And if you do work without visa authorization in the U.S., you can be banned from entering the country again–ever.

      Milan

  24. Milian:

    Thank you for your help and response. I really appreciate you answering my questions. Helped me in what I will be expecting next time I go across the border. Yes I understand that if I was to work in the US without a visa and the US finds out I will not be allowed in the US again. However, I wasn’t working in the US. I have a steady job here in Canada. Hope there won’t be any problems! Thanks again.

  25. I spend the winters in Florida and count up all my days so that I do not stay more than the 182 days allowed. I was in Florida from Jan1 to April15, then am going June 17 to June 26 and Aug, 26 to Sept 5 for a total of 136 days. We are booked on a cruise from Oct 21 to Nov 2. My question is do those days count?. We leave from Ft Lauderdale but are cruising in International waters and the ports are not all US ports. I want to stay as long as possible till I come home for Christmas.

    • Sharon:

      If your cruise is for less than 30 days, which yours is, it will count as part of your 182-day quota regardless where the ship sails.. If the cruise was for more than 30 days, it would not.

      Milan

      • Milan,
        Could you please provide further details? Why would it not count if the cruise was longer than 30 days?
        Thank you.
        Gisele

        • Gisele:

          Never try to figure out why bureaucrats do what they do. That’s just the rule. Maybe it has something to do with trying to discourage border hopping and being able to keep track more easily. But that’s just my guess.

          Milan

  26. I normally spend my alotted time in the US every year, but this year a planned simple surgery turned out to be cancer and I found myself undergoing chemo/radiation and overstaying my 183 days. I will be well enough to travel (I drive home alone) sometime within the next six weeks but will have to be back for follow up middle of November. This means that I will have spent nine months of 2011 in US. I would like to evoke the year away provision but how do I do that since I am already in the US. I am a Canadian citizen and live in Nova Scotia.

    Thank you for your help. Your information is the best I have seen.

    B. Ross-Ford

    • This is far too complicated a case to deal with in one question, but I will set some guidelines. First, I assume you are paying for this cancer/chemo therapy in the U.S. out of your own pocket as I can’t image any travel insurer doing so. Certainly the Nova Scotia health ministry wouldn’t be paying for this unless you have advance authorization from them. Also, invoking the special one-year absence retroactively is something I have never heard of. When you realized you would not be able to return on time, you should have notified the Nova Scotia health ministry to advise them you would be out of the country beyond your alloted stay. You may already have risked your eligibility for medicare in that province. If I were you, I would contact the health ministry immediately and try to sort this out. I hate to dump more bad news on you, but by staying in the U.S. much longer than your allotted 183 days, you may have a problem being re-admitted next November. There are some provisions for extending your stay shortly after a medical emergency, but it doesn’t sound as it chemotherapy–which is not a medically emergent situation–falls into that category.

      Milan

  27. Milan

    Gosh, when you have just been told you have a high risk cancer it sure feels like a medical emergency. I would so have loved to be treated in NS for so many reasons – financial, support system, etc. When I got the news I called my GP in NS only to find that the office was closed for winter vacations. I found it was impossible to make any treatment arrangements with an oncologist in NS without the intervention of a family doctor. I felt the only option I had was to get my treatment here which was far from pleasant since I am alone here and radiation and chemo isn’t something you would choose to go through alone.

    Because I was a US resident from 1969 until 1989 (when I married a Canadian and moved back to Canada) I am a medicare recepient – however, it has still cost me thousands of dollars out of pocket which will be reimbursed by no one and in the interest of saving my life, I accept that expense.

    From 1989 to 2004 my late husband was working and we did not leave Canada at all. After his retirement we came to Fla. for our allotted time until his death in 2007 and I have continued to come on my own. I have searched for an email address for the NS Health Ministry and been unssucessful . Can you offer any information on that? While I would want to stay with the same oncologists, if I can’t come back in November I will have to make other arrangements for follow up.

    Sorry this is so terribly long and I really appreciate your input. Thank you.

    B. Ross-Ford

    • I agree. Cancer does sound like an emergency and you do what you need to do to deal with it. For clarification: travel insurers only consider something that needs immediate treatment and stabilization that cannot wait until you can get home, an emergency. If you can get home, it’s no longer an “emergency.” Travel insurance does not pay for continuing or ongoing care such as chemo: that’s why I said I could not imagine an insurer paying for your care. You are lucky you had U.S. medicare as that covered at least the basic costs

      Here is an email address that will get you into NS department of health– DoHweb@gov.ns.ca

      Milan

  28. I am a Canadian snowbird who owns rental real estate in the USA and thought your readers might like to hear my thoughts about my investigation into USA tax law, as regards snowbirds who travel to the USA for extended periods each year.

    If Canadian snowbirds (retired persons) stay for 4 months or less, on average, each year in the USA then they are designated as non-residenta aliens and will not not have to report their worldwide income each year to the IRS. By comparison, resident aliens must report their worldwide income to the IRS.

    For a more exact determination of your non-resident or resident status, you might like to look at the following IRS graph which determines if you are a non-resident alien or resident alien for USA tax purposes. Please see http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/15023t02.html .
    and IRS publication
    http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/ch01.html#d0e437

    If Canadian snowbirds, on average, plan to stay in the USA for more than 4 months each year (for more than 3 years in a row), then one should be mindful of the USA income tax law that may capture you as a resident alien, if you don’t fill out and file IRS document 8840 each year. Document 8840 states that you have a “closer connection to a foreign jurisdiction”; namely, Canada. By filling out this form, you are asking the IRS to keep designating you as a non-resident alien because you have a closer connection to Canada than the USA. Therefore you will not be subject to reporting your worlwide income to the IRS.

    However, also be mindful that if you stay in the USA for more than 182 days in any calendar year, you may be captured as a resident alien and be subject to reporting your worldwide income to the IRS.

    So, if one is planning to stay, on average, more than 4 months each year in the USA (for at least 3 years in a row or more) , it behooves that person to religiously file IRS form 8840 each year, as a big part of proving that you have closer ties to Canada than the USA., and are therefore a non-resident alien and exempt from reporting your worldwide income to the IRS. You will, of course, still have to report to the IRS, any income obtained from renting out any of your USA owned real estate. The IRS rules state that If you don’t file form 8840 by the USA tax deadline each year, then you are precluded from relying on it after the fact.

    • Response from S.L. Richard Brunton, CPA, Boca Raton, Florida-based international tax advisor.*

      Mr. Duncan’s summary on TIF regarding U.S. residency for U.S. income tax is essentially correct. However to avoid your unwittingly becoming a U.S. resident alien for U.S. income tax it might be helpful to provide the exact U.S. income tax residency rules. If you are a non-U.S. citizen you become a U.S. resident alien if you:

      1) Meet the “substantial presence test” and do not file a valid Form 8840 (Closer Connection Exception Statement) by the deadline, or
      2) Possess a green card (even one for which the card itself has “expired”), or
      3) Elect to be a U.S. resident.

      The “substantial presence test” is a fractional computation of the numbers of days you are in the U.S. over a three year period. Certain individuals can ignore some of the days.

      Also, for clarification, even if you are deemed to be a U.S. resident alien under rules 1) or 2) above, you may be able to file a nonresident tax return in the U.S. under the provisions of the tax treaty. In this case you would not be subject to U.S. tax on your worldwide income (only certain U.S. source income) although you would have to disclose your worldwide income.

      Be sure to consult an international tax expert before proceeding.

      You may reach Mr. Brunton through this website or directly via rb@taxintl.com

  29. From Ontario. We go to Texas for our 183 days and now it is increased to 212 days. How do I get permission to stay in the US the extra time. We own a resort in Northern Ontario and are open May long weekend to Thanksgiving. It would help us to not have to come home and face snow in April if we could swing a few extra weeks.

    • Lia:

      The Ontario health ministry only allows you to extend your 212 days to a year, or sometimes longer, by special application–once every five years. And then they require you to spend a longer period at home for several of the next few years. In short, that extension is for special circumstances and not for the kind of flexibility you’re looking for. Now if you want to move to Newfoundland, you can stay out of the country eight months. In that respect Ontario and Newfoundland are the most generous.

      Milan

  30. Thank you for all the good info on this site .
    Question – ( Just curious about this ) How is the citizenship of a child born on a ship determined ??

    • Robert:

      That depends on the citizenship of the parents and the registry of the ship as well as the location of the ship. Too many unknown variables to give you an answer. But if the baby is born to Canadian parents and is on a Canadian ship, the child will be Canadian. Also, some countries will rfecognize dual citizenship, others won’t. If you can be specific, we might find the answer for you.

      Milan

  31. I hold dual citizenship Canada & Mauritius. My permanent address is in Ontario, canada. I’m just finishing 3 months vacation in Mauritius (place of birth). Going back to Canada on 27th July 2011. What do I use, Calender year Jan-Dec or Rolling year? I left Ontario on April 27th 2011. If the calender year applies, how long can I stay outside Canada, in Mauritius if I decide to travel back in the fall/winter of this year? What are my other options?
    Now I’m collecting CPP & OAS + I have OHIP. I don’t want to lose any of them.

    Thanks,

    Awaiting your reply,

    Laval

    • Laval:

      For Ontario you use a rolling year–you are allowed to be out of the province for seven of the past 12 months.

      Milan

  32. Lots of good info here. However, I was surprised to hear the time restrictions that you can be out of your home province extend to other provinces, i.e, if I live in B.C. and want to spend six months in Mexico but stop over in Ontario for a month, I can no longer stay six months in Mexico because the one month in Ontario counts towards my six months out of BC. How does BC Medical know I was in Ontario for a month, since there are no border crossings?

    • Rachel:

      You’ve got it right. B.C., requires you to be physically present in B.C for six months in the calendar year. If you decide to take an additional month in another province after staying in Mexico for six, you are technically in contravention of B.C’s rules of residency. You can either forego your additional trip to another province or stay a month less in Mexico, or trust that nobody will find out, which may be a pretty good bet. Some provinces give you a little additional time: Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec allow additional short trips in addition to the six months but B.C. doesn’t. How will they know? I agree its tough to monitor that–unless you have a very nosy neighbour or an envious relative–but I’m just giving you the rules.

      Milan

  33. I am a Canadian married to an American who has a permanent residence card for Canada but remains a US citizen. I collect Social Security like he does…and we both have medicare in the US. when we reside in Ontario for our six months we use OHIP for medical. Are we breaking any laws?

    • No problem. So long as you are legal permanent residents of Ontario and you reside there for the required time (in your case five months) you are entitled to OHIP. You are also entitled to use medicare when in the U.S. as you paid for it.
      Your husband’s U&.S. citizenship makes no difference.

      Milan

  34. Milan,
    Could you please clear up a few questions for me. One is regarding the 6 month rule in the USA for Ontario residents. I left for Florida on December 18th 2010 and returned to Ontario on April 29th 2011, a total of 132 days. I then took a short visit to New York City on May 18th 2011. Do the days from April 30th to May 17th (18 days) count toward my time in the USA despite returning to my home province before entering the USA again? Second, is the clock wiped clean on December 18th 2011 and does it start ticking again December 19th 2011 or the calendar year of January to December 2012?
    I have heard that one has to wait 30 days before re-entering the USA even for a single day of cross border shopping…..if they don’t wait the 30 days then that one day can actually count as the number of days since their last visit plus the one day of shopping. Let’s say they only waited 14 days between cross border shopping trips plus the one day of shopping, is this considered being in the USA 15 days of the 182 day total? Third, do you count the day of departure from Ontario AND the day you leave the USA as 2 days in the USA?
    Thanks
    Looking forward to your reply.

    • Stefan:

      Your trip to Florida for 132 days is one trip. Your trip to New York, another. The days between April 30 to May 17 spent in Ontario do not count as part of your U.S. 182-day allotment. Your days in the U.S. are counted on a calendar year basis, January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. You can use your allotment as one continuous trip of six months, or an aggregate of all of your trips in one calendar year.

      There is no rule that says you must return to your home province for 30 days before re-entering the U.S. for a single day of cross border shopping or any other reason. The day you cross into the US, even for a couple of hours counts as one day in the U.S. The day you leave the U.S. to go back to Canada counts as another. Think of it this way. Touch U.S. soil and it’s a day. But don’t get paranoid. U.S. border agents don’t think in terms of 182 days, but in terms of six months. Sometimes that can add up to more than 182 days if you pick the right months. Keep track, but don’t lose sleep over it.

      Milan

  35. I am currently working in the US under a L1B visa. I am from BC and was wondering if I still have to reside in BC for the 6 months to keep my medicare. Also I will be spending time in the states just visiting/vacationing which will put me close to the 182 day US calendar limit. My question is does the time working under the visa count as the 182 day limit for visiting or should I be concerned at all as my visa is good for 3 years.I will be returning to Canada for a few weeks in between working in the US.Total days working is around 153 and visiting 28.

    • Steve:
      The L1B is a non immigrant visa allowing a person with specialized knowledge to work in the U.S. for up to 3 years. It is a U.S. document. But your medicare status falls under B.C. rules. All provinces have some dispensations allowing residents who work, study, or are posted abroad, to retain their medicare status. But to be safe, you need to get an individual ruling from the B.C. health ministry that they will grant you such a dispensation, given your L1B circumstances. You need to get that defined first before you can determine if the 183 day in-province rule applies to you.

      Milan

  36. Hi Milan,

    My husband is working in the USA on a TN Visa. My daughter and I joined my husband here in Arizona without Visa’s. We simply told the border guard we were going to visit family and here we are. I am under the impression that as Canadian Citizens we (daughter and myself) do not require the corresponding TD Visa that is offered to spouse and immediate family of TN Visa holders. Now that we are approaching the 6 month mark, I am starting to doubt my original findings and was wondering if you have any knowledge on the matter. Do my daughter and I have to return to Canada to get the TD Visa’s within 6 months of residing in the USA?

    • Mandy:

      You need professional immigration advice immediately. When you told border officials you were going to visit family you were admitted under a visitor’s visa category, even though you didn’t have to file for any visa. You did not come in under a TN visa. You are in a vulnerable situation. You need to get an immigration lawyer’s assistance and advice.

      Milan

  37. If I have ample money can I extend the normal 6 month maximum stay in the US?
    And if so, do I have to leave the country to do it?
    I’ve no intention of working in the US.

    • Gary:

      No. You can’t buy your way in. You need to have a specific work visa or an investor’s visa, or a green card to establish that you are a legal permanent resident. Even family visa preferences are tough to get and take a long time.
      I wish I could give you better news, but the truth is the truth.

      Milan

  38. I’m a snowbird with a primary home in BC & a vacation home in Las Vegas & sisters in Vegas & California. I stayed there Jan 1-Mar 16, and Mar 28-Jun 9, 2011. Not realizing the 182 maximum stay per calendar year for Canadians, on Aug. 30th, I was riding in my sister’s car(she was returning to California) intending to enter. I was turned away with the advice to bring proof of residence. There was a lengthy Q&A with search of my purse and finger-printing. As I didn’t want my sister to be a lone person in the car, the next day, we were at the border again. The officer was someone assisting the previous Q & A, and without much ado, I was turned away again–after being finger-printed a 2nd time. I am listed in their system, for sure. The bills I brought meant nothing to him. I was told to stay 6 mths.
    My question is, on Dec. 6th, I intend to fly from Van (where I live). This time, I will bring my itinerary with return flights from Van to Cal & Vegas and credit card bills and grocery bills from June to Dec. I am listed as a resident alien because of small investments & previous rental home. Will I have problem entering this time?

    • S. Ling
      I don’t see how you can be registered as resident alien in the U.S. and still be a resident of B.C. there are clearly inconsistencies in your status which the U.S. border agents have identified. I think you need to get that cleared up with the U.S.authorities before you attempt to enter again.

      Milan

  39. Can I ask a question here? My husband and I are Canadian citizens and residents. We collect American Social Security and they sent us a Medicare card. I am under the impression that if we winter in the States, that we are NOT eligible to use their Medicare system even though they issued us a card. I think we have to be permanent residents over there right? It’s pretty confusing to me. Thanks for any answers I can get here.

    • Kathleen:

      No. So long as you have a Medicare card you are entitled to Medicare benefits even if you are not permanent residents of the U.S. and you are just visiting the country. Some hospital admitting personnel may not know that but you have to insist However, unless you have been paying your Part B benefits, you will not be covered for doctors fees. outpatient, clinic or lab charges. You will only be covered for basic hospital charges, and you will be responsible for deductibles, copayments and other limitations–as would any other Medicare beneficaries. To find out what these are, just tap U.S. Medicare into your search and you can survey that coverage easily.

      Milan

  40. If a person stays over the 183 days in the US and is threatened with having to fill out a US tax form, how do they charge you if you have no US income?

    • Marilyn,

      If you stay more than six months in the U.S. without a special visa or green card, you’ll be threatened with more than an income tax demand. If they catch you, they can ban you from the U.S. for many years. As a visitor you are allowed up to six months per calendar year, no more. If you spend substantial periods of time in the U.S. each year, you will be considered a resident alien for tax purposes. The way to get around this legally, is to file an IRS form 8840, which confirms you as having a closer connection to Canada than the U.S. If you spend a lot of time in the U.S. you should be doing this. The 8840 will explain to you how much time you can spend–over a span of years.

      Milan

  41. My girlfriend is from Canada, she was in Vegas for a week in April, and been in the U.S. since May 2nd.
    She is going back to Calgary September 24th. When will she be eligible to have 6 months of new time to spend in the U.S.? Does it start in April when she originally returned from Vegas, or does it began January 1st with the start of 2012? We just want to know the rules for entering and leaving Canada and U.S. so she doesn’t get put on a list for overstaying a 6 month period.

    Thank you

    • Jason:

      Add up the total number of days you were in the U.S. in any calendar year–that’s from January 1 to December 31. If it’s no more than six months, you’re OK.

      Milan

  42. I am a Canadian citizen living in Toronto and plan on visiting the US for 4 months starting in Dec ’11. During the course of the year (2011), I have taken 5 short trips to the US wherein I have accumulated a total of 77 days. I was recently laid off from my job of 25 yrs & have been collecting a decent separation package. This is what has allowed me to travel a lot this year. I am aware that I won’t be going over my allowed US visit limit. However, these are my concerns:

    1. Will the frequency of my short trips raise a red flag w/ CBP upon my upcoming visit?
    2. Will my current job situation have a negative effect in the eyes of the CBP? I have family, own properties, pay a mortgage & utilities to prove my strong ties to Canada.

    The freedom to travel to the US is appealing to me & I don’t want to lose it.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Rudolpho,

      You should have no problem. Just take additional documentation with you to show you own or rent property, have been in the same location for a while (like maybe phone bills or utility bills), and you’ll be fine. The frequency of your visits is not a problem as there are many people who go over for short visits such as ballgames or shopping more often than you do. And of course, don’t forget your passport. That’s the most important item.

      Milan

  43. I am a BC resident who goes to Arizona for the winter. ICBC in BC says its okay for vehicle insurance to be from BC but they say its up to Arizona if we should be licenced for Arizona, do you have an answer, we don’t want to find out we weren’t covered if we were in an accident.

    • Dave

      You have to confirm with Arizona Dept. of Motor Vehicles, but I haven’t heard of it becoming an issue before. There are many thousands of Canadian cars running the roads in southern Arizona now.

  44. Dear Sir;

    If I am staying in the U.S. overnight do I count this to be 1 day or 2 days?

    Thanks in advance

    • Wim,

      Two. The day before and the day after. But don’t get to anxious about a day here or there. The U.S. border agents normally count your stays in terms of months, not days.

      Milan

  45. Hi milan
    I am a Canadian citizen, I went to USA last July 19, 2010 and after 3 months of staying there month of October 20, I decided to go back home to Philippines and after 11 months I am planning to go back to USA, Is it possible if I will enter the US from Philippines and is there any problem going to be with that? I can’t go back to Canada because I have no home or relative to stay with there.tnx . Pls reply to my email.

    • Michu:
      Yes, I think you might anticipate problems getting into the United States. As I understand from your memo, if you have no home in Canada and you have not been there for over a year ago, the border guard agent will likely challenge your eligibility for entering the U.S. as a Canadian visitor. If you were entering from Canada and you could show that you have a close connection to Canada, bank accounts, home, rental, in effect that have lived there and are entering the U.S. only as a short term visitor, you might be OK. But entering from a third country after such a long absence would raise suspicion, especially if the Canadian passport is the only one you have. I suggest you go to the nearest U.S. consulate in the Philippines and get some guidance. You might also visit the Canadian consulate. They might help.

      Milan

  46. Hey Milan

    I’m a born Canadian citizen and i just married a US citizen a year ago. Which means i came to the US a year ago as a tourist and haven’t gone back to Canada since then. We did however, apply for my US immigrant visa and everything has gone through. I’m just waiting for my interview date which will be in Canada.

    But my problem is, we booked a cruise to Mexico last year thinking that everything would go through by this time and it hasn’t, and we can’t even cancel without losing a s**t load of money! We’re going in 2 weeks and they will be checking the passports there, and my passport has an entry stamp of July 2010! If they asked me why I have over stayed in the US what would be the best answer to give them?

    Also, would it be a good idea to take all my approval documents, just to show them some kind of proof of US Immigrant Visa petition?

    Thanks!

    • Faiza:

      I assume you are in the U.S. now and your passport is Canadian. You need to contact your U.S. immigration contact and ask for advice because it sounds to me as if you have already broken some U.S. rules re your tourist visa. Until you have completed your immigration process–which includes your interview in Canada– you are endangering your final approval by traveling internationally without proper documentation. What answer should you give if questioned about your tourist overstay? The truth. The smartest thing is forget the cruise until you are properly documented in the U.S. Right now, you can blow it all. Get advice real fast.

      Milan

  47. Hello Milan,

    I am a Canadian citizen in the process of applying for a Canadian OAS (Old Age Security) pension. The process is a very lengthy one (more than a year so far).

    One of the many rules governing the award of this pension is that one must be resident in Canada for the year preceding approval. Winter is approahcing and, with my arthritis , I would like to spend a few months in a warmer clime, However, I fear it will invalidate my OAS application. Will it?!?

    Any relevant advice much appreciated,

    Kind regards,

    Jim

    • Jim:

      That’s an interesting question. I assume you have been a resident of Canada for many years, or perhaps all your life. I believe the definition of residency for OAS eligibility is different from that of provincial health insurance eligibility. One is federal, the other is provincial. And so long as you remain a legal, permanent resident of your province, I don’t see how the feds can deny you. I also don’t how the feds would know you’re on vacation, but if you want to be absolutely sure, try calling the OAS (if you can get through).

      Milan

  48. Hello Milan,

    My husband is American with a permanent residence card for Canada. I am Canadian (and have not yet filed any immigration paperwork).
    We are going to the USA for just under six months. We have a return plane ticket, and residence in Canada and proof of work lined up (in Canada) upon our return. The work is seasonal. We are taking our children to Hawaii, where my husband will work for the six months. We have proof of a six month rental unit in Hawaii.  I will not work, we have two small children, and will possibly home school them. We have been unable to register their birth abroad, so they currently have no ssn’s. We will continue to pay for our msp while away and will get travel insurance. 
    What else will we need to consider? Do we need proof of  sufficient funds ? 
    We will drive to Seattle to fly out of, but I am concerned about what the border / customs person will say.  I want to make sure all our t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. 
    Appreciate any advice / comments !

    Annie

    • Annie:

      I am most concerned about your children not having social insurance numbers. It sounds if they do not have passports either, in which case you are asking for problems at the U.S. border and on your return at the Canadian border. Their nationality seems to be up for grabs and that is something border agents are acutely concerned about. Even when I travel out of the country with my grandchildren, I insist not only on their having passports, which they have almost since birth, but I have letters from both their parents allowing me to take them out of the country–and they have my name. Take care of the kids first.

      Milan

      • Thanks for the response. To clarify the children are Canadian, and have social insurance numbers and canadian passports. Since my husband is American we are trying to get ‘dual’ citizenship. They do not have social security numbers, we have been trying to get an appointment to register for birth abroad with the us consulate but this is not an easy task. I understand that this is the first step before getting an ssn. Currently we have not filed any of this paperwork.
        Thanks,
        Annie

  49. If I am going to the US for six months as that is the time allowed there, when I come back home to Canada how long do you have to stay in Canada for before going back to the US?

    • Krystal:

      There is no required time you have to spend in Canada before going back to the U.S. Just remember, you can’t stay in the U.S. for longer than six months per calendar year, in one stretch or several shorter ones. But don’t abuse the privilege.
      Don’t try to spend more than six months at a time in the U.S. Don’t plan on going from July to December, and then from January to June the following year. The border agents won’t look kindly on that tactic.

      Milan

  50. Thanks for all your helpful advice.
    We winter in SC from Jan to April inclusive each year, and are considering October and November in addition in future years. We own a condo as our permanent residence, but are considering renting it while we live on our boat from May until end of September to mid October. Can we still submit our condo as our permanent residence (we can return to it when we wish to)? It’s tough to indicate our marina as a permanent residence address…
    Thanks much!!

    • John:

      Your question is too vague. Is your condo in Canada or the U.S.? Is your boat in Canada or the U.S.? I take it you are Canadian citizens? More details please.

      Milan

  51. I am from Manitoba and I was told on the phone from someone at Manitoba Health that every three years I am allowed to be out of the country for 12 months….is this true???

    • Anne:

      Only if you first apply to the health ministry and get permission. Make sure you get some form of documentation, the name of the person, etc. If some clerk says you don’t need it, tell them that’s fine, but you’ll take the documentation anyway. All provinces allow residents to take extended out of country visits–each province has different rules and different allowances. But you need to get the permission ahead of time. You can’t just take a year out and say retroactively, that was my third year–”I’m allowed.” Get it documented before hand.

      Milan

  52. I stayed in the u.s for nine months last year on a six month visa. I have been in the country for five months now. I have a residency here in Sask and have a job that I work here that is seasonal. I’m I going to have trouble getting into the country when I go a see my girlfriend in Maine?

    • David:
      You say you had a six month visa? Were you working in the U.S?
      Canadian visitors don’t need a visa to enter the U.S. but they are only allowed a six
      month maximum. You overstayed that by three months and if the border agent finds out he can bar you from entry and impose some other penalties such as keeping you out of the U.S. for some time. On the other hand, he may not notice and let you get through. It’s a roll of the dice. But if I were you, I would play by the rules, otherwise your girlfriend may have to start visiting you in Saskatchewan

      Milan

  53. I’m interested in going to a NON ACCREDITED school for 4 months in the U.S. and this school isn’t allowed to hand out visas yet. i know that if going to school i need an i-20 visa but would that still apply if the school is not accredited?

    • Alex:

      You must be extremely careful about dealing with a non-accredited school as there are now a great many under investigation by the U.S. government for irregularities in dealing with foreign students. There are many schools exist only for foreign students for the purposes making money and nothing else. This is a tricky area and you ned to contact the U.S. State Department with specific details about the school in question. Put out no money and make no commitments until you do.

      Milan

      • Milan:

        I found you answering some questions concerning the US for different people and thought I’d ask you a question about my own situation. My b/f lives in FL and I want to move there but my understanding is that I have to have a job/job offer first then get a Visa to work there. Is there any other way I can get into the US to work or get there so I can find work while there? I was thinking of maybe applying to go to school in FL? Is this something that’s possible? Would I be able to get funding from Canada or would I have to pay for it myself? I have 23 yrs experience in the accounting field and 9 yrs in the property management field (included in the 23 yrs experience) but I do not have a designation in accounting. Can you please give me some advice? :(

        • Francene:

          Yes, you would have to get a firm job offer and then apply for a work visa. That’s tough, as unemployment in the U.S. is high and jobs are scarce. You might apply to go to school, but that school visa would not allow you to work. I don’t know of an y Canadian government agency that would pay for your schooling, if that’s what your question was. Moving to the U.S. legally is not easy. It usually takes a lot of time. So make no plans to move until your do all of your immigration requirements homework.

          Milan

  54. We’ve made a number of trips to MI. this year and we are now down to having just 7 days left in our 182 days. We are at present visiting Windsor Ontario and will be here for 2 mts.We are new grandparents with our daughter ,Twins, and son in law just across the boarder in Ann Arbor. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who can tell us the rules about sojourning . We only want to make day visits and return that same day. What are the rules?

    • Art:

      Any part of a day spent in the U.S–even a couple of hours, counts as a day and is part of your 182 day allotment. It’s no more complicated than that.

      Milan

  55. Hi, I just wanna ask. I got my P.R on June 22nd last year, now I’m at Philippines taking a vacation. I’ve been here since July 12, 2011. Just wanna ask, how much longer can I stay here? Thanks.

    • Arz,

      You’re allowed to stay out of your province of residence for up to 182 days for most provinces, except for Ontario where the limit is 212 and Newfoundland 243. But some provinces count that over a calendar year, some in the last 12 months. Since I don’t know which province you are from, I can’t give you a complete answer.

      Milan

  56. Hello Milan,

    I work on cruise ship and am away from home for 10 months of the year. Since my provincial health insurance is only valid if I’m in Quebec for more than 183 days, I’m required to go private. Despite my efforts, I have only been able to find insurance that works in conjunction with RAMQ. Do you have any suggestions on where I can purchase private health insurance? Thank you!

    • Erin:

      Yes, there are expatriate plans available for people who no longer qualify for their provincial insurance, such as RAMQ. I will copy this email to one of our special plan advisors to contact you.

      Milan

  57. I have a US partner of 5 years, am Canadian living just over the Border, we had been visiting back and forth on an equal basis and logging our stays in the US and Canada. In Aug. my partner was diagnonsed with Cancer and was rushed into hospital in Bellinginham with a near death Cancer compliacation in Aug of 2011.Since then he has been undergoing Chemo and I am his sole caregiver spending more time in the US then was my intention. During this crisis logging of time spent in the US became an issue not accurately logged. I fear I may be over my alloted time –is there anyway of finding out from Border Officials how many days spent? How can I protect myself from IRS taxation? Are there any rules or exemptions for compassionate reseasons -Appreciate any input -thanks Sharon

    • Sharon:

      Complicated questions. I’ll take them one at a time. I doubt very much border officials will give you a tally of the days you have spent in the U.S. They may have that number, they may not. But they’re not likely going to designate time to searching out an individual record, if in fact they have one on you.

      You can protect yourself from IRS by filing an 8840 IRS form which proves that you have a closer connection to Canada and which allows you to visit without paying U.S. taxes–unless you have actual revenue derived from U.S. sources.

      There is no compassionate grounds visa category.

      Milan

  58. My understanding is that if you spend more than 183 days in the US you may have to file with the IRS. Also,I unerstand that the formula used to calculate the number of days that you are allowed to stay is as following:

    1) The number of days stayed during the current year;

    2) Plus 1/3 of the number of days stayed during the previous year;

    3) Plus 1/6 of the number of days stayed during the second previous year.

    If the total of the above is over 183 days,you are required to file with the IRS.

    Is that correct ??

    • Richard:

      Not quite. Unless you have a green card or other form of permanent resident or visa status, you are not allowed to stay in the U.S. more than 182 days–regardless of any filing with the IRS. The formula you cite only establishes that you spend a substantial presence in the U.S. each year and you therefore are a nonresident alien for tax purposes. Which means the IRS intends to tax you–even if you spend less than 182 days per year.

      But because so many people ask this question, I am going to reprint exactly the IRS formula that determines “Substantial Presence” for tax purposes.

      You will be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes if you meet the substantial presence test for the calendar year. To meet this test, you must be physically present in the United States on at least:

      31 days during the current year, and
      183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
      All the days you were present in the current year, and
      1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
      1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.

      If you exceed this number of days you will be required to file a tax return with the IRS, unless you complete an 8840 IRS form which substantiates that you have a Closer Connection to Canada. If, however, you earn money from US sources such as investments or rental properties you will still have to file with the IRS.

      That is only one issue. The issue of how long you can stay in the U.S. is separate: You are allowed to remain in the U.S. up to than 182 days per calendar year–in one continuous stretch or several shorter visits. regardless of the substantial presence test.

      But in no case, unless you have formal immigration, green card or visa status to live in the U.S., can you stay longer than 182 days per calendar year–even if you want to give the IRS your money.

      Milan

  59. Would countries in Europe be similar to the US and Canada? I’m from Nova Scotia but I’m not that worried about my health insurance, I’d just like to know how long before the country I’m going to kicks me out. I’m currently undecided on the country, but I’d like to have a general idea for future reference.

    • Kenneth:

      Most countries in Western Europe that do not require visas will allow you to stay up to 90 days, but some will require visas. You must look up the individual country you are thinking about to get a definitive answer. The easiest way to do that is to click on Travel Reports and Warnings on our homepage, choosed the country you wish to search and scroll down to entry and exit requirements.

      Milan

  60. Can a Canadian lose their citizenship by staying away too long from his country?

    • Eugene:

      Generally, If you are currently a Canadian citizen, you will retain that citizenshiop no matter how long you are out of the country. If you lost that citizenship prior to 1977 by taking out citizenship of another country you will have lost that citizenship, but by a new 2009 law, you can regain.

      Milan

  61. I recently obtained a home in Arizona. I also own a home in Ontario. I am also lucky enough to be retired at the age of 54. I have gone back and forth across the U.S./Canada border with no concerns for years. I dediced this year to become a Snowbird for the first time in November 2011, I drove down to ARizona with the dog and live my girlfriend ( she is American ). We flew back for the holidays at Christmas and when we tried to return the U.S. border let her go through but denied me entry. They did not believe I owned a house in Canada or had any intention of returning because I was unemployed. Bottom line is I had to return to my home in Ontario and obtain the house deed, home insurance, bank statements etc. and show them. After that I was allowed to enter the US. Is there any way I can avoid this in th future?
    My main concern is they took my picture, finger printed me..this seemed rather extreme. Thank you for your repsonse…..

  62. I play poker as a profession and am wondering how other poker players from outside ot the US manage to stay in Nevada or California indefinitey. It seems that one should only be able to live in the US for 6 months a year based on your information.

    • Dave:

      These professional poker players make their living at the game and they very likely have visas allowing them to travel frequently between Canada and the U.S. to practice their trade–much as professional athletes or office managers or executives of U.S. branches do. You need to investigate the possibility of obtaining a visa that allows you to work in the U.S. You can’t do this on a visitors allowance. As a visitor, you are not allowed to work or otherwise earn money in the U.S.

      Milan

  63. My husband and I entered the U.S December 23, 2011. Does the 182 day count start then , or does it start January 1, 2012? We were hoping to stay Jan, Feb., March and April, return to Ontario and then come back to the U.S. for September and October.

    Thanks

    • Marge:
      The count starts in January, but to be on the safe side keep your total down to 182 days in total because not all border agents use the same criteria. Many use their own judgement and you may get some agent who backdates you to Dec. 23 2011 and you don’t want to get into an argument with them–not for a seven day differential. It’s not worth the hassle. They are getting more strict these days so give it a little leeway.

      Milan

  64. I heard that a Canadian acquaintance was told he had overstayed the new 90 day maximum in Florida. He said that Obama had passed another law secretly.

  65. Milan: I know you have beat this topic to death, but one more question. Assume one is still working, has a second home in the USA, travels to the USA on occasion for work purposes and also spends personal time at that their USA home. Do both the work days and personal days get added together for the substantial presence test and the total count of days spent in the USA? Assume your not on any permanent assignment and a visa is not required for these trips.

    Thanks
    Stephen

    • Stephen:

      Too many unanswered assumptions. If you are doing any work in the U.S. without a work visa, it doesn’t matter how many days you are there: if the border agents get on to you, you are out–even if it’s less than six months. The substantial presence test is designed for non-resident aliens, not people who work in the U.S. If you have a visa to work in the U.S. or a NAFTA visa, then the conditions of that visa apply and you can come and go as you wish. A permanent assignment is not the key: if you are doing any work or making any money in the U.S. and you don’t have a visa, you are breaking immigration law.

      Milan

  66. Hello Mr Milan Korcok,
    I heard from a friend, that people who travel to Colombia for more that 2 month will not be allowed enter to Canada, even if they are Canadian citizen. It’s that true ?
    He say: “this is a new law from immigration ” and my friend know 5 people who are in trouble to come back to Canada because of this new law.

    • Carlos:

      I know of no such law and there is no such restriction noted in the Canadian government official website as of this morning. There may be other reasons why these people were refused re-entry, but for a Canadian to be refused re-entry to his own country is extraordinary. I don’t know where you live, but there are Colombian consulates in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and I am sure they can clear this up for you if you contact them. I will make further inquiries, however.

      Milan

  67. Hi Milan,

    I wanted to become a part of a ministry in the states for a few months (based in Indiana… I’m from Ontario). Basically the plan was to be gone for one semester (Sept-Dec) touring around with the ministry to highschools across the States. However, the program changed and is now a 9 month program (September – May). Is there ANY way that I can apply for something to still make this happen? I will be 18 at the time and paying to attend as an intern.

    Thanks, Marissa.

    • Marissa:

      You have to apply to the U.S. State Department for a visa. This sort of student or intern activity is not covered by the normal six-month allowance for visiting Canadians. You will be either a student or working and that takes you out of the visitors’ category. Yours is not a unusual request though, so you should be able to get a quick answer from your nearest U.S. consulate. I don’t know where you live so I can’t direct you. Good Luck.

      Milan

  68. What does the year look like? January to December? If I left in April does it go from April to April? I am a Canadian citizen. I know the rules for health insurance in Ontario….I need to be home 182 days. But if the health care was not an issue would the States allow say 200 days across as a snowbird? Thanks

    • Lorrie:

      The year runs from January 1 to December 3. And you are required to be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days (not 182) within the previous 12 months–whether you are a Canadian citizen or not. But that has no effect on the U.S. law which allows you up to six months per calendar year (Jan through Dec.) These are two, separate, sets or rules.

      Milan

  69. I’m Canadian. as a visitor I can go to US for 182 days (6 months). The other 6 months I stay in Canada as I have a home there and several ties.
    I have 3 questions: 1.can I go to US for 182 days and while I’m there can I work for a Canadian company.. via internet (its no difference if I was in working in Canada.. I would be able to enjoy being in the US and make money through the Canada company.. my pay check goes directly into a Canada bank.. and I pay Canadian taxes).. Is this ok?
    2. can I stay in US 182 days, work for a Canadian company via internet while in the US, and if I went to school full time could I stay in US all year?
    3. if I go to school part -time or full time, can I stay in the US (Arizona) all year ? can I still work part time for Canadian company via internet?
    Thanks, Sally (I’m 38 and I would like to go back to school & in US (AZ), I could if I’m able to continue to work for Canadian company via internet while in US.. which would help pay for my school fees)

    • Sally:

      Your first question is interesting but I would need to know more about what you are doing while in the U.S. If, for example, you are interacting with Americans, seeking out clients or selling to them, that would possibly not meet the test. The fact you are being paid directly into a Canadian bank account, does not mean you are exempt from U.S. laws. The visitors allowance is for tourism or visitors only, and if the border agent feels you are becoming more “connected” to the U.S. than Canada, he or she can turn you back.

      On the questions relating to studying in the U.S. the answer is No. You cannot study in the U.S.unless you have a student’s visa, and there are many categories of students visas–some full time, some part time, most of them requiring that the school at which you are enrolled is certified to accept foreign visa students. And if it is and you can get a student’s visa, that still does not allow you to work in the U.S.

      Milan

  70. Dear Milan,

    My parents are Canadian Citizens (74 and 66 yrs old) and would like to spend the winter in Texas USA where my sister and brother reside. My bother is a Permanent Resident in the USA and my sister a USA Citizen.
    My brother owns two houses and would like my parents to live in one of them during the months that they are there.

    Are my parents allowed to reside in the USA for no more than 6 months at a time and are they allowed to take with them their household items. (furniture, etc)

    They own a house in Canada. I know you have to prove that you can support yourself in the USA, they have some little income but my brother will be their sole supporter in the USA.

    How can they go about that?

    • Maggie:

      There is no reason your parents can’t spend the winter in Texas with their family “as visitors,” the way other snowbirds do. But no more than six months. If they own a house in Canada and have other connections to Canada and if they intend to return their each year, they should have no problem. However, I would not suggest moving their furniture there. That is clear indication to any border agent that they are doing a permanent move and that won’t be acceptable. I say, forget
      the furniture and I would certainly not suggest to anyone that their son will be their sole source of support. The best way to establish that they remain Canadian residents is to file an IRS 8840 form that establishes they have a closer connection to Canada.

      Milan

  71. Hi,

    I was wondering if you can help me understand how I can stay in the USA for 10 months for an unaccredited course where they do not facilitate visas. So I’m guessing I’d be a tourist allowed to stay 6 months. I live for the past 3 years in Ontario as Canadian citizen, though my Father lives in the USA near to where I plan to study. I don’t mind coming back to Canada for a few days to fly back if needed, but I can’t stay away from the class for more than 3-4 days. Thank you very much for your generosity in offering all this important information to us all. Lisa Canada

    • Lisa:

      You cannot use your Canadian tourist allowance for studies in the U.S. except for the following situation:
      “If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study that is recreational, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so on a visitor (B) visa. If your course of study is 18 hours or more a week, you will need a student visa. When traveling to the U.S. to attend seminars, conferences or a program of study for academic credit then you will need a student visa.”
      I don’t know if that applies to your situation, I suspect not. There are many visa categories, I suggest you explore the U.S. State Department–maybe call the U.S. consulate in Toronto and ask them if there are any niches you can fit into. Good Luck.

      Milan

  72. Hi Milan Korcok,

    I am a Canadian citizen and have a house in Arizona. Figuring out the “rules” around how long I can stay in the USA is confusing at best. There seems to be abundant misinformation out there. I have found your site very informative. I have two questions that I have not seen brought up in this discussion; both I have been told are fact but cannot seem to find confirmation. Firs,t I have been told the 182 days for a Canadian allowed to stay in the USA is during a calender year OR any rolling 12 month period. Second, that during the 182 day period any time returning to Canada must be for a period longer than 30 days for the clock to stop ticking on the accumulation of days. I would appreciate your comments on these two points. Thank you.

    Wayne

    • Wayne:

      It’s not complicated. But it’s not totally black and white either because border agents have a lot of discretion in determining who they will allow into the country if they are not satisfied the travellers is legit. The rule is 6 months per calendar year, but if you try to stitch two of those six month periods together the border agent will figure you are trying to game the system and deny you entry. He can do that. The border agent must be convinced you spend more of your time in Canada than in the U.S. and that you have more of a connection to Canada. On the other part of your question, what you may be referring to is the “home for Christmas” rule. If, while you are snowbirding in the U.S. you decide to go home for Christman, or any other reason, if your stay in Canada is for less than 30 days, it will count against your overall six-month allotment. If your stay is for 30 days or longer, it will be considered a new trip.

      Milan

  73. Hi,
    My company is looking at relocating me from Canada to the US for a permanent position. They will take care of all the legalities and paperwork for me but I am wondering about my girlfriend. She is going to be working as a consultant for companies in Canada only and will also keep her property in Canada. She will be regularly visiting me in the US and staying for extended periods of time. Does she still have to abide by the 183 days or can she stay longer?
    Thanks,
    Luke

    • Luke:

      So long as she is a visitor, she has up to six months–no more. And if she intends to do any work in the U.S. (consulting is work), she needs a visa for it.

      Milan

  74. I am a nanny for a Canadian family that winters in the US. I was here in 2011 for just over 5 months, 2012 I will be here from Jan till mid May and then have to come back in September. My salary is paid by a Canadian company. Do I have to fill out any forms for the IRS or pay taxes in the US????

    • Natasha:

      You need to contact a tax advisor who deals in cross border issues. What you describe is not covered by the the six month visitor’s allowance. If you don’t know of one, I can recommend one.

      Milan

  75. Hi, I’m planning to go to the u.s. for a while. According to you, I’m allowed to stay in the states for 6 months max. After i come back to Canada within that 6 months limit, can I go back to the states right away? or i have to stay in Canada for a while before i can leave to the states again? If i have to stay in Canada for a while, how long do i have to stay for?

    Thanks,
    Linda

    • Linda:

      I suggest your mother take her case to the Ombudsman for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI), a national organization set up to handle grievances such as hers. She will get an independent hearing and it is free. You can find OHLI on the web.

      The sytem is not designed to make victims out of its clients. If it were it would not last long. I can’t comment on the fairness of the insurer in assessing your mother’s case as I have not seen all the details and how she answered the questions put to her. But certainly it is important to answer all questions accurately as that is all the insurer has to go on in deciding whether to provide coverage. For that reason I recommend that any senior who has a chronic condition requiring consistent treatment or is on several medications ask their doctor to help them complete their medical questionnaires, even if they have to pay for it.

      You ask if there are any insurers who examine applicants medical records before application? No. They couldn’t possibly do that for the 22 million trips Canadians make out of the country each year. They rely solely on the information provided to them in the questionnaires. They guarantee coverage only if the information they were given was accurate, and often that does not come to light until after a claim is questioned and they examine the clients medical record.

      Milan

      • Hi,

        I’m sorry but i think your response didn’t answer my questions. I asked:

        I’m planning to go to the u.s. for a while. According to you, I’m allowed to stay in the states for 6 months max. After i come back to Canada within that 6 months limit, can I go back to the states right away? or i have to stay in Canada for a while before i can leave to the states again? If i have to stay in Canada for a while, how long do i have to stay for?

  76. I have been reading your answers and would like to clarify with you a point that you made regarding a Canadian citizen residing in United States. My boyfriend lives in Washington State. I have been traveling from Victoria B.C. to stay with him and these visits have been increasing in time spent in the US. Starting the new calendar year in January 2012 if I stay with him for up to 6 weeks is it cumulative to the 6 months allowed unless when I return to Canada I stay for at least 30 days at one time? If I do this does the time clock start over again when I return to the states? I spent 118 days at his home last year. So far this year I’ve been here 31 days. I am retired and have Canadian pension income and own a home in Victoria B.C.

    • Robyn:

      I don’t fully understand your question but the bottom line is that you cannot spend more than 6 months in the U.S. in total in the time frame of one calendar year–that is from January 1 through to December 31. No matter how many times you go back to Canada or for how long you go back to Canada. The fact you own a home in Victoria and you are a Canadian pensioner makes no difference.

      Milan

      • Thanks for your reply Milan. I read one of your previous replies where you referenced the “home for Christmas” rule. This is what I wanted to clarify. If I stay in the US for 35 days and return to Canada for 30 days or more then return again to the US is this considered “another trip” allowing up to a maximum of 6 months stay in US this trip or would each trip length of stay in US be added to the next trip in that calendar year until the limit of 182 days was reached? Sorry to be so “thick” but I am confused.

        • Robyn:

          It’s considered a new trip and your 182 day clock starts to run from your re-entry to the U.S. But don’t forget to add the previous 35 days you spent in Canada to your previous year’s total. The rule of thumb is to add all your days in the U.S. (beginning, middle or end of your trip) so you come up with a total of no more than 182 per calendar year. The border agents may question you, that’s their job. They have a lot of discretion and to them the main point is that you live permanently in Canada, have every intention of returning, and are not working or making the U.S. your de facto residence.

          Milan

  77. A non-profit Christian ministry has three Canadian workers who came down and are helping man the phones, work with duplicating videos, etc. As I understand the law they will have to return to Canada before 6 months is up from the time they came to the US. They are enjoying their work and would like to stay in the US. They are currently volunteers being provided with Room and Board but the possibility exits to pay them if that would help them qualify for a VISA. Two questions (1) how long do they have to stay in Canada before they qualify to return to the US for another 6 months visit? What is the best type of VISA to apply for in this situtaiton and how complicated is it.

    Thanks

    Paul

  78. Milan,

    It looks like from going back and reading the responses to other questions that you have addressed my first question, you have also raised one I was not aware was an issue, i.e. whether these three men would be considered to be “working” in the U.S. As I said they are not being paid and don’t have any assigned duties they are just staying at this minsitry house and volunteering to do whatever needs to be done. Do you think this violates the law?

    What type of Visa do you think would work best in this situation? Where do I start.

    • I’m not a lawyer and I certainly would not offer legal advice. But from the description of what these men are doing, they clearly are not just visitors.
      They have duties. They are getting room and board in return for their “work.”
      There is enough of a grey area that you need professional advice now, before they jeopardize their status.

      Milan

  79. Thanks, I’ll pass that along.

    Looking over the Work Visa’s I don’t find one that would cover someone who comes here to do a job that there are plenty of qualified people in the U.S. workforce who you could hire to do it. I’ve looked at the NAFTA job catagories and the special provisions for employers to hire people from outside the country to do jobs we have shortages of qualified labors to perform here.

    So from my limited search there doesn’t seem to be a work visa for someone who has a job offer to come here and do non-skilled labor. Is there any other VISA catagory that I am overlooking that might work?

  80. Can you please recomment a tax advisor for cross border issues so I may direct my question above to them.
    Thank you

  81. Milan : My wife & I are 5yrs away from retirement & have both a travel trailer & a cruising sailboat in the family…both were purchased in Canada.

    As we will be retiring during 2017…our plans are to spend the winter of 2017/2018 in Florida with the trailer, returning home to Ontario in the spring (April) just as many “typical snowbirds” do.

    We will be spending the spring & summer getting the boat ready & are planning to shove off in late August 2018 to head south from the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal & New York…then down the east coast to the Chesapeake Bay…& then down the Intra-coastal waterway to Florida.

    We may (depending on weather) sail across to the Bahamas for a month or two, before we return to Florida and start back north toward home.

    It is our hope to spend a few years repeating this “south then north” cruising itinerary, until we get bored of it, and thereafter we’ll just sail in the Great Lakes in the summers & head south with the trailer as all the other snowbirds do.

    I have three questions…& (of course) it deals primarily with our plans to go cruising on the sailboat, which can only travel about as fast as an ambitious riding lawn mower…

    1) Will we need some sort of “cruising permit” from Ontario, Canada or the USA, that will satisfy the authorities so that we won’t be hassled while we’re away from Ontario, or suffer complications upon our return.

    2) Is there a way for us to maintain our medical OHIP coverage even though we’re away ? I recall hearing of another sailor obtaining an “away from Canada” permit…which apparently allowed for this.

    3) I recently heard some talk about the “need to return” to Canadian soil for some reason…which will be impossible when we’re away with the sailboat.

    As we live in Windsor (& to facilitate day-trips across the border) we recently obtained Nexus cards, which identify us as “low risk” travelers, as we are often back & forth on shopping trips, or weekends away with either the trailer or the sailboat.

    There is ample proof of our Ontario citizenship, & we have no real estate or investments in the USA, so there is no doubt that we are 100% Canadian.

    I look forward to your comments & thank you in advance for your response.

    Paul.

    • Paul:
      One by one.

      1) I don’t know anything about cruising permit requirements so long as you have proof you are Canadians, which obviously you do. I know of many Canadian who do what you are intending and they don’t seem to have any problem so long as all their documents, are in order. Your Nexus card will help on that too. But to be on the safe side, contact some boating organization, they’ll know about any strange rules.

      2) You can maintain your OHIP eligibility by being physically present in the province at least 153 days within the previous 12 month period–either in one stretch or in aggregate amounts. It sounds as if your schedule may be pushing those limits, so keep them in mind, and document your exits and entrances to Ontario–not just Canada, but Ontario. I know of no such thing as an Away from Canada document–you are away when you are away. You don’t need permission to leave Ontario. But you do have to account for the length of time you are out of your province if somebody suspects that you have not been home for at least 153 days a year. Got any nosy neighbours?

      Also, the U.S. allows you to stay in the U.S. as a visitor, or sailor, only up to six months a calendar year and you will be expected to prove that, especially if you travel from the U.S. to the Bahamas or the Caribbean for any extended periods. If you plan on entering U.S. waters in August and not leaving them until April, you will be well over the U.S. unless you can prove where you have been and for how long. Do your planning well. Also, don’t let your visits across the river from Windsor cut you back on your U.S. 182 day allowance. Each day you spend on land in Michigan or Ohio is a day less you can spend on the high seas.

      3) Same answer as Question 2. You need to be physically present in your home province, not just Canada, for at least 153 days to retian your medicare.

  82. Hello Milan,

    My boyfriend who is Canadian is currently living in New York on an OPT status and is going back to Canada on March 1st right before it expires. He plans to come back to New York on a visitor’s status for six months after that to be with me. Is there a certain amount of time that he must stay in Canada before he can come back to the states? What’s the average amount of time a Canadian must stay in Canada once their OPT (or otherwise) expires before they can be re-admitted to the US as a visitor-only? Is it solely up to the individual guard’s discretion or are there certain guidelines (must stay for a week in Canada, two weeks, a month, etc.)?? Thanks!!

    • Christina:

      Though your boyfriend is in the U.S. on an OPT (optional practical training status) it may be a problem if within days of returning to Canada he seeks reentry to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa primarily because the border agent may wonder if he really has a permanent home in Canada. the agent has a right to deny entry to a visitor if he is not convinced he intends to return to Canada or doesn’t have permanent roots in Canada–such a a residence (rent is OK), or pays taxes in Canada, or does his banking there etc. What border agents watch for are people who plan on getting into the U.S. and then disappear into the illegal economy. And yes, border agents have a lot of discretion in making that determination. Your boyfriend needs to research his status with the immigration department before he makes plans to re-enter. Her also needs to verify that he has permission from his provincial government to stay out of the country for such an extended period so he doesn’t lose his permanent residency status, and with it his provincial health insurance coverage.

      Milan

  83. I am an Ontario resident; any idea how long the 212 day allowance has been in effect? I was always under the impression that the allowance was similar to the other provinces; just wondering if this has been a recent change.

    • The 212-day out-of- province allowance for Ontario is not a recent change: it has been in effect for about 10 years. Don’t make me go back to my files to give you an exact date. All other provinces allow 182 days (six months), except for Newfoundland which allows up to eight months out of the province.

      Milan

  84. Milan,
    Two questions.
    1. When does the closer connection form need to be filed with IRS.
    2. If the new VISIT USA act is passed allowing certain Canadians up to 240 days per year in the USA, how will this impact the provincial Medicare rules.

    • Wayne:
      1) According to our international trax advisor Richard Brunton, who contributes to Travelinsurancefile : the general due date for form 8840 is June 15, 2012. However, if the individual has wages subject to US withholding or has moved to the US, the due date is April 15.. However, this year April 15 is on Sunday, plus another holiday comes into play, so for this year alone, the due date is April 17 for this latter group.

      2) The Visit USA bill–if it ever passes–will have no effect on Canada’s provincial medicare rules–none. They are two separate sets of laws. Canadians will still have to be physically present in their home province for the required number of days–in most provinces that is at least 183; in Ontario 153, and in Newfoundland 123.

      Milan.

  85. I think it’s outrageous that a retired person is being forced to stay in Canada for half of each year.
    I can understand having to return inside six months, to let the Canadian government know they are still alive, but why are they not free to leave for another six months. I realize that Canada has become a police state, but this six month prison term for senior citizens is just a bit too communist for me. Forcing aging citizens to remain in the country only drives up the cost of health care, even an uneducated retired bus driver is intelligent enough to figure that out.

    • John:

      You are free to leave Canada for as long as you like. You will still retain your Canadian citizenship. The only thing you will lose is your right to provincial health insurance. In addition, you must also have permission of the country which you are visiting to accept you for more than six months. That’s not Canada’s rule. You are allowed to stay in the U.S. up to six months a year–that’s a U.S. rule. Most European countries will allow you to stay up to 90 days without a visa. That’s their rules. So you see, it’s not Canada that’s keeping you in.

      Milan

      • I was told by a government official here in Canada many years ago that if I stay out of the country for more than 180 days I’ll lose the suppliment portion of my Old Age Pension. So I fly all the way to Toronto from San Jose Costa Rica, get off the plane, have the passport stamped, and get back on the same plane that brought me there one hour later. This fourteen hour ordeal is an expensive venture for my wife and I, as we attempt to survive on a government pension. We do this every 180 days, and the olde we get the harder it gets. I was born in Canada and worked there for fifty years, but they will put me through this harassment as long as I live.

        John retirecostarica@hotmail.com

      • If you are on Old Age Pension and collecting the suppliment you can only be outside Canada for 180 days.
        Just return in April to do your tax return and then off you go again for another 180 days. It’s easy to get Pensionado status in Costa Rica as long as you provide evidence that you are collecting a Canadian government pension of not less than $1,000 per month, which includes your wife. The health care system is better in Costa Rica, plus the Pensionado status provides that coverage for $45. per month. You can stay in Costa Rica forever once you have such status. Canadian’s are granted the same rights as Costa Rica citizens, except for the fact they cannot vote, nor are they permitted to request special treatment from political figures, such as what’s being done by immigrants in Canada. The Costa Rica government makes it clear to Canadians that if they can’t financially support themselves they are not welcome to stay more than ninety days.
        I guess it wouldn’t be wise for a developing country to start issuing welfare cheques to immigrants from Canada or anywhere else.

  86. In any calendar year, my spouse and I (BC residents) spend almost 182 days in USA per year, with January 01 to May 31 each year in Hawaii and the balance of time in the mainland USA. We own two condos in Hawaii, one of which we occupy when in Hawaii and rent out when not in residence. We rent out the other condo year round. We have no employees in Hawaii, rent out the properties ourselves using online web sites and have an unpaid (agent) friend who looks after any emergencies when we are not in Hawaii.

    We file the appropriate IRS and Hawaii State income tax forms for rental income earned each year, as well as the required excise and transient accommodation taxes for the State of Hawaii. We also file US form 8840 each year by June 15.

    My questions:

    Are we at risk of being told by USA immigration agents that we are running a business in the USA and thus being barred from entry?

    I remember reading in the BC Medical Plan information, that if one is a snowbird, that we need only to be in Canada for 182, days and not specifically in BC. Have you also come across this info. in the BC Medical information for snowbirds?

  87. My dad works on and off oil rigs around the world and sometimes accumulates more than the 182 days that he is required in order to keep the RAMQ in Quebec. Does that exempt him from paying some provincial taxes?

  88. Hi Milan:

    I think I may have answered my second question in my previous post. At the BC Medical Plan web site http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/infoben/leavingbc.html#absence , I found the following paragraph:

    “Temporary Absence from British Columbia

    You may be eligible to receive coverage for up to 24 consecutive months of absence while temporarily outside B.C. Approval is limited to once in five years for absences that exceed six months in a calendar year.

    Residents who spend part of every year outside B.C. must be physically present in Canada at least six months in a calendar year and continue to maintain their home in B.C. in order to retain coverage. If you are unsure whether you will qualify for coverage during an absence or know your eligibility will end, contact MSP with details.

    When you stay outside B.C. longer than the period for which you are entitled to coverage, you will be required to fulfill a waiting period upon return to the province before coverage can be renewed.

    You should be aware that your provincial coverage may not pay for all the health care costs you may incur outside the province, and the difference can be substantial. For example, B.C. pays $75 (Cdn) a day for emergency in-patient hospital care, while the average cost in the U.S. often exceeds $1000 (US) a day, and can be as high as $10,000 (US) a day in intensive care. For this reason, you are strongly advised to purchase additional health insurance from a private insurer before you leave the province, whether you are going to another part of Canada or outside the country – even if you plan to be away for only a day. See Medical Care Outside B.C. for more information”.

    This BC Govt.web site seems to indicate that one must be present only in Canada (not BC specifically) for 6 months in any calendar year in order to retain one’s BC health plan. However, would still appreciate your answer to my first question in my previous post above. Thanks, Terry

    • Terry:

      The language you provide looks a little ambiguous, but the intent is that you must actually live in B.C. for six months a year–not just in Canada.

      Milan

  89. Hello Milan,

    I live in Montreal and I am looking to go live in Florida and open my own business but how long does it take to get a work visa and is this Visa will allow me to live there and why is that difficult to obtain?

    Thank you.

    • Marty:

      There are two way to go about it. For the work visa, you need to have an employer in the U.S. guarantee your hire and that has to go through a lot of government clearances. They need to know nobody else is available in the U.S. to do that job. Unless you do something very special or unique, it is very hard to get. If you are just planning on coming down to look for a job, forget it. It may not be what you want to hear, but I’m going to save you time. If you have some special skills, that’s a different story.

      The second is a visa granted on setting up a business. For that you must have actual plans, leases, permits, etc. and you must guarantee work for a certain number of people. You need to have a certified guarantee of a lot of money in the plan to qualify. For that you need to contact the U.S. consulate that can give you the details. But it is a lot of money and your plans have to be very concrete, not just a dream.

      On the other hand, if you want to get into a rubber dingy and you can make it to the Florida shore, that might be the quickest way.

      Milan

  90. Hello! I am a Permanent Resident of Canada since June of 2001 but have been living and working in the US since August of 2005. I have not obtained my Canadian citizenship bcoz I always missed my appointment dates and the Immigration Canada web says:

    You may be eligible for Canadian citizenship

    Adults may be able to obtain Canadian citizenship if they:

    -are permanent residents of Canada
    -have lived in Canada for at least three out of the four years immediately preceding the date of an application for Canadian citizenship and
    -meet all other requirements

    As I checked my status online, it still says “In Process”. Based on the above basic requirements, I would be eligible. But the 3rd “Meet all other requirements” is just very broad and vague.

    My questions are:
    A. What are these “Meet all other requirements”?
    B. What are my chances of getting the citizenship?

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Erik

    • Erik:

      Let me get this right. You have been living and working in the U.S. for the past seven years, have missed all your appointments with the Canadian immigration people and you expect to get your Canadian citizenship? I think you need to check back with Canadian authorities in person (forget the online) to see if you are still a permanent resident.

      Milan

  91. Hi
    well iam thinking about to retired in the philippines so i know i will need a passport and visa maybe right i do get pension old age and canada pension plus a pension from where i work before i know the T D bank will send my pension to a bank in the philippines so im interested in knowing can i live there or do i have to come back in 182 days or what i will be living with my girlfriend there in the philippines thank you

    • Clarence:

      If you are legally entitled to an old age security payment and Canada pension you will get it wherever you go. You don’t need to return to Canada. It will probably be the same with your TD pension but I can’t guarantee that because don’t the details.
      Ask TD.

      Milan

  92. I, live in Ontario Canada, I come to Florida, every year in mid-November, and return, in mid-April. I have been told recently that I can stay longer than the 183 days and it is now over 200 days. I, would like to know what and if this is true or not?

    • Eileen

      The U.S. allows Canadians to stay as visitors for no longer than 182 days per year. There has been no change.

      Milan

  93. U.S. Vehicle allowed into canada??
    I am a newly retired canadian snowbird spending my 2nd winter in texas, where i bough a summer home and a car…I have a question which i hope you can help me sort out with your knowledge.

    Will i be allowed to drive my texas registered & insured vehicle back into canada in the spring and keep it there with me for the 6 months i’ll be in canada until i return to texas in late nov.??

    I’ll appreciate your answer and advice, thank you very much… Oscar

    • Oscar:
      It seems to me you have more to worry about than your car. If you have bought a summer home in Texas, and a car, when do you live in Canada? You can only live in the U.S.A. less than 183 days, and you must have a closer Connection to Canada. If you are breaking U.S. rules, you can be barred from entering. Re-assess your status.

      Milan

  94. Hi. Thanks for all the info on this website!

    I’m sponsoring my Filipino girlfriend in Ontario. As soon as she gets permanent residency we plan to do a big trip (6-12 months) to see my family in Europe and hers in the Philippines.

    1. Do you know if she risks losing her PR or OHIP in that time? Does the same 153 day limit apply to her too?

    2. What happens if I’m away a long time and lose my OHIP? How do I get it back when I return?

    3. I have my own business and plan to do some work in India. Do you know if I can apply for a special long stay permit away from Canada? What type of lawyer or consultant would I talk to about these questions?

    Thank you for your time!

    -Rene

    • Rene:

      It doesn’t seem as if you or your girlfriend are going to be in Ontario long enough to maintain your OHIP. Your girlfriend can’t just come into the province, touch dry land, and then leave for a year. Neither can you. You need to define your plans more precisely. You girlfriend must live in Ontario, for at least 153 days within the last 12 month period. So must you. That’s the rule.

      Once you lose your OHIP eligibility, you must remain physically in the province for at least three months, and be able to prove it.

      Milan

      • Thanks for the info.

        FYI. I talked to OHIP. They confirmed that I CAN go away for more than 7 months if I apply for an extension. They said I should have no problem receiving it, even for travel. BUT, my gf cannot receive this extension until she has had her PR for more than 2 years.

        I talked to immigration too. They confirmed she would never lose her PR as long as she is traveling with me. If she was alone she couldn’t be out of the country more than 2 out of 5 years.

        So basically, we can be away for a full year, but she risks losing her OHIP. And they said the process for her to re-apply for OHIP is the same process as for me (3 months). No difference.

        I hope this info helps others.

        Also, do you know if she should have her PR card when applying for a visa to travel to USA? Or is a letter from immigration (confirming she has been approved for PR) enough? The person I talked to from the US consulate recommended she have her PR card before applying. But what do you know about this process?

  95. I have asked the immigration officers when entering the US how the 182 days is to be calculated. Two different agents (at different visits) have given the same response. The answer is going back one year from the date you want to use to calculate to.
    eg. on March 12,2012 you would go back to March 13, 2011 and determine how many days you were in the US.
    They both told me it is not a calender year, but the rolling year back based on day you are calculating from. This seems differ from some of your comments or am I misunderstanding what your meaning is?

    • Brad:

      The truth is that many border officers don’t actually know what the rules are, they enforce them as they think they know them. That’s why I always caution not to take things for granted when expecting rational decisions. Rules promulgated by Congress, as these were back in the 90′s, are almost impossible to read as they are encumbered by amendments etc. If there were one set of clear cut rules to which I could refer you, I would. But there are dozens–as complicated as tax codes. The bottom line is 182 days per calendar year, and if a border agent tells you differently, just nod your head in agreement and thank him. Never, ever argue. Agents won’t bother you for a one-year infringment. It’s if you do this year after year that they will get suspicious. And if, after a few years, you average it out on a calendar year or rolling year basis, it will all come out pretty well the same.

      Milan

  96. We are in Oliver BC and we go to play golf in Oroville Wa once a week we are back within 5 hours, we go to Yuma Arizona in winter, how long are we able to stay, we did ask in Oroville american side, they said it does not count as a day if we are there for few hours, is it true
    Stella

    • Stella:

      Any part of a day in the U.S. is considered one day. But many border agents interpret the regulations are yours did. These regulations are not codified in one standard rule book–they are scattered about in thousands of pages of statutes and legal jargon so you can’t blame a border agent if he can’t give you an absolutely definitive answer. Agents have a lof of discretion, so if they’re not going to make an issue of it, that’s fine. But be aware that some day you may come upon an agent who plays it by the book. If I were you, I would stick to the rule that any part of a day is a whole day–just to be safe.

      Milan

  97. Are the 183 days allowed out of the country for the calendar year, or can you be out of the country for 183 days at the end of a calendar year and stay for the first 183 of the next year without coming home?

    • Wally

      No. The border agent would see what you’re trying to do and he has the power to
      keep you out or otherwise sanction you. The intention is that you don’t make the U.S. your de facto home when you’re not entitled to it. There also are some border agents who consider the 182 (not 3) days to be used in a 12-month period, and if they want to do that, they will. You can’t argue with them.

      Milan

      • As first time travellers to the US I would like to know if I can stay 182 days in a calender year
        example
        I would like to go in October 2012, I would come back in April 2012.
        I would then like to return to the US in November 2013 and stay until April 2014
        Is it 182 days in a calendar year or in a 12 month period

        • Loretta:

          Yes you can do as you say. Actually, you are not allowed to exceed 182 days in either a calendar year or a rolling 12 month period.

          Milan

          • We were in Florida for 73 days from January 8th to March 20th this year. That means I have 110 days left in 2012 before I reach my max of 183 days. If I go back to Florida on October 1st. that will only be 92 days so I’m still below my max. Question is, would I only have 91 days left in my winter trip and if I came home for Christmas would I re-start my 183 day calender?

          • Hal:

            First off: It’s 182 days max–not 183. Also, do your own math, my calculator broke down, but here’s the rule: no more than 182 days total in the U.S. in the previous 12 month period, or in any calendar year. But the main factor is the border control agent who must be satisfied you are a permanent resident of Canada and are intending to go back to Canada. Those agents have a lot of discretion and if they’re convinced you do not intend to abuse the rules, they can let a few days slide. It’s up to them. I just give you the rules. They are the ones who can bend, or enforce them.

            Milan

  98. I am a Canadian residing in Ontario. I also have property in Florida. Each time I fly to Florida the customs agent stamps ‘B2′ or ‘B1/B2 on my passport and adds a date 6months later. If I come home for Christmas and return in January, the customs agent does the same thing when I return to the US, stamping the B1/B2 and giving a date 6 months later. I know that for tax purposes I cannot exceed 6 months in the US but the B1/B2 stamp on my passport seems to indicate that, for customs/immigration purposes the six month limit is a per trip limit. For tax purposes I file form 8840 -Closer Connection for Aliens. Although I would be subject to US taxes etc if I spend more than 6 months in the US it seems that the provisions of the B Visa permits legal stays in the US longer than 6 months notwithstanding the tax consequences. Can you comment?

    • William:

      The stamp limiting you to six months simply indicates that on that particular trip you are not allowed longer than six months. But if you want to return earlier it does not preclude you from doing that and it does not override the rule that you must stay no longer than six months in a calendar year.

      On the tax issue, you are wise to file the 8840. It substantiates your understanding of the rule and that means something to the border agent. But there is a widespread misconception about the about the six month rule and taxation that needs clarification.

      Some seem to think (and this includes some accountants) that you can stay in the U.S. .longer than 182 days if you are willing to pay taxes to the U.S. Not so. You can be subject to taxation even if you stay less than 182 days–if you have investments, earn income via rentals, otherwise earn money. But unless you have a visa, or green card, you still can’t stay longer than 182 days. Paying taxes or being subject to taxation does not absolve you of that rule.

      Milan

      • And where exactly is that rule stated? I cannot find it anywhere, and it seems to be something of an urban myth, errantly extended from the rule that clearly states that during a single trip you may not stay longer than 6 months on a tourist visa.

        • RF

          If you want something clearly and simply stated, don’t look to government. Most rules promulgated by Congress reside in bits and pieces in many different amendments and statutes. But the 6 month rule for the U.S. has been raked over by many and it is this: visitors from Canada are allowed up to 182 days (six months) in a single trip or in an aggregate of shorter trips, either over a calendar year or the last 12 months. And that is what border agents go by (although some of them interpret it a little differently). If you don’t believe, go to the State Department and begin your search, though you probably have already. But start it when you’re young.

          Milan

  99. Many years ago my wife and I used to be US residents; therefore our work history is from United States. Now all of us are Canadian citizens. We have a son who was born in US and therefore is US citizen by birth and Canadian by naturalization.

    He is moving to US to attend University there, although he is US citizen but moving alone to US is still new for him because he never lived there.
    Therefore we were planning that one parent go with him for 5 months to let him settle down. When the first parent return to Canada the other parent spends 4 to 5 months with him until the school year ends.

    We have no plans of staying more than 5 months in any given year; we only want him to settle there on his own.
    Although we are Canadian citizens and live in Canada but source of income for both parents is United States social security disability benefits because of our United States work history.

    Do you believe US immigration will think we have more connection with US than Canada because of the US social security disability benefits?

    Although we do not own property but wee rent an apartment here for more than 10 years now and we do have substantial amounts of investments in Canada. Our son cannot file family sponsored Green card for parents until he turns 21 years old, otherwise there is no problem. I am also considering going to University in US, in that case F1 visa will solve this problem.

    Can you please make some suggestions or advice according to your experience in this situation? We will appreciate for your help.

    • Tony:

      You are allowed to collect U.S. social security benefits so that’s not a problem.
      Also, so long as as you and your wife alternate your visits, and don’t work in the U.S. and don’t spend more than 6 months per year each, there should be no problem.

      The best way for you to establish your closer connection to Canada is to complete
      and file an 8840 form which establishes that you have a closer connection to Canada–you have a home there, you have social relationships there, you work there, etc.

      As for you going to university in the U.S. that is another issue and you should be careful. If you want to be with your son as a visitor, be a visitor. If you go as a student, you are in another category and you need a visa and you no longer sound like a Closer Connection Canadian to me. Also be mindful of your Canadian medicare–you don’t want to lose that.

      Milan

  100. I understand that for medical services plan health coverage in British Columbia I need to be
    physically present in British Columbia for six months, also defined
    many trip as 183 days, I want to be away the maximum . Is it correct to say if I go to
    the United States and return the same day, it counts as a day in BC because I would be in BC
    part of the day? Similarly, if I go on a Monday and return four days later on a Friday, would I be
    counted as present in BC on both Monday and Friday as I spent part of each day in BC?
    (please note that my question relates to medical coverage only — most of my time away is to
    other countries that I obtain visas for),

    Second question — How do the medicare administators know how long I have been away, over multiple
    trips in various calendar years? I do not even remember. Specifically, are they able to obtain records
    of every entry and exit from Canada from Canadian border patrol or from some similar federal agency?

    Thank You

    • Andrew:

      I don’t think anyone in the health ministry would slice and dice it as fine as that. They usually only get to cases if they have been quite egregious so I would say if you have been in B.C. for part of any day, that would count as a day at home.

      And you’re right, they really don’t know when you’ve been out of the country that precisely. The ministry has no one out there counting your footsteps. But cases often come to light when someone else points the finger, or makes an issue of it, or you make some medical claims that can place you out of the province for lonbger periods. Maybe you have a neighbour you don’t get along with, or you really have been publicizing your absences. Do government agencies share information? There are indications this is increasing, but not in respect to trying to disqualify your medicare. There isn’t the manpower for it.

      Milan

  101. We left Alberta Oct 15 2011 for Yuma Arizona. We had to fly home for a week for family emergency. When do we have to safely go over the border in order to be safely home in time according to the law?

    • Cydnee:
      Six months from October 15, 2011 is April 15, 2012. The week you spent at home for the family emergency doesn’t count. It’s part of your six month allowance.

      Milan

      • I thought you were allowed 182 days in the states in a calendar year. Why are you counting the week spent back in Canada as part of the 182 day limit ?
        Bill

        • W.A.:
          Because that’s the way the U.S. border patrol counts it. It’s their rule. If you return to Canada for a brief visit–less than 30 days– they count it against your six months. If you return to Canada and stay over 30 days before returning ot the U.S. they will not count it against your six month stay. This is usually applied for snowbirds who spend the entire winter in the south and return “home” for Christmas or other short visits.

          Milan

  102. Dear Milan,

    I am a Canadian wishing to live with my US girlfriend in the US.
    I would like to do this for longer than 6 or 7 months.
    I work for a Canadian magazine and can work from my computer anywhere in the world.
    What are my options?

    Thank you very much,

    Chris

    • Chris:
      It’s tough to get the best of both worlds. Your options don’t exist, unless you can get a green card and live legally in the U.S. And that is very hard to do and takes a long time unless you can get someone in the U.S. to hire you. What you describe, can’t be done…legally.

      Milan

  103. Hi there,

    I’m a Nova Scotian, interested in attending a state college in Florida. It’s a full-time, 2 year course, and Florida residents can receive significant tuition savings over non-residents/internationals. The state requires that you maintain a residency for one year prior to the beginning of classes to qualify for the discount. I’m wondering if it would be possible for me to go to the United States and begin establishing residency in FLA, staying for six months, then returning to Canada quickly (few weeks), and spending an additional six months in the States. (FYI, would be ok with losing NS health care benefits/paying US taxes). I do not want to ask this at my consulate as I’m afraid it would be construed (maybe rightly) as attempted immigration fraud.

    I am also wondering what visa/requirements would be needed for the further two years of study, and whether I would be able to keep/regain my Nova Scotian privileges (including student loans/financial aid). Also, how would NS Health find out about my non-residency, assuming I asserted that I still resided at my parents’ NS home? And how do immigration/border officials know your history?

    • Alex:

      Too many questions for one blog. But I’ll take the main one: How do you intend to establish residency in Florida? You need either a green card or a visa and those are very difficult to get unless you can get a job and are granted permanent residency. You can’t just go to Florida and stay beyond six months (which is illegal) and say you are a Florida resident. Your plan for hopscotching between Nova Scotia and Florida to get the benefits of both sounds totally impractical. It’s also unethical/

      Milan

  104. I’m a canadian residing in Ontario.
    1. I understand i’m allowed 212 days in US but if I go to the US for only 182, does it mean i’m allow to travel some more anywhere in the world?
    2. Let say i snowbird for US and during that time i want to go to Cuba from the state border, is this a problem with the US gov’t? And if i spend 2 weeks overthere, can i subtract those 2 weeks off my 212 days?
    thank you

    • Sonia:

      You are not allowed 212 in the U.S.–only 182. But you are allowed 212 days out of Ontario without losing your medicare. If you stay 182 days in the U.S. you are allowed to travel out of Ontario for the the remaining 30 days. But you are not allowed to travel to Cuba from any point in the U.S. It’s against U.S. law. If you want to go to Cuba, you have to go there directly from Canada.

      Milan

  105. Gayle:

    If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada you’re allowed up to 182 days in the year anywhere in the U.S. It doesn’t go by state. You can do it in one stretch or in a series of shorter stays. Once you’ve reached 182 days, you’re done for the year. You don’t need a visa for up to six months if you are a Canadian citizen. If you’re from the U.K. or Europe you are only allowed up to 90 days at one time. You can always ask for an extension, but you better have a pretty good reason, and don’t count on getting one.

    No, you are not allowed to earn money from work in the U.S., even taking pictures.
    You are a visitor, that’s all.

    Milan

  106. Carole:

    Your bottom line question is: Can you expect any problems at Canadian immigration? I would say you should expect some questions. I assume you are a Canadian citizen, with a Canadian passport, so you should make it. As for the tax question I won’t attempt that. You will need a tax expert. Normally Canadians whop leave the country as you have, would not be considered taxable.

    Milan

  107. B:

    I envy you. However, moving to Hawaii (or anywhere else in the U.S.) as a permanent resident is difficult unless you can meet the very stringent rules of U.S. immigration. Proving you can support yourself is not enough. You need a green card, which you might get if you can find a job, but the federal government has to be satisfied it is a legitimate hire and you are not taking work away from a resident; or if you have a special skill that qualifies you for a specialty visa (really tough), or if you are able to set up a business that will hire a certain number of people and you can prove you have the intention to do it and that the funds are available for that purpose. The requirements are high and as healthy as your bank account is, you might not make it.

    There are also family sponsorship visa opportunities, but in my experience these take so long to process, you better be a relatively young person. My best advice to you is to talk to an immigration attorney who can look at your specific details, and don’t buy too much suntan oil just yet.

    But you can still go to Hawaii for six months a year and you might want to try that for a few years before you make any life time commitments. People get weary of paradise too.

    Milan

  108. Leslie:

    You can’t be a permanent resident of two countries at the same time, and provincial health benefits are available only to permanent residents. Two months at a time is not enough. You must live in Alberta at least 183 days per year to qualify. And that means not just own property or have an Alberta drivers license, but actually live there and be able to prove it. On filing your tax return, you best contact an international tax specialist.

    Milan

  109. Hi
    I have been reading the questions, comments etc. but I do not see my query answered. I am a new snowbird but I travel back and forth to Florida each month. I know about the ‘closer connection’ form. My husband says that the true rules are that you cannot stay more than 182 days but it is a total of three years. All of year one plus 1/3 of the year before plus 1/6 of the year before that. He says that this amount must total 182 or less. My next query is do you count parts of days, i.e. travel days, because you are in the US for part of the day, or just overnights?

    • Cookie:

      If I haven’t answered your query it’s because I haven’t seen it. I would have remembered the name Cookie. Your husband is confusing the Substantial Presence Test and the allowance for Canadians visiting the U.S. for tourism purposes–two quite different rules. The Substantial Presence Test is based on a three year formula which determines if you have been in the U.S. long enough to
      be subject to U.S. tax laws. You can usually avoid such taxation filings if you complete and submit an IRS 8840 form. Every Canadian who spends several months in the U.S. every year should do this. It’s not hard and it keeps you in good standing. For details, go to the IRS.gov website and look up Publication 519. That gives you all the details.

      But that has nothing to do with how long you can stay in the U.S. as a visitor, which is six months (or 182 days–not always the same thing) per year. That can be in one long stretch or in an aggregation of short trips. And every day you touch foot in the U.S.–whether going or coming back from you destination counts as a day off that total.

      Milan

  110. i have been in the US for just over six months, trying to get everything set up to attend school in the US. i have one final document to get at the border. so if i cross the border back into canada and then back into the US shortly after to attend school. will i be denied entry ?

    • Ashley:

      If you have no student visa you may be kept out. If you have been in the U.S. as a visitor for longer than six months, you may also be kept out. That depends solely on the border patrol agent. They’re the ones who call the shots. Seems like you haven’t been following the rules.

      Milan

  111. As someone with some legal training, I have struggled to find the 183 day limit anywhere in the law or on the US government websites. I would appreciate if you could direct me to the source of this position. Is it simply a CPB practice point, or is there really some basis for denying entry once the 183 days has been exceeded?

    • Keep struggling. There is no single legal document that articulates all aspects of the six month (182 day) rule; there are many sources you have to go to. This is a derivative of legislation drafted back in the 90′s and if you have ever tried to find the definitive source of such laws you will find they often reside in the administrative directives that the bureaucrats use to implement them. If you have ever tried to follow the trail from legislation to implementation, you know what I mean. The six month rule is one of these. You could grow old trying to track down all the sources–that’s what governments do to people. But if you want to keep trying, you start at the CBP.gov site and work your way from there. Good luck.

      Milan

  112. I am an Ontario Canada citizen who has been in Florida since 0ct. 31 2011. My question is, do I have to be back back in Ont. 182 days from Oct. 31 or is it 212 days? I read the other comments on this and 1 answer is 182 days the other is 212 days. Not quite sure what the actual answer is.

    • Linda:

      There have not been two different answers. There have been two different questions. Pay attention.

      The U.S. allows you to visit for up to six months (about 182 days, according to the months you are away). That means you have to leave the U.S. by the end of April. Ontario allows you to be out of the province for seven months (212 days) in the previous 12, and still retain your residency and your provincial health benefits. If they catch you staying out of the province for a longer period they can disqualify you from medicare. These are two separate laws. They have nothing to do with each other. Got it?

      Milan

  113. Hello Milan,

    I appreciate you answering these questions.

    I’m a Canadian citizen who’s planning on entering the U.S. as a guest/tourist to visit some friends. I’m planning on staying for a week — and have hence bought a return ticket for seven days later — but once there may have an opportunity to stay at another friend’s place for much longer.

    My question is this: If I tell the border guards that I’m entering the U.S. for only a week, but then end up staying 3-4 months, is that a problem? Will they know that I haven’t returned to Canada? Will they even care, as long as I don’t stay over my 182-day limit?

    Thanks!

    • Ryan:

      I wish I knew how old you are. It would be easier to answer your question. But I will assume you’re not a snowbird. The scenario you present is problematic. If you are so impreecise about your plans as to not be certain if you are staying a week or six months, the border agent is likely to turn you down altogether. Do you have a job? Can you, at the last moment, decide to stay away from your job for six months? If so, how will you support yourself? Or are you actually going to the U.S. to see if you can find a job, which as a visitor you can’t do.

      The border agent has a lot of discretion, and if he’s not satisfied you are returning to your home when you say you are, you have a problem. You do not have a “right” to visit the U.S. for 182 days, it’s a privilege. And these days, with cross border information being shared as generously as it is, you must assume they know when you come and when you go.

      Milan

      • Hey Milan,

        Thanks again for your time and advice.

        I am young, but my friends are generous and I have enough money saved up to last for a few months. I have a flexible job in Canada and a return ticket for one week. I plan on telling the border guard that I’ll be visiting for one week, and for all I know, I will return in one week. However, the crux of my question is if when in the U.S., my other friend can let me stay at his place for a couple months (he’s still unsure if this is a possibility), will I get in trouble for doing so? Will some red flag in their system pop up when my initial one-week stay is over?

  114. Hi Milan:

    My brother has been going to Germany for six months of the year for the past 5 years – generally from April 23 of one year to October 23 of same year. Is he allowed to go back to Germany that same year in December and stay there for two months without compromising his Canadian benefits. Would he be able to get permission to do this from a Canadian government source?

    Thank you

    Hilde

    • Hilde:
      If you are concerned about your brother losing his provincial health benefits, you need to determine if he is out of the country longer than your province allows. Since I don’t know which province your brother lives in, I can’t answer that. And if he is staying out of the country longer than allowed by his provincial rules, and doing it every year, I doubt he will get any special permission to continue doing it.

      Milan

  115. Hi there,

    I must say that your replies and knowledge in this area are very impressive…

    I am a Canadian (Quebec resident) and my spouse (citizen of country that requires visa to US/Canada) is visiting US (doesn’t have Canadian visa though) to meetup relatives.
    1) Is it possible that I stay with her for 3-4 months in a city close to US border and drive each morning to work in Canada (30-45 min drive that I’m willing to do) and return in evenings back, during these 3-4 months
    2) Does it help to get any of the documents that makes the border crossing faster like N exus etc

    Thanks

    Arnav M

    • What you suggest is unusual, but it may be possible. If you can get a Nexus, that would help. Give that a try.

      Milan

      • Thanks for your response.. my concern is if this can be termed as an accepted reason to travel everyday across the border..

    • Amav:

      It all depends on the view of the border control officer, and he might very conclude that you are “living” in the the U.S. There’s no clear cut regulation to cover hat you’re talking about. Why don’t you try it once and ask the officer? It’s his choice.

      Milan

  116. Hi Milan

    I’ve heard there’s a push by a number of US politians to increase the 183 day limit to 8 months under certain conditions, one being ownership of US property over a certain threshhold, umoured to be $250K. Is this actively being persued and if so, will it be on a state by state or federal basis? Arizona along with a number of other states rely heavily on Canadian purchasing power.

    Thanks

    Henry

    • Henry:

      I wrote about this a couple of months ago :http://travelinsurancefile.com/headlines/u-s-retiree-visa-plan-no-big-deal-for-snowbirds/. The short answer is, don’t expect much. The business of Congress now is getting re-elected.

      Milan

      • What information do US and Canadian border people share? I’ve heard that what the US customs officer in the booth sees on his screen is when you haved crossed into the US in the past and the info that is on your drivers licence. The same with entering into Canada. I’ve been told the owness is on the individual to show how long they’ve stayed in or out of the country.

        Apparently the US and Canadian systems are not yet linked and don’t share information real time. Is this the case? Also, how does our privacy act come into play with the sharing of information?

        Henry

  117. How many days is a Canadian considered to be in the U.S. if they fly into a U.S. port city, board a cruise ship that is leaving that same day for a 7 day cruise to non U.S. territories? On return to the port direct transportation to the airport and flight home is the same day.

    For Provincial count I would count that as 8 days out of province & country, but is it also 8 days in the U.S.?

    Thank you for your help Betty

    • Betty:

      Eight days in the U.S. Province, eight days out of province–they don’t care where you’ve been.

      Milan

      • Thank you Milan. Could you clarify if the U.S. border guard would count that eight days as part of our allowable 182 days visiting the states. Or would they just count the 2 days on either end when we passed through their airports?

  118. I live in BC and travel through the US to live in Mexico for the 182 days for the winter. , because I am in the US only 3 days on the way down and again on the way back, do they still count that as the full amount of days allowed, or would I be able to travel to the US in the summer for a week or so?

    Because I have an FM3 I could stay in Mexico longer if I wanted to…..do you know of any provincial health plan that makes an allowance for staying out of the country longer than the 182 days?

    If I were to give up the provincial health plan to stay longer in Mexico, is there any other penaltly like cutbacks in the OAS or pensions that I recieve now?
    Thanks you for your help.
    Irena

    • Irena:

      Your first question is unclear. What I think you want to know is: on your trips down and back you have used up 6 of the 182 days allowed to stay in the U.S. But you must tell the U.S. border agent on entry. He can instruct you how to proceed. That would leave you lots of times to visit the U.S. on other vacations.To make your case, if you have evidence of where you will be staying in Mexico, any lease or rental agreements or other documents to show you will be staying in Mexico and not the U.S., have them on hand.

      On your second question, Ontario allows you to be out of the province for seven months, Newfoundland for eight. All the others require at least 183 days.

      You would lose your provincial residency, but not your Canadian citizenship and if you are now qualified for full OAS and Pension, you can receive those wherever you are. If you move out of Canada permanently you have tax obligations with the federal government you would have to file.

      Milan

  119. My boyfriend and I are Canadian and we live in the USA during the winter because he plays hockey. I am from Saskatchewan so I understand that I can only be here 6 months less a day. But since we are common law I was wondering if I am allowed to stay with him until hockey is over and his visa is done with? I had heard from some friends that since they are married she can stay as long as he does in the USA without any problem.

    • Andrea:

      You can’t get any extra time just because your boyfriend is waiting for his visa. You need to work out something more permanent and that means going to the U.S. consulate and seeing what your options are. Also, your friend’s advice is not necessarily accurate, but since I don’t know all the details I can’t comment more precisely. Certainly, it is easier if you’re married.

      Milan

  120. Hi Milan,

    My mother is a Canadian citizen and resident of Alberta. She is 70 yrs old and a retired nurse. Soon, she will be coming to visit me, in Seattle, as I’m expecting my first child shortly. Her initial visit with me will be for almost 3 months. After that she will return to Alberta for some time (probably stay there longer than 30 days), and then come back to the States for another 3 months. I understand that Canadians are allowed to visit the U.S. for up to 6 months per calendar year without any special visa requirements. She is not a ‘snow-bird’ at all but basically coming to help me with new born child care. My questions are: do you think she will have any trouble coming or going? Also, will her Alberta Healthcare Insurance be disrupted or canceled in any way? Thanks, Milan!

    • Mary:

      If your mother is simply visiting you, her family, and doesn’t stay in the U.S. any longer than six months in total there should be no problem. And if she is not out of Alberta for longer than six months per year, there should be no problem either. She does not require any visa for such a visit. If the border agent asks, make sure she tells him she is just visiting family, not working, and will be returning to Alberta.

      Milan

  121. My husband and I bought a house in Florida two years ago. We own and actively work in our businesses in Nova Scotia. We travel back and forth – for 7 – 17 days about 10 months of the year and is strictly for vacation. IS the “year” considered the past 365 days – and the total number of days in the usa in and out during that that period – or is it specifically a calendar year?

    • Angela:
      The 182 days works two ways but it amounts to the same thing. You are not allowed more than 182 days in a calendar year–neither are you allowed 182 days within the past 12 months. With you going down for such short periods several times a year, you won’t have any problems.

      Milan

  122. My wife and I have been spending the Winter’s in florida for 22 yeae’s.
    We fly down and back via Air Canada.We own a Florida home.
    From time to time air Canada has Union stike problems.
    If our flight is delayed or resheduled due to a Strike, do we have any days grace added to 183 days because of this problem or do we have find some other means of getting back to Ontario witin the alotted time.Thanks in advance.PeterL

    • Peter:

      No grace. Try another airline. Air Canada’s too expensive anyway. Don’t worry too much about a day or two here or there, these guys are not fascists. They’ll listen to reason.

      Milan

  123. When filling out an 8840, how specific do you need to be with Questions 28 and 29. In 28, i assume most retired people have some type of stock portfolio that touches on USA dividends and/or interest. In 29, how do you go about listing countries if you have EAFA or emerging market notes or stock.

  124. I am an Ontario resident with a home in Florida, I understand that you may remain in the US for 182 days but is that per Calandar Year Jan to Dec. ? If not how do you start calculating the time I sometimes stay a couple months at a time and some times stay 2 weeks come home 3weeks ect.

    • Pamela:

      Look at my answer to the previous questioner. Do not exceed a total of 182 days in either a calendar year or the past 12 months. You can do that in one stretch or an aggregation of shorter trips. If you go to the U.S. for a long period and return home for less than 30 days during that single trip, it will be counted as part of the 182. If you return home for more than 30 days, it will not be counted as part of your allotted 182 days.

      Milan

  125. Hi
    I am semi retired , live in Ontario across from Detroit , have my own business, sales representative for US Based companies but I sell to manufactures in Ontario. I travel to Michigan 1-3 times a week for sales meetings and engineering followup. I also at times travel to the US FOR SPORT ACTIVITIES , GOLF , THEATRE and DINNER. I also spend 5 months in Florida with two trips home by air for XMAS AND SPRING Break. My question is this : My daily trips for business or pleasure and returning back to Ontario in the evening , no over night stays are these considered part of the 182 day period. I look at the wording Staying in the US versus a daily visit . These daily visits may amount to 30 – 40 over a time period of 7 months. Can you explain .
    thanks

    • Stu:

      I take it you have a visa to to attend regular business meetings and engineering followup? This is not be covered by your visitors visa which is granted only for non-work related leisure or tourism visits. When you go to the U.S. do you tell the border agent you are going for a sales meeting? If you’re doing cross-border work, there are visas for that. You need to check this out with the U.S. consulate before you run into problems.

      Milan

  126. I have read with great interests all the questions and answers and I pretty much understand the 182 day thing, I am a resident of Quebec and my husband and I own a condo in Florida and a cottage in upstate New York. I don’t need to draw you a picture, we are quite often in the US but rarely for more than a week at a time. For instance, we might go to Florida for a total of four or five days and come back to Quebec. Or, we go and spend all our week ends at the cottage (leaving Friday afternoon and come back on Sunday afternoon). But all this traveling, even for very short periods of time add up and by looking at my husband’s cell phone bill, I notice that he has spent more than 182 days in a 365 day period. So far, he has not been denied access to the US and we asked the question to a border agent and he told us basically that as long as we go back to Canada, he doesn’t see a problem with that. My question: do you think that because we never go for long periods at a time (we go less than 1 week) that we can have a break ?
    thank you in advance for your reply Milan,

    • Anna:
      Border agents differ a lot. They have a lot of discretion and the one you spoke to is obviously a common sense guy who sees you are not a threat and is willing to cut you some slack. But perhaps there may be others were are more strict and you never know which one you’re going to get. They like to judge people by what they see: in your case, they’re satisfied. But I can only quote you the rule–and that is no more than six months (182 days) in the U.S. over the calendar year or the past 12 months. The rest is up to the border agent.

      Milan

  127. As a snowbird who bought a Florida home in 2011 I am amazed to see you say
    that a visit back to Canada of less than 30 days is considered as part of the days in the US. But I am more astonished that “a cruise ship …..(on) a 7 day cruise to non U.S. territories fr the US ” is still considered part of days in the US. So if I went on a cruise from FL for 2 wks to eg. South America or the Caribbean that would still be part of my days in the US !?

    • Mary:

      The 30-day rule you refer to is usually applied to people on long visits in the U.S., say five or six months. If you just travel in on short visits, its the actual days in and out that are counted. But if you and your snowbird friends take a short cruise out of a U.S. port while you are there for the winter, those days count as part of the 182.

      Milan

      • OK. I concede that by creative book keeping the US requires I return to Canada in 6 months eg Oct 15 – Apr 15 even if I am actually out of the country on some trips shorter than 30 days so that I really was NOT there all that time. That would be an immigration issue. What about a taxation issue. ie. If I file a 8840 do I count the days I was REALLY there or do I include the days I was out of the country on the short trips? Mary

  128. Hi! I am a canadian resident from province of Québec , I am a snowbird, Ileft quebec the first of november 2011 and I entend to go back at the end of may 2012 I will come back in Florida october first 2012 for 6 months can you tell me if this is o.k. with united states!!! I thank you very much !

    • Jeanne:
      As I count it, when you go back to Quebec at the end of May, you will have been in the the U.S. for seven straight months. That’s way over your limit, which allows you only six months out of the last 12. Then you want to go back again in October for another six? That means in the calendar year 2012 you will have been in Quebec for only four months. Let me re-state it again: you’re allowed up to 182 days (no more) in the previous 12 months, or 182 days in any calendar year. You are way over that.

      Milan

  129. Milan
    We are snowbirds who come home at Christmas for a week or two, I have read your remarks regarding this time still being counted as part of my 182 days. My question is where is this published, I have queried US border officials about this and have yet to find one who is aware of it. Their usual response is look it up on our website, I’ve tried that and as you have previously stated about finding a Govt. publication – Good Luck. Can you point me to a publication that lists this? I’ve also heard that day trips in and out of the US the same day aren’t counted towards the 182 day allotment, though I would doubt this to be true.
    Thanks in advance for any info you may be able to provide.

    • John:

      I understand your frustration, but I cannot point you to one publication that has this published because there is not one government publication–out of the zillions of pages they print each year– that neatly summarizes the rules for Canadians. Part of this is due to the fact that Canadians are granted all kinds of exemptions to the immigration and visiting laws that apply to other nationals so you have to dig through the exceptions and exemptions etc., to find the operative rules. Then, you have to take into consideration the way border agents themselves interpret and apply the rules. They differ because the primary aim of the agent is to weed out the bad guys and let the good guys enter and have a good time. If they are convinced you are a good, solid, dyed in the wool Canadian who has every intention of returning home and will not fade into the undocumented underground, he won’t hassle you.

      As for day trips: they are counted and are part of the 182 day allotment.

  130. WOW. I am truly impressed with your knowledge of topic. Thanks for all the great responses.

    Question: Does an Ontarian need to return and remain in Ontario for 30 days in order for the return time to be counted as time spent in their province? I understand that this is what the US requires. ie: Be out of their country for the 30 days.

    I have developed a simple spreadsheet that, once you enter the days spent out of your province, it automatically calculates the number of days remaining for travel, based on a rolling calendar. It also has the formula for calculating the “substantial presence test”. If you are interested in receiving and reviewing I will gladly send it to you. Please provide your email address. Thanks.

    • Malcolm:

      I would love to see your spreadsheet. It sounds great. Send it to me at mkorcok@aol.com.

      Re your question. There is no such 30-day requirement by either Ontario or the U.S. Ontario only cares that you are in the province, physically, for at least five months within the previous 12 (a rolling year) so as to retain your OHIP. The U.S. does not require you to go home for 30 days before re-entering. That’s a misinterpretation of a rule that states that long term visitors to the U.S, like snowbirds, must count short return trips to Canada (e.g. Christmas) as part of their 182 day allotment–unless that return trip is for 30 days or longer, in which case the return to the U.S. counts as a new trip.

      Milan

  131. I have traveled quite a bit to the U.S. and back to Canada. I think I am approaching my 182 days. My question is, can the U.S. Border see the number of times I have returned to Canada and how long I have stayed in Canada when he swipes my Passport.

    Thnx

  132. Milan, I have more than 1 question, so hopefully you can answer them all for me:
    I am very disturbed/upset by the extremely poor US healthcare/medical system, and other detrimental changes to the middle class in the United States.
    My husband and I have dual US/Canadian citizenship; we have lived and worked these past 25 years in US.
    We are now thinking of becoming “snowbirds”, once my husband retires in 10 years, as I am terrified we’ll lose everything in USA due to an unexpected medical crisis. How long does it take to be covered by the Canadian medical system after moving to Canada from the USA? Are we only required to file both US and Canadian income taxes as long as we own a home in the USA? When, and IF, we sell our house in the USA, and buy a home in Canada, would we then only be required to file Canadian taxes? Both of us will be receiving both Canadian CPP/OAP, and US social security, and I receive a pension payment from my US employer. Please advise. THANK YOU!
    PS: Final (sensitve question):
    IF we do incur medical debt in the US that we are unable/unwilling to repay, can the US government force us to repay it or attach any liens to our US Social Security if we move to Canada full-time? Will we be protected from the Canadian government against harassment or legal action by the US government?

    THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING ALL MY QUESTIONS!!!

    • Maureen:

      Wow. That’s a lot of questions. I can’t answer them all because I would need to know more, but I’ll take a few.

      First of all, get rid of your paranoia about the U.S. healthcare system. For 85 percent of the people who have health insurance it works very well, and since you have worked in the U.S. for 25 years do you not now have health insurance? I certainly get a level of care I could never get in Canada and I have a Medicare HMO, as millions of other Americans do. I too am a dual Canadian/American citizen. Certainly by the time you reach 65 you will qualify for U.S. Medicare and those benefits you can take with you when you re -visit the U.S.

      I can’t answer the questions on taxation because I am not a tax expert and whether or not you must file with the IRS after you return to Canada depends on many things I don’t know about from your question, among them, if you intend to retain your US citizenship. U.S. citizens, no matter where they live, are required to file annually with the IRS declaring all their world income. Even those living in Canada.

      When you return to Canada with the intention of permanently residing there, you will face a three month waiting period before your provincial health plan will cover you. During that time you can purchase private insurance specifically designed your situation . When you are ready I can make some suggestions about where you can find such insurance.

      Your last, “sensitive” question about encountering medical debt in the U.S. before you return to Canada (I take it that was your question?). Any medical debt is payable to the provider–the hospital, doctors, or collectors. The U.S. government does not collect private debts. The hospital can sue you and try to recoup money you owe the way any other vendor can. But there are no “debt cops” at the border, so don’t worry about it. Again, I must ask, if you have been working in the U.S. for 25 years, don’t you have private health insurance? And once you’re back in Canada, as a permanent resident, you can get travel insurance to cover you when you take your snowbird trips. Relax.

      I hope that helps somewhat.

      Milan

  133. Hi Milan

    John here again and thank you for your earlier response.
    How did you come by the knowledge that the one or two weeks we spend home at Christmas is counted as part of our 182 days? I have seen this statement published in the Snowbird magazine and have questioned them about it, they have taken my email and promised to forward the source information to me but never do.

    Here’s the question I can’t seem to resolve:

    I live close to the US border and travel in/out a couple of times a month, since I am not out of the USA for more than 30 days between trips this rule would consider me as having never left the USA. Or – is there some magical number of days that you have to be in the USA before your return home starts to count?

    Thank again

  134. Hi Milan,

    Well, the situation has resolved itself. The doctors were wrong. She didn’t have 3 to 6 months to live – it turned out she had less than a week from the time she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She passed away on Saturday. After the funeral, Dad will be returning with us to B.C. to stay, so his cross-border USA-Canada issues are over.

    Thanks, Dan

  135. Hi,

    There is a Canadian living on a sailboat off our point of land in the US. He sailed in in February and is still there now. How long can he stay?

    • Lee:

      The law is the same for him as anybody else: six months out of the last 12 or in a calendar year.

      Milan

  136. Milan,

    Great information on this thread!

    I was working in the US on TN visas for 4 years, and after my employment ended in February I reentered the US as a tourist for another 3 months. My question is: will my time on a TN count towards the 182 days (meaning that? Or is that only for tourist visa purposes?

    Thanks,

    Mike

  137. My husband went to U.S. for 5 months and 3 weeks literally in the last 12 months (returned to Canada March 18/12) but now he needs to go to the U.S. for a day or two to pick up his car and then come back to Canada. Can he return to U.S. since he did not reach the six month limit from Sept 2011-March 2012 yet, even though he just returned to Canada about 6 or 7 weeks ago? Can he go back to U.S. now in the above situation. There doesn’t have to be any time in between does there as long as he hasn’t used up the six-months in the last calendar year – I know its close but that’s all he needs is the one or two days. Please let me know. Thanks. Tammy

    • Tammy:

      Your husband should be fine. Just make sure he has good documentation that he has deep roots in Canada and fully intends to return in a couple of days. Border agents just want to know that people are sincerely intending to go back home.

      Milan

  138. OK. I concede that by creative book keeping the US requires I return to Canada in 6 months eg Oct 15 – Apr 15 even if I am actually out of the country on some trips shorter than 30 days so that I really was NOT there all that time. That would be an immigration issue. What about a taxation issue. ie. If I file a 8840 do I count the days I was REALLY there or do I include the days I was out of the country on the short trips? Mary

  139. I am a Canadian citizen live in Ontario. My question is if i go to US and stay more than 182 days , would i be breaking the law? I have no intention of working there illegally or do anything illegal.
    I want to get trained in IT and then i aply for a work visa while remain in the US.
    I want to apply for H1 visa but that visa gets taken fast and i may not be able to get it. I know i am elegible for a TN status but it wont work in my case because i have a degree in Accounting but want to work in IT ( you have to have the same degree as your intended occupation for TN).

    I mostly visit US using my Ontario Enhanced driver’s license, and never had any problem. My question is do US and Canada share information as to when a person enters the country and when he/she leaves? When i enter US , they would track me from my Ontario license plates on my car but when i go back to Canada, does the information pass onto US Customs?

    I sure don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law, but due to shortage of H1 visas and circumstances, i’d like to live longer than 6 months if required.
    THanks

    • Sid:

      You can’t spend more than 6 months in theU.S. without a green card or visa of some kind. The green card is out of reach unless somebody actually offers you a job and meets immigration rules in the way the offer is made. Word of mouth is not enough.If you are planning to get training in IT you might apply to a U.S. school that is authorized for U.S. student visa purposes. That can get you in right away. You cannot use your visitors visa (allowance) to get training or work. If you are caught, you can be banished from entry to the U.S. for a long time.

      You ask about your enhanced drivers permit. First of all, if you are serious, get a passport. That shows border people you are serious and not an ingenue.

      Do the countries share information? Yes. Not all the time with every car, or with every traveller all the time, but enough that you’re odds of being detected shrink with the more you cross. Don’t risk it. Once you are detected, the border agent can black list you and that can last for years. It’s not worth it. Or get a job as an accountant until you get your green card, then you can do anything.

      Milan

  140. Hi, I have a permanent resident alien card that allows me to work and live in the US. It expired about 5 years ago but I havn’t needed to work. I’ve been living between Canada and the US for the last 8 years. My husband passed away and I now want to be able to work in the US again. I am a canadian citizen.

    Am I able to live in the US while I renew my card. My concern is only that it had expired 5 years ago.

    Thank you

    • Donna:

      This is a special case. You have to go to the U.S. consulate for this one. If you have been living “between” the U.S. and Canada for eight years, there will be some questions asked.

      Milan

  141. My aunt (an 86 years old widow with no children) lives in the US. I have been trying to get a green card so I can move there and take care of her. I know that because I am only a niece – I am not considered family, so I can’t try for a green card that way. She needs much more help than she gets and since I am retired and she and her husband let me live with them many many years ago in Canada, I love to move and help her. She has been in that States for 40 years but only has her green card. Is there any way I could move to the US for a few years?

  142. My Ontario Canada born daughter took a job with a travel nursing agency and was sent to San diego hospital on a contract . She got her TN visa of course. She has been there since Nov. 2010 as the hospital has renewed the agency contract over and over. Her TN visa was for 3 years. She also got a per diem job at another hospital going to tijuana to get that TN visa.

    She has come home 5 times in the last 1 1/2 years and all have been before the 6 months was up. The hospital wants her to sign on full time which would mean leaving the Travel Nurse agency. She would need another TN visa because this job would be with the hospital not the travel nursing agency. She plans to get that TN visa when she visits in June. Does taking a full time job change things because she isn’t there as a travel nurse anymore?

    My question is this. does she need to make sure she comes home for a visit within every 6 months? She pays for Ontario OHIP coverage at tax time each year, she sees her doctor and dentist whenever she visits. Her mail all comes to her home, with me.

    I thank you for any advise you can give.

  143. Thank you for taking my question. I am a Permanent Resident of Ontario and still an US citizen, I have met someone in the States and would like to move there permanently. Will I lose my Canada Pension and Old Age Pension, if I do this. I also collect OMERS what about this pension.

    If and when I arrive in the states I would have to apply for Medicare, I think.

    • Virginia:
      You should not lose your Canada pension or your OAS, but if you get it all may depend on how long you have lived in Canada. I don’t know your situation so I can’t give you an absolute answer on that. You need to check on that with Canada pensions. I don’t know what OMERS is. In the U.S. you would have to apply for Medicare but I don’t know your age or work history so you would have to contact Medicare for details.

      Milan

  144. Hi

    My wife and I are both Canadian citizens and live in Ontario. We own a home in Henderson, NV (no mortgage). We bought it in 2008 and started to spend time some time there. In 2011 we spent 90 days, in 2010 we spent 120 days and in 2009 we only spent 60 days. According to the resident/non-resident 3 year formula we qualify as non-resident aliens, since we spent less than 183 days according to the formula. My wife and I are both retired and we are not renting our home. We have no US income only Canadian income. Now, we plan to spend 150 days in 2012 in our US home . So, according to the resident/non-resident 3 year formula we exceed the 183 days total. So do we now qualify as resident aliens even though we have no US income?? Do we still have to submit IRS form 8840?? Please clarify this for me.

    My next question is when we do sell our house sometime in the future, do we have to file US taxs or Canadian taxes? Do I need a SSN to do this??

    Thanks

    Mario

    • Mario:

      You are confusing the non-resident alien for tax purpose rules and the visitors allowance rules. The three year formula you refer to only establishes that you are a non-resident alien subject to U.S. taxes–which, if you file your 8840, you can avoid. It appears you have been doing that, so don’t stop. Despite that, you are still allowed to spend up to 182 (not three–two) days per calendar year or per the last 12 months. That is not affected by your alien tax status. Two sets of rules.

      If you sell your house in Nevada you will have to file with the IRS. they don’t need your SSN, just your money.

      Milan

  145. Refused Entry-
    Hi,hoping I can get some help. just returned from that airport being refused entry to the States..I am a Canadian. it was a horrible procedure. I had to wait while he did paperwork. called me in and asked had I ever been arrested. answer was no. he then took my finger prints and eye scan…I was quilty of an overstay of 7 days. he kept telling me how he was giving me the less invasive one…because there is a 5year ban on entering. I was in complete shock the whole time..and I am still not sure what is going on…he mentioned something I think about not entering for 6months..6months from when…I am completely confused; I provided him reasons why I would stay in Canada. but I guess it was not enough…can anyone help me with this. please n ty..

    • Tisha:

      Obviously you broke some rules. Get legal help from an immigration lawyer quickly before this stains your record any further. I don’t know enough of the details to advise you.

      Milan

  146. This thread is so informative!

    My parents are retired and live in Ontario. They travel to Greece for several months each year. They also come to the US to visit me. I am unclear about “calendar and rolling year” and their eligibility to travel abroad this summer without jeopardizing their residency and/or health benefits.

    Typically, they have a snowbird travel schedule, heading to Greece in late Fall and returning in early Spring, but this year, since I am planning to go to Greece with my family this summer, they want to join us. My concern is that they may not be eligible.

    This is their recent travel:

    Greece Sept 2010 – March 2011 (approx 6 months)
    Ontario March – April 2011 (one month)
    US – May 2011 (one month)
    Ontario June – September 2011 (4 months)
    Greece October 2011 – February 2012 (5.5 months)
    Ontario mid-March 2012 -April 2012 (one month)
    US – April 2012 (one month)
    Ontario – May -June 2012 (1.5 months)

    plans:
    Greece mid June – mid August 2012 (2 months)

    and if able -
    return to Ontario mid August -mid-October 2012 (2 months)
    Greece mid October -mid December 2012 (2 months)

    That is a lot of travel. Without having exact nubmer of days, can you help me determine whether they are jeopardizing their residency and or/medical benefits?

    • Meri:

      You can do your own counting. All you need to know is that since they live in Ontario they are allowed to be out of the province a total of 212 days (seven months) out of the last 12 months–a rolling year. If they are out longer, they risk losing their provincial health benefits but they won’t lose their OAS or Canada pension.

      Milan

  147. Milan,

    I live in Vancouver BC with my wife and son…all CDN citizens. We just purchased a vacation home just across the border in WA state. My wife and I are self-employed. Our son is 5. Is there an issue with staying at our vacation home for the summer…and commuting back and forth across the border to our office? In other words…can we “live” or “sleep” in the USA while coming back to Canada each day…then back to the USA each evening for the summer? If we can’t do that…what about just going up to our office in Canada every couple or 3 days?

    Thx

    Jim

    • Jim:

      Each time you cross over to the U.S., for an hour or 12, you are considered to have stayed a day out of your 182 day allotment.

      Milan

  148. Hi Milan,

    Just curious about how the US border agents know when I go back to Canada. I guess when my passport is swiped at the Canadian entry point, the information automatically go to the US? Has this always been the case?

    Thanks,

    Sue

    • Sue:
      There is no official information about these things. There are a variety of ways U.S. border agents can get information about your crossings–some of which you volunteer to them when they ask questions. We are told there is considerable sharing of cross border information but no one in authority has ever suggested that when the Canadian agent swipes your passport on your return it “automatically” goes to the U.S. computers. That would be politically pretty sensitive and I think we would have heard about it. More likely, spot checks. Has it always been like this? No. It’s only its only in the past decade of terror threats that the toughening of border standards has evolved. It’s only in the past decade that Canadians have begun getting passports for travel to the U.S.

      Milan

  149. my son is a permanent resident in canada, he lived there for 8 months and go back to philippines..,right now he is alrready 4 months,..how many more days to stay in his country? and can he extend his stay for 2 months?

    • Sylvia:

      I don’t fully understand your question or how long your son has been a permanent resident of Canada, but the general rule is that he he must live in Canada for at least 2 years in a five year period to keep his permanent resident status.

      Milan

  150. Hi Milan,

    I’ve read through the threads and would like to thank you for helping to clarify a sometimes confusing topic. I think I have a rather unique question.

    I am a Canadian who fully meets all of the requirements for a TN-1 (Trade NAFTA status) VISA. I’ve spent the past two years traveling between the United States and Canada, exploring this great continent. Each time I’ve entered the US, I’ve been granted entry without a visa (received a stamp with “B-2″ but no I-94 or return date). I have never exceeded 182 days on each trip or 182 days in a calender year. However, I am pretty close (within a few days) with the rolling 12 month period.

    Is this something I should be worried about if I have all of the proper documentation to support TN-1 status? Were I to breach that 182 days in a rollings 12-month period, is that considered “exceeding” my previous stay and would it disqualify me for any other VISA? If so, I may wait a few more months before applying for the TN-1.

    Thank you,

    John

    • John:

      Your TN status does not bind you to the 182 day rule: that’s for visitors. Just make sure that each time you come through you designate that it’s on your TN status.
      Just make sure your TN visa is in perfect condition. I don’t know what kind of job you have, but it sounds pretty good.

      Milan

  151. Fantastic info, have been on the web for days trying to find answers. There is a lot of confusion out there…

    We are Canadian’s that show horses in the US and maintain a residence in Texas. We really wish to live in the US and are in the process of a Treaty Trader VISA (my husband’s business falls perfectly into this category). We are restructuring the company somewhat, so that this is all possible. We are waiting for licensing etc, and is taking longer than we had expected. Consequently we nearing the end of our 6 month stay.

    My question is, can/should we fill out an I-539 (application to extend stay) as we continue with our VISA process?

    • Audra:

      Everything takes longer when you deal with government. But it sounds as if you are doing things right. Yes, extend your stay and get it on record that you have.

      Milan

  152. Hi Milan,

    My father and my step mother are Canadian citizens and they reside in Quebec. They are both over 80 and have poor health. I am a US citizen and my question is if I obtain green cards for them, would they lose their retirement and medical care in Canada?

    Thanks

    Haifa

    • Haifa:

      They would not lose their old age security benefits or any pension benefits, but they would lose their provincial medicare and at their age it would be virtually impossible for them to get private health coverage. They might be able to buy into U.S. Medicare but it is expensive. Also, getting green cards, for parents or children or siblings, is very difficult and takes a very long time. Since they are 80, I would not hold out much encouragement. The biggest problem is their health insurance.

      Milan

  153. Milan, If you are an artist and paint in the US and want to bring your paintings home to Canada, will the US Border or Canadian Border give you any problems. Also I may travel into the US to shop while I am home in my border town of Windsor ON; does a four hour visit count as a day of my 182 that I am allowed to be away in the US. Thank you

    • Jan:

      It is possible you may be questioned as you are not really going to the U.S. as a visitor, but doing work there. You are not really a visitor according to the B visa definition. A lot depends on the border agent, so you don’t have any guarantees. And Yes, a four hour visit countsd as a day.

      Milan

      • I have two questions. Say I go to the US on March 13 and return on March 20, do I have to count March
        20 has a day still their. How does the 189 days work. Is it from January to December and in between
        to total 189 days or does it carry through. Say I was to leave for the US in October and come back the
        end of December and then go back in February, is that still the 189 days or is that a new day count.

        • Vie:

          If you are in the U.S. for any part of March 20, Yes, you count it. And the 189 days you refer to is 182 days–that’s all you’re allowed in the U.S., as a visitor. Normally it counts on a calendar basis though the border agent may well consider the last 12 months as the threshhold. If you go in October and stay through December, then go back again in February, the border agent will want to know how long you are going for. If you say six months, you will likely have a problem because he will consider that you are spending more time in the U.S. than Canada and he might deny you entry. These rules are not hard and fast. The border agents have a lot of authority in sizing you up and determining if you are trying to game the system or work within it. And their word is law.

          Milan

  154. I have read through your responses and am still not sure about the calculation of the 182 days. We are planning on going to Florida the 1st of October and returning to our Ontario home around the 15th of December, then returning to Florida on January 2nd until the end of March. We have been told that if we do not return to Ontario for a minimum of 30 days – between US stays that the days while home would be counted as being in the US and therefore part of our 182 days. IE – Return December 15th leave for US on January 2nd, this would only be 18 days out of the country, therefore these days home would be counted in our 182 day stay period in the US. How is the calculation made relative to days in and out of the country? Thanks Brian

    • Brian:

      What you have been told is correct. If you return home for less than 30 days
      on a prolonged trip, that will be counted as part of your 182 day allotment. If efect, it wil be considered on single trip. If you return home and stay longer than 30 days, it will not be counted against your 182 day alloment–it will be considered two separate trips. But note: you are still only allowed 182 days per the calendar year or the previous 12 months.

      Milan

      • Hi Milan!

        Thanks so much for replying to Brian Knowles about the 30 daysbeing out of the country …. my parents are in the same situation and just found out about this — they have been back and forth for Christmas for the last few years (Florida to Ontario) and didn’t know about this.

        We have been searching online for anything written about this — including the US Gov’t website … do you happen to have a link or a webpage we could go to just to educate ourselves about it? Thanks again!

        Alana

        • Alana:

          Don’t expect clarity from governments. You will not find clear, concise explanations of this rule on any website. The information is gathered from many disparate sources–some of them letters from government officials responding request from groups such as Canadian Snowbird Association, or guys like me, or others. I hate to be a blowhard, but the best way for you to stay informed about these issues is to stay tuned in to us and similar blogs. We have done the groundwork and it hasn’t been easy.

          Milan

          • I understand that as Canadian citizens and snowbirds, we cannot stay in the US for more than 182 consecutive days, or more than 182 days per-year. It has been our practice to enter in the fall, return home for a couple of weeks for Christmas and then return to the US and stay until late spring. We have been careful to make sure no trip is more than 182 consecutive days actually spent in the US, and that we never spend more than 182 days per-year in the US. So far we have had no issues with US Customs. My question is: Can US Customs retroactively decide that we have overstayed the 182 day limit, by deciding now that one of our trips home did not count as time out of the country, because that time out was less than 30 days?

            Thanks
            Bob

          • Bob:

            The U.S. border control agents can pretty well do what they want since the rules they go by are often interpreted slightly differently from one agent to another. But for them to go back and search out your records would likely be more work than they want to do. If you have been following the rules consistently, as it appears you have, and they have never questioned you, the chances of them acting retroactively are extremely small. Remember, they are not at their posts to make life difficult for you. The U.S. welcomes you and your money. They just need to make sure that the people they let in for long periods appear to know the rules and are prepared to play by them. Usually they can tell that just by talking to you, and you certainly appear to be playing by the rules. If I were you, I would not lose two seconds of sleep over your travel history.

            Milan

        • try google u.s.a. form 8841 this keeps you connected to Canada and gives you the proper form to fill in each year. Calendar year re the 182 days.

          • Wayne:

            Wrong on both counts. The 8841 IRS form deals with deferral of taxes for U.S. residents. Wrong form.

            What you shold be referring to is the 8840, the Closer Connection Exeemption status for Aliens form which allows you to document that even though you are subject to U.S. taxes on the basis of your time spent in the U.S. you have a closer connection to Canada and you have an exemption from paying those taxes.

            This is usually intended for snowbirds who spend long periods in the U.S. each year. This has nothing to do with the 182 day limit.

            Milan

  155. Milan,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to all of these questions posted above. I read through most of them and have my own.

    I’m a Canadian resident by birth who just got stopped by Customs and Boarder Protection and consequently missed my flight. The Officer said that I didn’t have enough evidence that ties me to Canada. I work at my parents business and reside there. I don’t receive a conventional method of payment because it’s family owned. I have a company card that I’m permitted to use for whatever I need.

    The agent suggested that if I don’t have pay stubs, etc that I could provide a letter from my father indicating that I work for him but this might not be taken seriously. He said “it would be the rough equivalent of saying “Dear Teacher, Timmy didn’t go to school yesterday because he was sick, Signed Dad”

    He also said the only way to see if that will be a good enough piece of evidence is to re-book a flight and go through security. I was hoping to talk to an Officer and get this cleared up before purchasing another ticket. I was going to buy a transferable-refundable ticket but they are close to twice the cost of the tickets I’m purchasing.

    Lastly, my overstay was by 20 days. I was in the US from Nov until the end of May. Is it possible to travel or is that considered my 6 months for the year?

    I’m uncertain of how to proceed. I’d like to go to the US as soon as possible to be there while my financee is there. If you have any advice on my situation I’d appreciate it.

    • Daniel:

      Given your profile, I’d say the border agent was right. You can’t show that you are employed or that you have a closer connection to Canada and you overstayed on your last visit. It does look as if you have a closer connection to the U.S. than Canada and that’s what border agents look for. Never mind about getting cheap non-refundable airline tickets. You have more fundamental issues to deal with, especially if you plan to marry in the U.S. I think you know what you have to do. Skip the shortcuts and do it right. Establish your Canadian residency and decide if you are going to be a Canadian or a U.S. resident. You can’t have it both ways.

      Milan

  156. Next December we plan to go to Florida for approximately 135 days. We are renting a home from a friend and are planning to drive the friend’s car there with the intention of leaving it in Florida and flying back to Canada at the end of March. Do we need special documentation at the border with respect to taking someone else’s car into the US?

    Joan

  157. Hi Milan. Wow, the Information you provide is more than informative thank you so much for that!
    After reading through all these posts I have come to the conclusion that my mom has unknowingly spent too much time in the US. In Oct 2011 she crossed into US teritory and returned back to Canada for Christmas on Dec 7th. She returned to the US on Jan 2 2012 and remained there untill May 20th 2012.
    Based on the info you provide here she was not out of the US for 30days in Dec 2011 which means she has surpased her 182 days by approx 25 days . She was under the impression that once she left the US to go back to Canada for Christmas it woulnt count towards her 182 days , meaning she was 100% legal. She is worried sick over this and wants to know what will happen when she heads to the US in Nov of 2012 for the winter (Snobird).
    Will a flag be raised automatically at the crossing and her be denied entry? Is it only a random check that would cause her any grief ? And if she is questioned about how much time she has spent in the US , How should she prepare herself in order to gain entry into the US for the 2012-13 season?

    Thanks I really apprciate your efforts

    • Bruce:

      No flag will automatically be raised. It is all up to the border agent. If he feels she overstayed unintentionally he may just let her go, maybe with a warning. But she should not make a habit of it. Know the rules and play by them: they are generous enough. When she goes back to the border she should have plenty of documentation showing she has a closer connection to Canada than the U.S. e.g., a property tax bill, home or apartment lease, television cable bill, telephone bill, copy of an 8840 closer connection form (which she she should be filing annually with the IRS in the U.S.), any of these should do.

      I would also strongly suggest, as I do to all snowbirds, that she signup for the Snowbird Plus program on our homepage, which will give her access to the Snowbird e-book with articulates all of these rules in detail. Membership is free on
      a trial basis until Labour Day.

      Milan

  158. Hi Milan,

    My husband and I are retired and have bought a home in Florida living 6 months in both US and Canada. My question is this: My husband has bought a vehicle here for us to use while living here, we are thinking of driving it to Canada to bring back some hosehold items, DO WE HAVE TO PAY TAXES ON THIS VEHICLE when we cross the border in Canada?

    • Teresa:

      First let me say that I am not a tax expert and your question would be better directed to a tax specialist who knows cross border issues.

      But, I assume your vehicle is licensed and titled in Florida, in which case you are free to drive across the border into Canada without any tax liability. But have your paperwork with you–title, insurance, license. And since you are going to bring household items back into the U.S., you should check what the U.S. customs people might restrict, such as certain foodstuffs. Also, since you have a Florida-based car, the U.S. border agent might be especially vigilant to make sure you plan on returning to Canada and do not intend to stay in the U.S. longer than 182 days. You will need good documentation to prove you have a closer connection to Canada, such as an up to date 8840 IRS form. To a border agent you may look a lot like an undocumented U.S. resident. You don’t want that.

      Milan

  159. Just need some advice , I am a Canadian citizen my dad retired to Fl. well i came down for a visit 13years ago ,at the time i meet a American and got married/now divorced well I’m a permanent resident been working down here and just wanted to see my dads last days well he now has passed on to the heavens……..so my question is will i have a hard time re-establishing coming back to B.C. been gone since 1994 …still have a valid Canadian passport just need some input thanx for any replies ””’I MISS CANADIANS ITS NOT THE SAME DOWN HERE ATTITUDES

    • Kirk:

      As a Canadian citizen, you can return to Canada anytime to reestablish your residency. You are still a citizen. If you plan on living in B.C.,you immediately go to the ministry of health office closest to you and tell them you want to re-establish for purposes of getting coverage under medicare. After three months of actually living on B.C. soil you will become eligible for provincial healthcare. That’s about it.

      Milan

  160. You’ve got a great blog – I’ve learned so much! But I’ve got a rather unique situation, kind of a long story, but you’ll find it interesting… at 40 years old I want to be a “snowbird.” I really don’t like the cold winters in Canada. I’ve thought about moving to Vancouver Island, but I’d rather spend 4-6 months each winter in the US.

    To save money, I plan on “RVing” around America in my converted van (taking care to stay in the US less than 182 days). There are lots of great festivals and events I’d like to go to, and I hear there are many places I can camp or park my “RV” for free. I will probably be on a tight budget, and am worried that a border agent may be suspicious. I’m a bit of a “free spirit” and some would even say “eccentric” so my employment stability has not been consistent. My generous parents (bless them!) have been giving me $1500 a month for the last few years. I’m laid off work until September. To save some more money, I plan on returning to work in September, and quit in November (or take a leave of absence if permitted). Hopefully my parents will continue their generous support of $1500 a month. I can get bank records to show as proof.

    Another reason I’d like to go RVing across America is to see and experience as many communities as possible for the purpose of choosing a place to buy a condo or house for regular winter snowbird getaways. The reality is, my parents are getting older and won’t be around too much longer (maybe a year, maybe 3 years, maybe 5 years, maybe more, who knows). They might like a more gentle winter in a warm US city too. When they pass on, I stand to inherit a sizeable amount of money. Once I do, I plan on buying a house or condo in Canada for the summer months and one in the US for the winter months. So honestly, another reason for this trip is to see where I’d like that place to be! I will also set up travel health insurance before leaving, and could set it to expire in 182 days, to show intent to return to Canada before it expires.

    Do you think a border patrol agent would let me in to the US, or be suspicious and turn me away under these circumstances? In an effort to show more strong ties to Canada, I’m currently putting together a home based web design business this summer that will generate a modest monthly recurring income. Since “telecommuting” via the Internet is apparently not permitted as a Canadian visitor to the US, I can economically outsource the work to overseas virtual assistants (once I set things up, the monthly work will be minimal and easy to train someone on). This would keep the income flowing in to my Canadian bank account, which I could withdraw at ATM’s in the US. I don’t pay rent at my parent’s place, but have many other expenses such as vehicle insurance, cell phone, Internet, etc that I pay monthly, so that should indicate a tie to Canada. My van and drivers licence are registered at my parent’s address in Ontario where I currently live.

    What do you think? Do I have a good chance of proving to a border patrol agent that I still have strong ties to Canada, will be returning to Canada in less than 6 months and have a means of supporting myself?

    • Peter:

      I’m going to be frank with you, because maybe it’s time somebody was. At 40 years old, with no steady employment, living off your parents, with no fixed destination in mind when entering the U.S., and trying to live off $1,500 a month you ask if a border agent would be suspicious? You’ve got to be kidding.

      Milan

      • Hi Milan, in the past I’ve lived on $2000 a month for several years when I was at my last full time job, which included paying rent, utilities, food, etc. There was rarely any leftover money, but if I travel and live in my camperized van with no rent or utilities, I know I can make it on $1500 a month. But if you think I’d have trouble entering the US when I tell this to the border crossing agent, I’ll have to reconsider my plan of action. Perhaps I could pare it down to 6 or 8 weeks and show some savings in a bank account? But now, I’ve got some disabilities (physical and learning/functional) which keep me from working at, and holding down a regular job. Believe me, I’d like nothing more than to be self-sufficient and earning $5k to $10k a month. It just isn’t happening.

        Last year, I had no trouble passing through the border for a 1 week trip down to Florida, with the main attraction being a weekend seminar I won a free ticket to (just the seminar, nothing else was included). I’ve also gone across the border for a week at a time for other events in New York and DC. All were by car, which was registered to me. But maybe they were more lenient when they know it’s for just a week?

        I REALLY want to go to the southern US for the winter, at least for the months of January and February. I’m motivated to make this work and would rather not give up on the dream. Do you think I’d have more luck going for a shorter visit with a couple grand in the bank as reserve? (in addition to my $1500 allowance)? I really want to make this happen, thanks! :)

  161. Hey Milan

    I have a question for you… I moved to the US last year in June and have been here since then until now… but i also have ties to Canada as well as a permanent residence there. I just renewed last year b4 I left so I was wondering since I’m a US citizen and have residency status in Canada… have I now lost that since I’ve been in the US for over 1 year? My ties to Canada are that my dad and ex step family are there and friends as well. My friend is still living in my old apartment under his name now; I still have some thing at my old apartment.

    But I have registered with CRA that my current address is here in the US and they cut off my benefits because I wasn’t living in Ontario… when I moved here I found information that I was allowed to be out of the country for 3 of 5 yrs before losing my residency… I need advice about this situation.

  162. Hi Milan,

    Thanks for the advise, much appreciated. However, I thought if you were from Ontario you were allowed to stay in the US for 7 months?

    • Theresa:
      No. You are allowed to stay out of Ontario for seven months without losing your OHIP. That is an Ontario law. But the U.S law does not allow you to stay in the U.S. for more than six months. Two separate rules–nothing to do with each other. If you want to stay in the U.S. for six months, and Portugal or Ireland or France for one month more, that’s ok: you’re not breaking any rules.

      Milan

  163. Re driving an American plated car in Canada: Canadian residents are not permitted to drive cars registered in America. The law has recently been changed allowing Canadian residents to drive rental cars but that is new (June 2012). if you want to drive an American plated car into Canada then you need to pay a $200 fee plus GST on the Blue Book value of the car. Canada sees you as importing the car and expects you to pay tax on it, even if you say you are only using it temporarily and intend to return to the US with the car.

    • Brian:

      Thanks for your update. This is a complicated issue and it can’t be fully covered in an exchange of queries and answers. The best we can do is advise any Canadian resident that taking a U.S. registered and/or plated car into Canada for even a short time requires advance preparation. It can be a complicated and costly business and should not be attempted without prior knowledge of the rules that apply. In effect, it’s a tax grab issue, and when governments see a source of taxation, they can be merciless in drowning you in paperwork.

      Milan

  164. Hi Milan,
    My daughter is 24 years old and just completed her university education here in Ontario. She has been dating a young man from Winnipeg for the past 2 years who is currently playing professional hockey in Texas. The plan was that she would go and live with him for the hockey season, beginning in mid to late September and return when the season was finished, anytime from March to May depending on play-offs. She has earned enough money this summer to support herself while she lives in Texas.
    She would obviously be in violation of the 183 day rule. Under the circumstances, should she apply for a visa?

    • Barbara:

      The problem is:what kind of visa? If she’s not working in the U.S. legally on a green card, or she is not a student on a student visa, or posted in the U.S. for a Canadian employer, she doesn’t fit any visa categories. There are no visa categories for girl friends of hockey players. That she has enough money to support herself doesn’t matter. Maybe she just ought to marry the hockey player.

      Milan

  165. Milan,

    I just read your comment about snowbirds returning home for a christmas visit. I was shocked to find out that if the number of days spent back in Canada for a Christmas visit is less than 30 days- those days will be counted as part of the 182 allowable days in the U.S. So the U.S. is counting more than just the ” actual” days in the U.S. as part of the 182 days. Plus, if a Canadian goes to the U.S. for a short shopping day-trip, at any time of the year- the U.S is sure to also count that as part of the 182 days. Doesn’t seem fair-but I know we have no say in the matter.
    My actual question is about your wording: Is it 182 days per calendar year? or 182 days per any 12 month period?
    If it is per calendar year as you have stated, it sounds like a person could be in the u.S. for 182 days in 2012; then on January 1st/2013 they could return for another 182 days in 2013. But what you have been dscribing sounds more like any 12 month period. Please clarify.
    Thank you so much for your time in answering.

    • Penny:

      Yes, it is slightly confusing because border agents are given a lot of discretion in determining whether they think a traveller is seriously intending to return to Canada for permanent residency. If there was one set of wording that articulated the rules clearly clearly I would give it to you, but there isn’t. There are various sets of rules and we have to patch them together. The bottom line however is that you are allowed 6 months in one calendar year in total, but no more than six months in the previous 12 months. What that means is that if you spend the last half of 2012 in the U.S. and then after three days at home returned to the border and said you were heading down for another six months at the beginning of 2013, the border agent would likely not be sympathetic, because clearly you were planning to spend 12 consecutive months in the U.S.–so how can you call yourself a Canadian resident? The U.S. border agent has one thing in his mind when he looks into your eyes: are you really a Canadian resident or are you living in the U.S. under the radar.

      Milan

  166. Hi,

    I am been dating a USA man for well over a year and a half now. I live in Vancouver and him in Bellingham, we travel back forth every weekend and through out the week. I have been told that the way they calculate time is different than i would think. Is it via calendar year or from lets say febuary 2011-febuary 2012? i am currently at 116 days in August and i started to count January 1st 2012. If i go in friday and come out monday, thats only 4 days to my total?

    We have applied for I-129F but it is taking forever, Second question is can i apply for another visa while i wait for my !-129 to be approved? i have been offered a job in the USA?

    Thanks,

    Laurie

    • Laurie:

      It’s both. 182 days in a calendar year and/or 182 in the past 12 months (a rolling year). For you, you must add up all your days and roll them back over the past 12 months. It’s really up to the border agent. If he suspects you are spending more time in the U.S. than in Canada and you don’t plan on returning, or you don’t have real roots in Canada, he can turn you back–no questions asked. It looks as if you have as many roots in the U.S. as in Canada, so you need to be careful.

      Milan

  167. Hi
    My wife and I live in Calgary and are planning a RV trip across Canada during the summer and autumn months of 2015 and then south to the US for the winter and spring and maybe summer of 2016. Although still early in the planning process we were thinking of leaving in the spring 2015 and return next fall 2016. We are planning to apply for a travel visa as we may be in the US for more than 6 months in 2016 but we had not considered provincial health care rules.

    From what I’ve gathered from this blog is that technically, we really can’t leave Alberta until July 1, 2015 no matter what date we cross into the US (say Oct 15 2015). Also we would have to be back in Alberta July 1, 2016. Is that correct?

    Conrad J

    • Conrad:

      You’ve got a couple of questions there. The first is that you plan on applying for a “travel visa” to stay in the U.S. for longer than six months. I don’t know what kind of visa you are talking about because you are allowed no more than six months, period. If you are assuming there is such a travel visa, you need to research that again. About your provincial health rules I didn’t quite understand what you meant when you said techically you can’t leave Alberta July 1, 2015, etc. That’s not clear to me, but the rules are that you must physically reside in Albert for six months per calendar year. However, you can apply for an extended leave once every five years, and you might qualify for that, but you need to make special application.

      Milan

  168. Hi, Thanks for taking the time to read this,

    I currently live n Toronto, Canada but my wife who is also Canadian just moved to Boston and started her two year MBA program at MIT. I have a lot of money in Canada and I was wondering if it was possible for me to stay longer than 6 months somehow in the US with her, while she is attending school there. I wouldn’t be working in the US because I have a renovation business in Canada that would be running without me. What would happen if I stayed with her for lets say a year? Would I not be allowed entry back into Canada? Or would I just lose my medicare benefits?

    Thank you

    Igor

    • Igor:
      Your re-entry to Canada is not the problem. As a Canadian citizen you can always go back to Canada. But the U.S. won’t let you stay for longer than six months and there is no visa to cover your situation. Also, normally, OHIP requires you to be present in the province for at least five months to retain your medicare benefits. But they do have provision for one-time out of province extensions every several years if you apply directly to the health ministry. You need to do that before you go.

      Milan

  169. Let’s say you spend 182 days in the US and live close to the border. If you return to the US on occasion to shop, buy gas etc. but do not spend the night, do these days still count?
    Question 2. On the same line let’s say you never spend a night in the US but living close to the border you cross to go to church, shop, AA meetings etc., 5 days a week would you be in violation?

    ken

    • Ken:

      Yes. Anytime you cross into the U.S., whether to buy gas or have hot wings or go to church, you have used up one day–although not all border agents are that obsessive they will make an issue of it. If they see you are reasonable and understand the consequences, they won’t execute you.

      Milan

  170. Thanks in advance for your response. With regard to receiving a pension from Canada, I hear that if one stays out of the country for more than six months, one’s regular pension amount would be lessened by a certain percentage. If someone were to spend 8 months in the Caribbean, how would Canada’s pension department be the wiser?

    • Chris:

      I am no expert on pensions so please check this out with the Canada government website, but the amount of your government pension is based on how long you lived in Canada and whether or not you qualified for a full or partial pension. Where you live once you qualify doesn’t matter–the Caribbean or Tibet. But what you must watch for is that if you spend eight months in the Caribbean you will forsake your provincial medicare, and if you lose that, you won’t be able to count on travel insurance either as that is only available to people who have government health insurance.

      Milan

  171. Thank you Milan for all your great input,

    I have a scenario where my common law wife of 13 years has been granted a u.s.a permanent resident green card based on her indian status card (more than 50 percent) her daughter (not my child her father is deceased) is 15 years of age, is she entitled to follow her to the u.s.a and what can be done for me to stay in u.s.a??

    I appreciate your time and look forward to your response.
    thank you,
    Darryl

    • Darryl:

      I don’t know enough about the Native American status regulations to give you a definitive answer. Your American consulate can answer that. But so far as you going down, it gets complicated because I don’t know if you plan on working (which you can’t do without a green card or other type of work visa) or just retiring. Easiest way is just to marry your common law.

      Milan

  172. Hi Milan……we spend 182 days in the USA, my question is, if we decided to go to Mexico for 10 days would that give us an extra 10 days that we could stay in the USA or are we still restricted to the 182 days..the 10 days would be a cruise…

    • Jackie:
      Your question is a little unclear to me, so let me guess what you mean. If you mean you would travel from the U.S. on a 10-day cruise to Mexico, then re-enter the U.S., that 10 days would be counted against your 182. In other words, any sidetrip you take out of the U.S. during your stay there, will be counted against your 182.–unless your trip out of the U.S. was longer than 30 days, in which case it would not be counted. If I did not get the essence of your question right, get back to me and we’ll fix it.

      Milan

  173. What about this scenario to breach the 6 month limit – Canadian snowbird formally applies for a B-2 6 month Visa, and from this status applies for an extension toward the end of the 6 months from the US?

    I read on an American Hospital website that Canadians going down for medical treatment that may need several months should enter under a formal B-2 tourist visa, otherwise, entering the normal document-less way, the option of applying for an extension is not available.

    For Ontario people, this would permit using the full 7 month travel window.

    • Randy:

      The B2, for which you don’t have to formally apply, gives you six months. Period. The information you are getting from the hospital might well refer to people who have voluntarily chosen to go to the U.S. for treatment and are paying for it on their own. In which case, they might get a visa from the U.S. for medical care, but that is not your story.

      If you deliberately plan on going to the U.S. for medical care, without prior authorization from OHIP, neither OHIP nor your travel insurer–if you have one–will pay for it. They only pay for unforseen emergencies, not preplanned care,

      If you’re just looking for a way to “breach” the six month limit, applying for an extension, even if you use the medical grounds excuse, won’t get you anywhere. Get used to it: six months per year or per the previous 12 months.

      Milan

  174. Hi there*
    Thank you for all your information, as others have mentioned, this site is very informative, especailly in comparison to the government sites.
    l hope you can help me understand if l am calculating the days Out of Counrty/Canada properly please & also to When My next Rolling Calendar year begins.

    l am a Canadian Citizen, now a thankful Snowbird travelling to FL.
    l know we are allowed to be In the USA for 182 days, & if we go back to Canada during our time In the US & do not stay HOme in Canada for 30 days then the US continues to count it as if we were still in their COuntry.
    It’s the rolling calendar that l am not sure of, as to it’s actaul beginning & end.
    l have very strong ties to my beloved Homeland ~Canada~

    l hope this is not too much information but l don’t know of any other way to, hopefully, get an answer & noT break any Laws.

    : l crossed into the USA Dec 26,2011(that’s 6 days Out of Canada)
    l was in the US ALL of Jan(31)/Feb(29)/Mar(31)/Apr(30)
    & the 1st (11 days) in May (that’s 132 Out of Canada)
    June (out of Canada from the 20th -30th) 11 days Out of Canada)
    July (out of Canada from 1st-18th ) 13 days Out of Canada)
    Aug In Canada all month
    Sept (8 days Out of Canada)
    Oct In Canada all month
    November ?(l am wondering if l have 7* days remaining, that l can be Out of Canada/in the US, if l allow 30 days before my hopeful Departure in Dec on the 27th?)

    I wonder if the Beginning of My next Rolling Calendar Year Begins Dec 27th, 2012 or When please?

    I truly apprecaite & look forward to receiving any input you can offer me.
    Thank you in advance for your time & possible clarity in this matter.

    SIncerely
    CindY

    PS: Wondering with 2012 being a Leap Year(of 366 days) does that extra day get added to Our possible days away? ALways someting to think about.

    • Cindy:

      The rolling calendar primarly affects those folks who stay out of the country five or six months at a time.

      It’s there to prevent someone from staying in the U.S. from July through the end of December, going home for a coupleof weeks or a month and then trying to re-enter in January for another six months. In your case, you are best to count up your days on a calendar year basis, which is just as legitimate.

      Milan

      • Milan:
        You didn’t answer the question about 2012 having 366 days in it. Won’t that mean 6 mths could be 183 days for that leap year and an extra for staying in US?

        • Edith:

          If I didn’t answer your question, it’s because I didn’t see it. But yes, you are right, six months–depending on which you pick, can have over 182 days. The U.S. rules cite months and not days, so it is possible, if you pick the right months and years, for you to have an extra couple of days.

          Milan

    • Thank You Milan for clearing the matter up for me.
      The countdown is on!
      Very much appreciated.
      Sincerely
      CindY

  175. Hi Milan,

    My boyfriend is a US citizen and I am Canadian. We plan to get married and live in the US .

    I would like to retain my Canadian citizenship and apply for US permanent residence after getting married. What is your take on this choice? Can I permanently live in the US with my husband as a permanent resident?
    What are the complications if I become a US citizen and also keep my Canadian citizen at the same time?

    If I become a full time housewife and residing in the US with my husband do I have any tax obligations whatsoever in Canada (as a Canadian citizen) and how about in the US?

    Your input and advice would be greatly appreciated as I am getting so confused with all these changes of residency and status.

    Ina

    • Ina:

      You’ve got a bunch of questions here. When you get married and live in the U.S. you will have to get a visa (I won’t go into details on that, you’ll have to do that through the consulate). You will not, however, be entitled to work there until you have a work visa or Green card. You will not lose your Canadian citizenship. You will be allowed to stay on your Green Card, or you may after five years apply for U.S. citizenship, in which case you still won’t lose your Canadian citizenship. You will, in effect be a dual citizen, though the U.S. recognizes only your U.S. citzenship–it doesn not disallow you from holding Canadian citizenship.

      If you become a full time housewife in the U.S. with no earnings or bank accounts in Canada you will not have to pay taxes to Canada even if you remain a Canadian citizen but I warn you that I am not a tax expert and I would advise you to speak to one to be clear on this issue.

      Milan

  176. Hi Milan

    My granddaughter has been living in the us for 5 years -she still is a cdn citizen and holds a resident card. Wld she be allowed to attend school here and then return for the summers in us… She is15

    Thank you

    • Diane:

      As a Canadian citizen she can return to Canada any time, establish residency and go to school there.
      She may have to wait three months to requalify for medicare. But Since I don’t know what her status was living in the U.S. I don’t know if she will be able to return there for the summers. If she is not a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, that may be the bigger question.

      Milan

  177. Hi Milan,
    If you are a U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport, living in Ontario, Canada since 1973, as a Landed Immigrant/Permanent Resident——–
    My two questions are:
    -Does the rule still apply, 6months (157 days) only, per year in the United States?
    -When returning to Ontario, Canada, does the 30 day stay, before leaving Canada again also apply?

    Thank you

    • Nikki:

      As a U.S. citizen you can go to the U.S. whenever you want for as long as you want. There is no mandatory 30 day re-entry restriction; that only applies if you are a Canadian snowbird or long term visitor to the U.S. and you want to return to Canada for a short stay. In that case if you stay less than 30 days, your absence will still be considered part of your U.S. monthly quota; if more than 30 days it will not. But that won’t apply to you as you have access to the U.S. whenever you wish. What you need to be watchful for, however, is not to overstay your out-of-province allotment so that you lose your provincial health benefits.

      Milan

      • Hi Milan,
        Thank you so much for that information. That was my understanding but wanted to verify it.

        • Hi Milan,
          what is the process for a U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport, living in Canada since 1970, to obtain a Canadian passport? Are you able to have both passports? If so, where do you find the information to obtain a Canadian passport and how long does take to get one?

          Thank you

          • Nikki:
            Are you a Canadian citizen? If not, you won’t get a Canadian passport. But if you are, you can apply at http://www.ppt.gc.ca. That’s the government site. There are also commercial sites and they can do it quicker, but they charge a lot more. The site will explain how long it takes. Yes, you can have two passports if you are a citizen of both countries (dual citizenship).

            Milan

  178. Hi Milan,
    I am thoroughly confused regarding driving an american plated car across the Canadian border.I recently retired and all of my adult children and grandchildren live in the US and are ALL american citizens.. I bought a second car in the US to use while down there and to get me back and forth since I felt my Canadian car was getting too old for the mountainous trip. I put the title in mine and my 32 y.o sons name He is American. I brought all the appropriate paperwork (title, ins etc) as well as a notarized statement from my son saying I had his permission to have the car and that I would be returning on Dec 16. I tried to cross the border into Canada and was detained supposedly because I cannot drive an american plated car across the border. When I questioned it and mentioned that I had investigated this thoroughly with my SB association he became hostile and told me they didn;t know anything.I know he is wrong because Canadian Snowbirds do this all the time without incident What did I do wrong?. I even have a Canadian car as well and had the documentation too prove that as well.
    Bottom line is that he allowed it but made it very clear this was a favour and filled out papers for when I return in December that force me to stop at the canadian border on my way back and prove I am returning the car to the US.He also told me I would NOT be able to return with the car. Please advise me how to do this correctly. I am trying to do it all above board and legally

    • Ginny:

      Unfortuntely for you, the Canadian border agent was correct. There are Canadian laws prohibiting Canadians from driving U.S. plated cars into Canada. It has to do with customs and taxation issues we can’t get into here. I don’t know of of many Canadian snowbirds who have U.S. plated and registered cars, but it they got through, and back, that was a favour done by the border agents. The fact you had signed permission from your son waiver doesn’t matter. It’s a matter of a tax that Ottawa wants. That is the root of the issue. If you are going to continue snowbirding, I suggest you get a Canadian car that can handle mountains–even if it is used–and travel in that. You don’t need the hassle.

      Milan

  179. Milan

    Your web site is the most informative site I have seen. Thank you. I wish I would have found it before I booked my trip. We have a home in the US for winter and I have tried to keep myself well under the 182 days. In an effort to help with this we were leaving for the US on Dec 10th and then I had booked a trip to Mexico from Dec 22nd through to Jan 19th. Wonderful news, that is only 29 days, I wish I had known about the 30 day limit before booking. We were doing this so we could stay a little longer in the USA and visit Canyon Country in Utah the first part of May when it would be a little warmer there. Any chance the good ole USA would consider 29 days as being out of their country?? I just don’t get it with them, we are retired and spending money down in their country and they want us out?? By us staying at our home for most of our six months year over year they are missing out on us traveling to other US destinations and spending money which if I am not mistaken is what their economy desperately needs???

    Any politicians ready this blog???

    Neil

    • Neil

      Why don’t you just extend your Mexico stay even if you have to pay an extra day? I hear comments like this often, and believe me the U.S. wants visitors especially Canadians. That’s why Canadians are allowed 182 days and virtually all other countries only 90. There have to be limits somewhere and you know the U.S. has a huge problem with undocumented people, and though you don’t fit the profile, it’s very hard to enforce the limits that do exist, especially when politicians are as manipulative as they are. Also, on the other hand, you must remember that your own province doesn’t allow you to be out of the province for more than a certain number of day without you risking loss of your provincial health insurance, so limits are things you have to live with. Besides, Canada is not a bad place to live in for six months.You’ve got the best of both worlds.

      Milan

  180. Hey Milan,

    First, thank you for the great site and taking the time to answer all of our questions.

    My situation is…

    I travel down to the US about every three weeks or so year round, usually for a day of shopping or maybe a weekend but rarely am out of the US for 30 consecutive days prior to re-entering. I have recently purchased a house in Phoenix where I plan on spending 3-4 months this winter.

    So basically, I’ll be down for … Jan- mid Mar (80 Days)
    And a few days each month thereafter (maybe 25 days total) – however I probably won’t be away from the US for more than 30 Days at any point.

    After hearing about the “30 day rule” I’m now concerned that this could be a problem for me next year. I’m looking for any clarification on the “30 day rule” regarding overnight/day trips.

    thank you,

    Paul

    • Paul

      First of all, there is no 30-day rule. Don’t let it worry you. The 30 days only applies to people who go to the U.S. to spend long periods of time, mostly snowbirds, and then want to return home for a short bit–maybe for Christmas. If they go back home and return to the U.S. within 30 days, those days will count as part of their total days in th4 U.S.–in effect, as one trip. If they stay in Canada for 30 days or longer and then return to the U.S.for the remainder of their winter vacation, it will count as two trips. There’s no rule that they have to be out of the U.S. for at least 30 days before they are allowed to return.

      I hope that clears it up. But I can guarantee somebody next week will be asking the same question.

      Milan

  181. Thanks for the great information Milan,

    I see that the point about showing more ties in Canada than in the US is an important one to be able to stay in the US up to 182 days per year without issues. Would it also work if I could show ties, but elsewhere than Canada? In my specific case, I would love to have a residence in Australia where I would spend about 3 months per year, one in Spain where I would also spend about 3 months per year and the remaining 6 months would be spent in the US, give or take, with only a few days or weeks spent in Canada.

    Given my financial situation, losing my medicare benefits wouldn’t be a big enough concern to make it a point to stay in Canada enough time to be eligible for it.

    My business, which I can run entirely remotely from the Internet, would still be based in Canada with Canadian bank accounts, at least until I can find a way to become a permanent US resident. The EB-5 visa is the one I’m slowly starting to look into for that, but this is a totally different subject.

    Finally, would getting a B-2 be a good idea to insure that I can actually spend the whole six months in the US and not being scared of being refused access by a border agent that feels that I have too much ties in the US? In other words, would a B-2 visa make the process less subjective to the border agent’s own judgement?

    Thanks so much in advance for your answer!

    • Sebastien

      It would take a whole seminar to deal with the issues you have outlined, but there is one fundamental fact you must consider before all else. It is only Canadian residents, with strong ties to Canada–that means physical ties that can be proven like residence, utilities, social connections etc.– who are allowed up to six months in the U.S. Europeans, Asians, etc. are allowed only 90 days. It is the physical nature of your Canadian residence that allows you the luxury of six months. It’s a special relationship between two friendly, bordering countries. What you describe would have you out of Canada virtually full time, and having just an internet connection in Canada as your only root to the country could well be an issue for any border agent.

      Milan

  182. Hi Milan:

    If we could afford to purchase medical insurance in the US what would be required to spend more than 6 months outside of Ontario in our home in Tucson? We don’t need to work so we wouldn’t require a green card. We ask because it’s probably more expensive to maintain a home in Ontario for 6 months of the year as well as our Tucson home than it would cost for US medical insurance.

    • Sylvia:

      If you are of retirement age you likely would NOT get health insurance in the U.S. U.S. domestic insurance for people over 65 is predicated on their having Medicare, to which you are not entitled.You might find limited insurance in the international expatriate travel market but that would cost a lot. Second point, whether you work or not, you would need a green card to live in the U.S. longer than 6 months and don’t even ask how you would go about doing that or how long it would take–not if you are already retired. Sorry. But that’s the way it is.

      Milan

  183. Hi Milan,

    Thanks for the fantastic info on your site!

    I am an Australian & USA dual citizen, and my spouse is a Canadian & USA dual citizen.
    I would like to apply for Canadian Residency & Canadian Citizenship.
    We would like to live in a motor home / RV full-time as traveling snow birds in North America for around 5 years and apply for Canadian citizenship when I become eligible (I think it’s after 3 yrs of residency status).

    Since we are USA citizens, we can work in the USA and stay there as long as we like, and we have to file USA tax returns each year no matter where we are. We’ll have a USA residential address in one of the states via the many mail servicing companies specifically designed for nomadic RV full-timers. The RV would be registered in that state & we would pay income taxes to that state. For the first few years I’ll probably work part time for a US company via telecommuting (which I currently do).

    We want to have Canadian Provincial Health Insurance, so we’ll stay in a single Canadian province for at least 183 days every 12months…and presumably return to that same province each year in order to avoid triggering a new waiting period each time. We’d have a Canadian residential address somewhere in that province. (we’d probably choose BC or Alberta). We’ll file Canadian & Provincial income tax returns each year, and claim credit for the taxes already paid to the USA.

    OK, so far so good. We can do all that…

    But how do we get the RV back & forth across the border twice a year without paying import duties every time?… (Does our USA status have any affect? Does it depend which passport we use when we enter?)

    Do you see any other issues with this plan?

    Many thanks for your great advice – it’s a wonderful resource….

    Jo

    • Jo:

      Do I see problems? Yes. It’s too complicated. You want to live in B.C. or Alberta for 183 days per year, but still have a permanent address in the U.S. and register your RV in the U.S. You will certainly have problems driving your U.S. registered RV into Canada if you claim Canadian residency. The bottom line is you can’t be a permanent resident of two countries at the same time. If your final intention is to become a Canadian citizen, then the fact your wife is already a Canadian citizen should help you get legal permanent residency and you can then qualify for provincial health insurance and still travel through the U.S. at will for almost six months. You don’t have to be a Canadian citizen for that–permanent residency is enough. You would then register your vehicle in Canada and not have a problem. Stop sitting on the fence: choose and simplify. As for taxes, you’re still going to keep on feeding Uncle Sam so long as you are a U.S. citizen, and he is voracious.

      Milan

  184. This is great information, thank you Milan.
    I have many friends and some relatives who live very close to the Canada/U.S. border near Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York. A lot of them go to the U.S. once every two weeks to buy groceries, etc. and only stay stateside for a few hours at most. I realize these 3 hour stays count as one day but since they are not back in Canada for 30 days before their next U.S. visit, are the 14 days between U.S. visits counted as days in the U.S.? If so, and I started going to N.F., N.Y. for groceries on January 13th, after 13 shopping visits, on July 12th, I will have reached 182 days in the U.S. and I would not be able to go back to the U.S. until the following January, is that right?

    • June:

      No. That 14 and 30 day limitation is only applied to people who go to the U.S. for long periods, like 4 or five months and then either go on a cruise from the U.S. or return home to Canada for a short trip, such as at Christmas. You guys are still free to go shopping with your strong Canadian dollars and buy up the stores, so long as you understand a day at Target is a day in the U.S. Fortunately that should not cramp your style when you hit the stores this coming Black Friday–where the cash registers are just waiting for you. And I can tell you, you are going to find some real bargains.

      Milan

      • thank you so much for all this information. My husband and I are planning to winter in Florida and you have helped us more than you know.

  185. Hello Milan,
    I have a question, My mohter is a canadian citicen and recently she went to central america to take care of her mom (who is dying of cancer) she left canada on July 2012 and planning to return to Canada maybe in January 2013 (the doctor’s gave my grandmother 6 months to live) but if necessary my Mom wnted to stay longer.
    Would she have any trouble entering back to Canada if she stays overseas more than 6 months?
    Thank you for your help
    Sandra

    • Sandra:

      If she’s a Canadian citizen she can come and go as she pleases, and stay as long as she likes. Her risk is that she may become ineligible for her provincial health care coverage which requires her to be physically present in her home province for a specified time–most provinces 183 days, Ontario 152, and Newfoundland four months. Since I don’t know which province she lives in I can’t be more specific.

      Milan

  186. We had stayed in the USA for 103 days in 2009, 139 days in 2010 and 131 days in 2011.

    We did the calculations for the 1/6 and 1/3 rule for the previous 2 years and added our 2011 days and found that our 3 years average of days in the USA was 194.50 days. This was 12.50 over the allowed 182 days for the 8840 form.

    We submitted a 8840 form to the US Government in early July 2012 and have not heard anything back from them. Should we be concerned?

    Thanks for any help.

    • Bob:

      No concern. The government does not respond to 8840s. They just file them.

      Milan

      • Thanks for that info..we were a few days over the filing deadline as we were not aware of the requirement to file an 8840. There could be a penalty for late filing but I explained in an attached letter that we didn’t know about this 8840 form. They must have accepted that??

        I have mentioned this requirement to file 8840 forms to other Snowbirds we know and they had no clue it exists.. Maybe it should be publicized a little more.

        • I hope this is the right process to ask a question. Thank you for the wealth of information. I am a professional in my fifties. My current contract ended earlier than expected. As a result, I changed my plans and will be leaving earlier to visit friends in the USA from December 10 to January 2nd. Also, I may decide to stay longer and enjoy skiing being I don’t have another contract just yet. Would that be an issue if I decide to change my return flight by let’s say one month once there? I visit my friends 3-4 times in a given year.

          Also, because of the many needs (ie. clothes for x-mas, new years and because we do lots of different sports when there) trhougout my say, I thought of sending a box ahead to avoid having so much luggage at the airport. Can this be an issue when crossing over?

          Many thanks!

          Diane

          • Diane:

            When you say your contract has ended, does that mean you are now out of work–or unemployed?
            Or do you have another contract specifically lined up which would require you to return? Border agents are suspicious of people entering the U.S. from Canada who don’t have permanent ties to Canada–especially if they are not sure they will be returning according to their plane ticket itinerary. It would be better if you had a plane ticket issued for your latest possible date of return–say in February or whatever, and then returned early. Also, be prepared to show documents that prove you have a permanent residence in Canada to which you will return: property tax or rental slips, phone bills, bank statement, car title, etc.

            As for sending packages ahead, that’s a new one on me. How big a package do you plan on sending? Try it and see what happens and then let me know.

            Milan

        • Bob:

          Thanks for the suggestion that the 8840 should be publicized more. We will do that. Have your friends tune in to us for the latest. And have a look at the Snowbird Plus program too as it has now started offering savings on insurance premiums. I don’t think the IRS will be bothered much by a slight late filing since from some Canadians they don’t get any 8840s at all. But all that could change with a tightening up of taxes here so it’s important to know about this rule.

          Milan

  187. Milan,
    I thank you very much for your help.
    My Mother leaves in Ontario.

    • Sandra:

      The story for Ontario is that your mother must be physically present in the province for five of the last 12 months. In most other provinces it is six months of the calendar year, but Ontario designates the past 12 months. But she might also get an extension if she asks for one from the health ministry. Extensions for special circumstances are sometimes granted once every five years. You might try that.

      Milan

  188. Hello, I’m a Canadian Citizen but going back and forth to UAE (Dubai) because my husband is working there. Last time I left Canada (British Columbia) was November 23rd 2011 and wasn’t in Canada since then. I’m going back to Canada (BC) on February 11th 2013 with my daughter, she’s also a Canadian Citizen. What problems can I be faced with a border agent? What about my medcare plan?
    Thank you in advance,
    Natalya

    • Natalya:

      You never know what what an immigration officert will say or think, but since you are both Canadian citizens and have passports to prove it you should be OK. As for your medicare, you have certainly overstayed your eligibility but if the health ministry is not aware of it you may still have coverage. If they are and have cut you off, you will have to stay in B.C. for three months to re-establish residency and become eligible. But they don’t always know.

      Milan

  189. Hi thanks for all this info it is so helpful for us that do not understand the rules as much.. my question is I live in Lethbridge Alberta and I have a lot of family in california I like to go often to visit them and shop but I only go twice a year for 2 weeks each time is that ok or do I need to change things?
    thank you in advance/

    • Linda:

      If all you do is go twice each year for two weeks each, you have plenty of visits available to you.
      You are allowed a total of six months a year. Just make sure that when you shop you understand the new Canadian customs rules that have increased the amounts you are allowed to bring into the country.

      Milan

  190. Hi, Great site.
    We go to Arizona for the winters. We live in BC and are both Canadian citizens.This year (2012) we crossed over the border on Oct. 22 /2012.We plan on crossing back into BC on March 31/2013. in 2013 we are also planning a trip to England and Europe leaving May 24th/2013 and returning June 27/2013.We also want to come back to Arizona again for the winter of 2013. My question is does the trip to England and Europe count as part of our 183 days out of Canada, and is it 183 days per year starting January 1st to December 31st of any year?(meaning our days down here in 2012 , will not count as days total in 2013) Hope I explained this to you properly so you can answer my question.
    Thank you in advance.
    Jan

    • Jan:

      Your trip to Europe and England counts as time spent out of your province and according to the schedule you propose it appears as if you will not exceed the 183 days in 2013 if you don’t go back to Arizona too soon for next winter. Do the math for 2013: three months January through March, one additional month in Europe, that leaves you two months at the end of the year for Arizona. Don’t go back too early. In B.C. the 183 days you are required to be present in the province is counted on a calendar year basis–from Jan 1 thorugh December 31. In some other provinces it differs. And the calculation is made not on when you are out of Canada, but when you are out of your home province, so be careful about travfelling any place else.

      Milan

  191. Hi Milan,

    Thank you for such an informative site.

    I travel for a living and am always I’m tour, I live in Vancouver but don’t pay rent, I do work for a Canadian company and have bank accounts, however I’m never there, I’m always on the road. I didn’t realize the 6 month allotment was not consecutive. I’ve been in USA the following dates

    This passport shows 2012:

    USA arrivals
    Feb 5
    Mar 7
    Mar 18
    Apr 23
    Jun 27
    Jul 6
    Jul 30
    Nov 19

    In addition to this I’ve been to:
    Brasilia April 19
    Bahamas jul 1
    Mexico feb 2
    London jun 23
    Bar echelons jun 6
    Zurich jun23
    Spain jun 27
    London jun 27
    London aug 18
    Barcelona aug 10
    Nice jul 22
    London jun 15
    Spain jun 25
    Japan nov 1
    Australia nov 9
    Thailand nov 15

    On nov 19 I was pulled into secondary and questioned. I travel thru us cause I have friends or for shows, events. Not work and I’m always travelling to other countries from there cause its cheaper. My last year has basically been on the road, I get free hotels from my job and have an inheritance that helps support me. I do get paid monthly from my company as well.

    So nov 19 they let me in after secondary. I told them that I am going to be flying from lax to london on dec 1 and asked if would have problems getting back in as my flight goes thru Vegas for a friends party, they said maybe.

    I am in london now and fly to Vegas for a bday and music show and boxing match then have a return ticket back to Vancouver. Will I be okay? I’m so scared. I would lose my job if up I wasn’t allowed to go in and out of the states since our flights are most cost effective and I manage the area.

    Do you think they will see I have been in USA o Eric 180 days? I’ve been to Canada twice but it does not show stamp? Will they let me in? I’m terrified as I have to be there for this event and don’t want any trouble …. Really scared …appreciate your help

    • Selena:

      If you travel “on tour” it means you are working or earning money in these foreign countries. Otherwise, what does “on tour” mean? Since you appear to have no permanent residence, you can expect to find many problems crossing into the U.S. The 182 day limit applies to B 1/2 visa tourist visitors. You’re not a tourist. If you’re a Canadian citizen and have a Canadian passport you should be able to return to Canada at any time. But that’s not going to help you getting into the U.S.

      Milan

  192. Hi Milan,

    What a great page, and thanks for taking the time to answer all these varied questions.

    I am a Canadian citizen, but have been living in the US for 11 years now, 5 years under an F1 visa and 6 under a G4 work visa. Nevertheless, my contract ends this year, and so far I have no job offers (yet I hope). I do wish to travel for Christmas for 1 month not to Canada, but to another country – but that would mean leaving the US. My problem is that I do have an apartment, furniture, phone, utilities…. etc. All my stuff is here (US). My mom does live in Canada, and her address is my permanent residence, but I do not own/lease the place.

    I am fearful that coming back without a work visa would pose a problem, as I do need to re-enter the country. Financially I do have bank accounts in the US that would prove I can live with my own means ($140K). Nevertheless, reading the previous posts, it is clear that I have been living here for 11 years now… Do you believe there is a high risk that immigration denies me entry? I thought of purchasing a US-Canada ticket leaving 6 months after my arrival to the US on Jan 15th, 2013 would help? I have my family in Canada, but no kids, husband, job, or owned/leased place.

    Your thoughts are priceless!

    • Maria:

      You should first contact the State Department or the U.S. Customs and Imigration Service to see about extending your G4, which is a visa issued to workers for international organizations, but if your contract is ending, then so might your G4. If you leave the country before it expires, you will be in compliance, but if you leave after and try to re-enter without some sort of visa clearance you may be denied. If you go to a third country at Christmas and your G4 runs out, you should expect that possibility. If you have a home in Canada and you establish residency then you might be able to visit but you do need to establish residency first. A border agent would have every reason for denying you entry if he found you had no history of living in Canada, no permanent home, no connections to Canada. It’s not enough that your mother is a resident of Canada: you’re not, even though you are a Canadian citizen. And what the border agent is looking for is if you are planning to return. The fact you have a good amount of money in the U.S. is no buy-in.

      Milan

      • Thanks for your reply.

        Yes, the G4 visa does expire along my contract. Rules indicate that I have 60 days after the end of my contract to leave. I plan to leave on vacation within that time frame, and was planning to return as a tourist (without any kind of actual visa, just as a Canadian entering the USA), not as a G4 because that would have expired.

        I was wondering if they would give me a hard time at re-entry, mainly because of all my stuff!

  193. Hi Milan,

    My wife’s parents retired this past summer and they sold their home. They purchased an RV and plan to spend 5 months out of every year travleing in the US. They had all their mail along with their drivers licenses/health cards/passports etc changed over to our Ontario home address. Is there anything we need to be concerned about since they don’t actually live with us? Do you know if there is any income tax implications that we need to be worried about? When they come back to Canada for the summer months they plan to live out of the RV at an RV park.

    • Mike:

      The best thing they can do would be to file an 8840 IRS form which establishes their closer connection to Canada, and they should file it every year. The fact their address on their passdports and driver licences don’t match their actual residence may be problematic, but if they can list the RV park in which they will be staying on return, and if they can also set up a secondary mailbox at that point that may be enough to satisfy a U.S. border agent that they plan on returning to Canada. What the agent is most concerned about is that your parents don’t intend to spend more time in the U.S. under the radar and that they are Canadians, with firm roots in Canada and will return. That’s what the 8840 will help establish. Also, when approaching the U.S. border they should have other documentation that they have roots in Canada–income tax return, bank statements, a letter that they are members of a church or social or community organization such as Kiwanis or Rotary, maybe a letter from a bank manager that they have been customers of the bank for many years, etc. Also, so long as they don’t earn any money in the U.S. and they file their 8840 IRS form to that effect, there should be no income tax obligations to the U.S.

      Milan

      • Thanks Milan much appreciated. So is it fair to say that there no real risk to us having their mail/cards/documents listed under our address? I just want to make sure there is no potential legal issues since they do not actually live with us.

        • Mike:

          You’re not talking about a legal issue. You’re talking about what looks reasonable to a border agent who has the power to allow an alien into the country or keep one out. What I suggested to you was that the fact your parents address on their passport and drivers licences is your own address and not theirs may be problematic, but if they have the documentation I described, such as a copy of a 8840, they may be OK. There is no hard and fast rule as to what the border agent accepts as certainty that the traveller plans to return to Canada. And I cannot say with certainty that even if they have all of the documentation they will be allowed. No one can, except that border agent, looking into their eyes. But their chances are far improved if they are properly prepared, and the fact they live in a RV seasonally in Canada should not deter them from entering the U.S. Many senior Canadians do.

          Milan

  194. Hi Milan,
    Thanks for the info.
    Do the provincial health coverage rules apply the same for Canadians working under NAFTA in the US? If I was out of the country for a NAFTA contract I’d have to wait 2 or 3 months for OHIP to resume when returning to Ontario?
    For the purposes of income tax, under NAFTA, is it better to relinquish the Canadian residence and simply have a US residence?
    We also have the option of pursing self employment in the US. I’m a writer and my wife is a health practitioner. Can you point me to the rules and implications for that option, selling products or setting up a business?
    Sorry this is not too specific, we want to move to the US but are not sure the best way to do that. We are Canadian citizens, I also have a UK passport.
    thanks
    chris

    • Chris:

      No, the provincial medicare rules are different for NAFTA visas. But, you cannot simply pick up U.S. residence, even if you are prepared to pay taxes in the U.S. It’s not that easy. You can’t just set up shop as a self-employed writer in the U.S., neither can your wife work as a health care practitioner without first having a work visa (there are many kinds, so I can’t get into that much detail) and that means having a clear cut job contract. Without that, there’s no green card. You can get a preferential visa for setting up a business in the U.S., but that’s complicated and you need professional help to do it, because you are talking mega dollars and you must meet strict requirements as to how many people you will employ, what you will do, etc. all of which has to be approved by the immigration department. Right now, you need to focus on which route you intend to follow. You have outlined several. I suggest you sit down sit down and winnow out your options, first.

      Milan

  195. Thanks for all the info.
    I appologize if these questions have been asked already, but did not see it. For counting your 182 days in the US I was told that they count the day you enter the US but do not count the day that you enter back into Canada. Is this correct? Also that 2012 February has 29 days that you could spend 183 days in the US and 183 days in Canada without penalty from either the US or Canada. Is that also correct? Or would the US still say it was 183 days and do something about it? We are snowbirds. Also just found out about this 8840. We came in mid Oct of 2010 (we retired in Oct) for 6 months and again in mid Oct 2011 for six months and are also here again for 2012 from mid Oct to mid April as in previous years. We are planning on sending in the 8840 now that we know about it but will we in trouble for not sending in the last two years. Any and all help appreciated.
    Thanks Dahlia

    • Dahlia:

      Any day, or part of a day, you spend in the U.S. is counted as a day. But don’t get too hung up on the 182 days per se because the American rules talk about six months, and that can be even a couple of more than 182 days depending on which months you pick. Or if it includes February, it could be less.
      If you are a snowbird and you are in the U.S. from October 15 , they will let you stay until April 15. That’s usually the way they count it. Where the 182 day maxium comes in is where you take several shorter trips and they all add up to 182–or more. Play it safe. Don’t get greedy. Don’t cut corners, and consider 182 days (or parts of days) as the maximum you can be on U.S. soil and you won’t get into trouble.

      If you would have been reading these pages regularly you would have learned about the 8840 long ago.

      Milan

      • Just found this colum yesterday when looking for the 182 day question. Don’t know a lot Canadians down here. No one had told us about it. The people at the boarders never mentioned it. I don’t think everyone who snowbirds know about it. I asked a couple of couples if they knew yeaturday and they did not. I guess it is just not that well known.

        Dahlia

  196. I just discovered your blog, excellent information. I am a canadian citizen and easily pass the closer to canada connection test. I count my days very carefully and for the last few years have spent 170 to. 175 actual days in the USA. I spend from mid October to the end of April in the USA with trips out to Mexico, the carribean, etc as well as returning to canada a couple times. None of these trips are more 3 weeks. I also spend a couple weeks in the usa in the summer. If I understand you. correctly, I cannot deduct those out of USA days and therefore have been exceeding my 183 days by a week or two. I also have nexus. I was called into the “penalty Box” At the US border this October, the guard sent me in as he “suspected I was spending too much time on the USA”. A supervisor inside spent a great deal of time on the computer, I assume checking my comings and goings. I asked him his opinion on the whole time in the USA question. His answer was simple, it is calculated by the calendar year and you must spend more time in your home country than in the USA , six months maximum. I was allowed to enter .
    I have researched the 30 day rule as I am now deathly afraid of having to spend my future winters in Canada.
    One thing I have read is that since Canadians are not required to have a “written visa” they may be exempt from the 30 day rule. What do you think?

    • Jim:

      You seem to have it right except for one small thing–the time you are allowed in the U.S. is 182–not 183, but I don’t imagine any agent will chastize you for one extra day. The information the supervisor gave you also seems to be correct and simple: more time in Canada than the US, and, I might add, make sure you always have more “roots” in Canada than the U.S. You can make sure of that by filing your 8840 each year which proves your closer connection to Canada. You are also correct in saying that you do not need a written visa when entering the U.S. as you are “deemed” to be entering on a B visa for visitors–paperless. Obviously, the agents know what you’re doing even without the paper–a good lesson for other cross border visitors..

      Milan

  197. Ontarian’s can be outside Canada for 212 days in any 365 day period, which is about seven months of each year. This is depressing for retirees who built retirement homes in other countries. You must sit in Canada and vegetate for five months of each year.

    • John:

      I disagree with you. Canada is too vibrant and beautiful a country to consider living in it “vegetating.” I am sure there are millions of people in this world who love to “vegetate,” this way.

      Milan

  198. Hi Milan…
    I can see you are helpful so I am hoping you can answer my question too.
    Me,my wife and a child (4 years old) would like to stay in Europe for a year. We are all Canadian citizens.
    In the year child’s passport is going to expire so would we be able to renew the passport in Canadian Ambassy in Europe?
    Thank you

    • Danny:

      If you are going to be out of the country for one year you will likely lose your provincial health care benefits so make sure you are covered by a private plan. If your are a dual citizen of another country that won’t necesssarily give you health coverage. So check it out. Also, if you know your child’s passport is going to run out, renew it now. Renewing it from out of the country may take a very long time and you may even run into problems entering your destination country because they want to make sure passports are valid for the length of your stay.

      Milan

  199. my daughter is married to a US citizen and has approval for a green card. She has been working in the US for 2 years. She has been storing furniture and personal effects in Ontario. She is now establishing a residence in Florida and needs her items. We are hoping to have them transported by U haul driven by her uncle who s concerned with what is required by the border crossing in order to cross legally with this stuff. W will provide him with copies of her driver’s licence, green card and documents from Homeland Security showing her status. We also plan on providing a letter of authority to transort the items as well as a list of contents. All of the contents are over 5 years old and not new.
    What do we need to have to mke this trip. Thank you.

    • Sharon:

      You say you have been approved for a green card. That’s not the same as having one, especially as you are moving in with a bunch of stuff. You need to ask the consulate in your home city for something more definitive like an I-94 visa or proof that you have been approved.

      Milan

  200. Hi,

    Do we need an international driver’s licence when you stay in Florida…..
    We were told that Florida passed a law in 2012 (law 322)

  201. Hi Milan

    Just got some information that as of Jan 1,2013 Canadians driving in Florida require International Drivers Licences. Our CAA offices apparently supply them and the picture for the Licence at a cost of $ 35.00 and are valid for one year.

    I hope the Florida Legislature reconsiders this requirement of Canadians in Florida.

    • Bob:

      There is a new law that “requires” all foreigners, including Canadians, to get an international drivers license in addition to their own but don’t get too worried. It really was a screw up that legislators often promulgate when they don’t think too much, which is often. It was intended to cover non-English language licenses which are hard for most troopers to read. Even the tourism people didn’t see this one coming so they didn’t fight it. The law will be changed as soon as the legislature returns for its summer session and until then, most troopers and police officers have been told not to enforce the law for Canadians and others with legible English language licences. The CAA in Canada is consequently offering international licences for $25 and it’s up to you if believe its better to be safe than sorry. Frankly, if stopped, I would just plead ignorance.

      They won’t execute you.

      Milan

  202. Hi Milan.
    Great site.
    Have you heard anything about BC extending the time that people that live in BC can stay out of BC without loosing there medical coverage. We have heard rumors (from a few people) that they are going to extend it from 183 days to 190 days. We heard they were going to make an announcement this February sometime. Thought of you immediately I heard this, as I new if anyone would know it would be you.
    We are snowbirds and are going to Europe as well this Year (2013), so a few days will make a difference to us.
    Thank you in advance.
    Jan

    • Jan:

      By now, or very soon today, you will see the full story on this up on the website. BC has pending legislation which is expected to pass very soon to allow BC’ers an additional 30 days out of the country. This will be especially beneficial to people who want to spend six months in the U.S. (that is not changing) but want to travel our of the province or to another country for up to a month more.

      Milan

  203. Hi Milan
    I am a little confused about the US visitor visa.
    Can you come back and forth or the total per year is it 6 months.
    With my health insuranve all I have to do is come back over night??

    • Garry:

      The total per year is six months–in one long stretch or a bunch or shorter trips. As for your health care, that is a provincial situation that has nothing to do with U.S. law, and depending in which province you live, you must be there physically for a given number of months. Since I don’t know in which proivince you live, I can’t be more specific. It’s not just a matter of crossing the border for a day. These are rwo separate sets of laws.

      Milan

  204. I am working in US with TN visa. My mom is 77 years old. She is a canadian citizen. She wants to stay with me in the US. Is there a visa that I can apply for her?

    Thank you

    • Louis:

      There is a family preference visa, but like everything else, it takes a long time. But try to make your case through your local consulate.

      Milan

  205. OK , my Fiance visited in the US for 4months in 2012 and two months in 2013 consecutivly for 183 days.
    She has returned to Toronto, CA.

    Question; How long will she be rquired to live in CA before returning to the US ?

    Thank you all……………

    • Steve:

      Some border agents count the 183 days strictly in a calendar year, others on a past 12 months basis. If she goes back too soon, especially to see a boyfriend the border agent may suspect that she intends to stay and get married, or live-in or whatever and that they frown on without proper authorization. I would suggest she wait at least till early summer and then have plenty of documentation that she has a home in Canada, has roots there, is intending to go back. It makes for a cumbersome boyfriend-girlfriend relationship but so much depends on what the border agent perceives as her intentions. One side question: does she have a job in Canada to which she must return? If not, that will raise a warning signal.

      Milan

      • Milan,

        Would you explain which border agents in the reply (US or CA).

        I have also petitioned for a K1 Visa and still waiting for the Fiance interview.
        We thought it would all be settled by now but not so.
        She left her job in CA last Sept but now will stay at her parents in Toronto until further notice.

        Thank you……..

        • Steve:

          I was referrring to U.S. border agents. K1 or non-imigrant visas for a fiance averge about eight months, but dealing with the U.S. bureaucracy these days makes it a toss up. Who knows? But the fact you have filed indicates that your fiance does have ultimate plans to move to the U.S. and a U.S. border agent might consider a visit now, a premature move. He might think you are trying to short circuit the system and that could be fatal. Also, you are aware that once she arrives in the U.S. with K1 visa in hand you have 90 days to get married. I don’t know when you filed your application so I don’t know if this case is unusually long or not, but once she goes for her medical and interview she could get permission right away.

          I would suggest an impromptu visit by her to you before you get the visa a risky thing to try as it may jeopardize the whole process. When dealing with the U.S. government, patience is not only a virtue, it is a necessity. You can still visit Canada though, with no restrictions.

          Milan

  206. Hi Milan.
    Thanks for all the info on your site about BC extending the amount of time (by 30 days) out of the country/province.
    Do you now when this will get passed? and also will it come in effect for this year(2013) or will it start for next year?
    Thanks in advance.
    Jan

    • Jan.

      No, I don’t know when this will get passed but I suspect it will be soon considering the government has already put out a press release on it.. In the meantime., I don’t imagine the bureaucrats will have put a very high priority on invesigating those who overstay, knowing the law is going to be changed. But just be careful, this does not mean you have more time to spend in the U.S. than six months. That is a U.S. law and that has not changed. Don’t confuse the two.

      Milan

      • Thanks Milan.
        We are snowbirds and do go down south.. This year 2013 (from Jan. to Dec)our total stay in the US will be 165 days. We were planning on going to Europe as well this year for 35 days, but we would have been over our 183 days.But now it sounds like we can go ahead and book our trip to Europe. Our total time out of BC will be 200 days for 2013. Am I figuring this all out correct?
        Thanks again.
        Jan

  207. Hi Milan

    Information please. I am Canadian wanting to take a cruise out of the USA and returning to Canada. Do those days on the cruise ship count as days in the USA? Notwithstanding, If the cruise ship was embarking from a US Port and returning to a US Port, do those days on the cruise ship count towards the number of days you are allowed to stay in the US?

    Thank You!!

    Mike

  208. Wants to know how long ca a canadian retiree stay max in the philippines w/o jeopardizing his medical and pension benefits

    • Lita:

      His pension benefits follow him wherevcer he goes. No limit. His provincial health care depends on which province he resides in. They have different rules.

      Milan

  209. Hi Milan,
    We live in BC eight miles from the US border and often go into the Sates for gas and visiting family in Seattle. What constitutes a “day” out of the country? Does every entry into the US (even if the stay is 30 minutes) count as a “day” of your 183 allowable days? Thanks for helping out.
    Mike

  210. Hi Milan,

    I am an Alberta Canadian, and I have been in the states for a part of 2012 and 2013…. Does that whole calendar year thing apply….meaning…my time in 2012 is not applicable to my time spent in the US in 2013 ..it cancels it out?

    • Shanon:

      It is applicable. If you have been in the U.S. more than 182 days in the past calendar year or the past 12 months you are at risk. An agent can look at your past 12 months and if you have not been in Alberta for more than a few days can assume you do not have a closer connection to Canada, a job, a residence, etc ad bar you from another entry for several years. The 182 days is a generous rule. Most other countries are only alllowed 90.

      Milan

  211. Hi Milan

    I am from Alberta

    I came down to California on November 5th 2012 planning to stay til April 2013.

    I returned to Canada in February for 25 days for family emergency.

    Am I able to stay longer now.

    Tks
    Laine

    • Laine

      Before you try, what explanation would you have for staying so long and then returning? You have already used up your six months in the past year. How can you claim that you spend more time in Canada than the the U.S.? Do you have a closer connection to Canada and can you prove it? This is not just a matter of days–it’s a matter of your intentions. The border agent must be convinced you intend to return to Canada and you have a permenent home there. That’s what you need to keep in mind.

      Milan

  212. Hi there
    How does a province know how long you have been out of the country when it comes to health care.
    When you leave Canada you pass through US customs. When you enter Canada you pass through Canadian customs. Do they share information?

    • Michael:

      The truth is they often don’t. They are sometimes tipped off by neighbours or “friends.” Or if they have a medical claim, the provincial agency has proof you were out. Then if they operate on a tip, they can usually pin you down if they want to investigate you. That part is not hard. Everybody leaves a big paper trail behind them–credit cards, hotel bills, post office reroutes, etc. As for these agencies sharing information: yes they do. Computers make that so easy.

      Milan

      • Thanks Milan…..So in other words if the Canadian and US agencies don’t investigate me…..the US agency has no idea when I returned to Canada and the Canadian has no idea when I left. Swiping my Passport at either side doesn’t instantly let the other know when I left.

        • Don’t confuse the healthcare ministries with the border agencies. The border people do often share information. Just because the healthcare ministry does not investigate you–which it might if it gets a tip–the folks at the border are quite different and they have many ways to keep track of how many days you have spent in the U.S. Do they share information? They sure do.

          Milan

          • Ok Milan…..You have answered my question/s
            Many thanks

          • I understand about the 183 days, can that be split into two segments.

            Is there a minimum time one must be in Canada, ie over 31 days before one could return to the US for a second trip.?

          • Don:

            You can split up the 182 (note–not 183) days any way you like. There is no limit on how long you must stay in Canada between visits.

            Milan

  213. hi…i was wondering what happens if i go to europe or brazil australia etc for 1 yr..i live in ontario..im planning on retiring this dec…when i come back do i have to wait 3 months for me to get the health care back..right?……what if i leave june to dec 2014 …then leave again jan.2015 ..for 4 months is it per calendar year..or say june to june…thxs

    • Nellie:

      You can apply once every five years to stay out up to a year. But you have to apply. If you don’t apply for a special dispensation, you are allowed to stay out of Ontario for up to seven months in the last 12 months (not a calendar year).

      Milan

  214. Does Business count towards your 6 months/year.
    i was told that if you go to the us for business meeting, they do not count as pleasure days,it is only pleasure days that are counted. can you shed some light on this issue.

    Thank you.

    • Malik:

      That’s a grey area because many people go out on business meetings of three or four days and they are not designated as such. If you are travelling on a business or NAFTA visa you are allowed much more. Also, if you go on business you will need a special visa. Usually people don’t designate a short two or three day seminar in which case it will count as part of the 182 days.

      Milan

  215. Hi,

    I receive CPP, OAS and Alberta Health Care. I will soon be 70 years old. I am a resident of Alberta. I work part time in Canada and in Cuba three or four times a year on a Cuban work visa for a week or two at a time. I also travel to the Carribean as often as I can (Arthritis).
    My questions are:
    1.- Do these “work” trips to Cuba count for the six month rule? (Flights are direct to Cuba; no USA stops)
    2.- I’m confused about the six month rule; is it an absence from Alberta of no more than 182 days in a calendar year?, Is it an absence of not more than 182 days at a time (can leave Canada again in a couple of weeks for another 182 days)?
    3.- Could I, for instance, leave Canada on October 1, 2013 and be back before April 1, 2014 and I would have only used half my absence time for each year.
    4.- What effect would my overextending these stays (through no fault of my own) on my CPP and OAS?
    These rules are all pretty confusing. Is there any leterature from Services Canada which “CLEARLY” sets this out?
    Thanks very much.

    • Terry:

      A work visa and a tourism visa are not the same thing, neither are the rules. But it seems nobody has caught on. It seems you are not telling the customs agents on your return that you have been working in Cuba, which could be problematic if they catch on.

      About the six month out-of-province rule I don’t know why you should be confused, we write about it often enough. Here it is: you are allowed to be out of Alberta for up to 182 days in a calendar year–that is from January 1 to December 31, and that can be in one stretch or several shorter trips. These absences also have no effect on your OAS or CPP, to which you are entitled no matter where you are or how long you have been out of the country–so long as you qualified in the first place.

      Milan

      • Thanks Milan. I don’t know if I’m hard headed or just don’t speak legaleze. After all, I am an engineer and used to “CLARITY”. Thanks again. Are you sure that absences of more than six months have no effect on CPP or OAS?

        Terry

        • Terry.

          Yes. No matter where you go or for how long, so long as you qualify in the first place, you get your CPP and your OAS. Clear enough?

          Milan

  216. After reading all this, I’m beginning to feel a little dense! Please clarify:

    The 182 (not 183!) days allowed out of the province (in my case, BC) is NOT per calendar year? For example, THIS year (2013), we left home Jan. 10th, returning on March 25th. NEXT year, our plan is to leave Dec. 1st, and return approximately the same date. Does our 182 days begin counting Dec. 1st & continue right to March, or does the clock stop ticking Dec. 31, and resume Jan. 1st for the next calendar year?

    I also gather BC is extending our away time by 30 additional days. Do you know when that will take effect?

    And my final question: BC’ers who travel out-of-province for 182 + days may have their homeowners’ grants affected, or so the rumour goes. I am aware my medical may be compromised by travel longer than 6 months, but my grant also? Do you know anything about that?

    I appreciate your help, and apologize for putting you in a position of having to repeat yourself (again & again!). ;-)

    • Kelly:

      It’s not difficult. Each province has its own rules. In B.C., the provincial health plan requires you to be physically present in the province for 182 days in a calendar year-that is between January 1 and December 31. And Yes, your legislature will soon change the rules to allow you to stay out of the for seven instead of six months. Since there is little opposition to that rule change it will likely happen quite soon, but I can’t tell you when. Stay glued to your TV or newspaper. And as soon as we get the news we will pass it on. However, unless some thinking has changed it is still likely to be per calendar year. In Ontario, for example, the out of country allowance is already 7 months, but that is per the previous 12 months, and not per calendar year.
      That’s what makes it so confusing.

      Milan

      • Thank you very much, Milan. I also clarified my homeowners’ grant information thru the BC H.O.G. website. So we are good to go! ;-)

  217. I was wondering how many days you are allowed in the USA. I live in Ontario and make frequent daily trips to the USA for 2-3 Hrs and back home. Are these included in the 182 day yearly total.

    Thanks

  218. My son works/lives in the US. He files income taxes in Canada as well as the US and has been deemed a resident of Ontario by CRA. He pays to CRA an amount of $300 for OHIP when he files his Canadian Income Tax. question is when he returns to Canada on a visit can he still visit his doctor or is there a waiting period? does he have the same coverage as he had when he lived/worked in Canada?

    • Janet:

      If your son lives in the U.S. he is not eligible for provincial health care. It’s not a matter of where he pays his taxes but where he lives.

      Milan

  219. hi , I live in BC. If your re out of canada for more 6 months, what is the process to get your bc medical back?
    thanks Dan

    • Dan:

      You notify the MSP that you are back. You will wait three months (during which you should get interim private health coverage–our advertisers can provide) and you should be back on the rolls at that time. But you must stay in the province consistently during that time and have proof that you have stayed. You can’t just “check in” and go off travelling again. They want your feet on B.C. soil.

      Milan

  220. My 86-years old ailing sister makes me consider that I have to go back to see her again. I’m in my 70s. Last time I had to visit her, I left in the middle of Sept and came back to Canada on late January/13: total time away: four and half months.. In the ( unfortunate) case that sister is going to be in the last breath of her life, if I need ( hopefully not…) to leave again soon, it means that I might be leaving before having stayed here ( BC) for six months straight. I’m kind of confused about it all….Would you explain please?

    • Manuel:

      You’re fine. You are allowed six months out of B.C. each year (soon it will be 7) and there is no requirement that you must be back at home for six months straight before you visit the U.S. again–so long as you don’t exceed the yearly limit

      Milan

  221. My sister lives in Spain not in the Startes but, according to your so kind ( and prompt) reply to my inquiry; it is understandable that the rules are the same, either if one goes to the United States , or Spain. Much thanks for your kind help, Milan.

    • Manuel:

      The rules are not the same. Unless she has a visa, she is allowed only 90 days in Spain. It is only the U.S. that allows Canadians (and only Canadians) 182 days. The rules for out of country allowance for provincial health care are the same. I don’t know which province your sister normally resides in, but she is still required to be physically present in her home province for the given number of days in order to be eligible for medicare. Tell me what province, and I’ll tell you the number of days.

      Milan

      • I came back to your informative website, Milan, to let you know that my sister is a Spanish citizen who never ever left Spain. I’m the one visiting her every year. Just to clarify that, and to give you thanks for your hearty-practical guidance through the bureaucratic maze…

        • Manuel:

          If I had a sister in Spain I would visit her each year too, but for no longer than 90 days at time

          Milan

          • Hola Milan

            I’m reading in the news that in a few months a bill is going to be passed allowing “snowbirds” to be away from Canada up to seven or eight months.

            I’m a senior but not a “snowbird” in the sense that I don’t go to Florida I go away, yes – to Spain, , to visit my dear elderly sister. If that bill is passed may I stay seven or eight months away? Or is only valid for those who go to the United States? Much thanks for your reply, Milan..

          • Manuel:

            B.C. will soon pass a bill to allow you to be out of the province for up to seven months–no matter where you go.
            In Ontario you can already go for seven months.

            Milan

  222. Hello Milan, Hopefully you can help me out. If time of 3 separate trips to the us from Canada started in Nov 6 2011 3 days July-Oct1-.2012(3mths) nov 6 /2012 6 days. Jan 3- Feb 15/2013 1 !/2 mths-Feb 20- return. How much time would be left? Would the time start from Nov 6 2011 and go to calenderer year of Nov 12 and the calendar year start again Nov 12/2012 to Nov 12.2013? Thank you so much.

    • Joanne:

      First of all, I do not like doing math, so do your own counting. But here is the rule: you can spend 182 days in the calendar year or in the past 12 months and you can do it in a total of little pieces or one long stretch. The key is that the U.S. border agent must be convinced you are spending more time in Canada than in the U.S. and that you have a closer connection to Canada than the U.S. So if you go to the U.S. for the last six months of 2013, go back home to Canada for six days and plan on returning to the U.S. for another six months he will likely deduce that you don’t really live in Canada full time and are trying to live in the U.S. full time and that is when you get into a heap of trouble.

      Milan

  223. Thank-you Milan,
    Sorry about the math part. It was not my intention for you to count the days up. I was trying to show that starting Nov 2011/ Nov 2012 and Nov 2012/ 2013 are the dates my friend took as a calender year. She had no intention to live in the United States and the ties to Canada have been strong with her keeping her residence.in Canada. and certainly thinking she is was within her rightful stay. As of recent, (2013) she took the University tour and spoke with the International Student Office. She is in the midst of the paperwork including the I-20 application. I was looking for student medical insurance for University students(a mandatory requirement) and came upon your website,. I was very surprised to hear your answer!
    .Yesterday she called the University and they said they do not handle the area of time spent in the United States. She called the border and they said it depended on the border guard and he said it could go either way. Like I said I stumbled upon your website looking for medical insurance for her but now she is in a real tizzy. She has had no problem whatsoever going across the border in the past and has never stayed any longer then 3 months at a time. Could you suggest whom would be the best government agency to call? Thank-you so much for your time and again sorry for all that math.

    • Joanne:

      Calendar year means January 1 to Dec. 31. Is your friend thinking of going to university in the U.S? If so I can recommend some student programs in Canada that would cover her.

      Milan

      • Dear Milan,

        Thank-you for the information. This certificate course is not available in Canada. It is an extended program offered to International Students and offers an internship. She was told that she needed student medical insurance.

  224. Hello:
    From Ontario, We are travelling to Florida. The 182-183 days we are allowed to stay in United States. If we leave Nov 15/13 come home for 10 days in December 2013 and then go back till May 15/2014 would those 10 days be taken off of our 182 days?
    Also would we be able to take any day trips over to the states?
    When do the days start being counted Jan to Dec??

    Thanks looking forward to an answer.
    Jane

    • Jane:

      The 10 days back in Canada would count as part of your 182 days. But if you stayed in Canada 30 days or longer, they would not. And if you stayed up to or longer than 182 days from November to May you would not be able to take more day trips into the U.S.–not legally, anyway. Of course you might also bump into a nice border agent show wouldn’t make an issue of it and let you go, but that’s taking some risk.

      Milan

  225. I apologize for not had been more explicit in my last entry, Milan. My sister is a Spanish citizen who lives in Spain. I’m the one visiting her. What I meant in my last question to you, Milan, is that assume that the rules which need to be obeyed when one is out the country ( I live in BC) are the same, regardless if I go to Spain, or the United States. Right? Thanks again for you kind help.

    • Manuel:

      If you are referring to provincial health benefits, the rules are the same. Six months out of the province (the legislature in B.C. will soon make it seven.) If you are looking at how long you can stay in Spain–it is only 90 days without a visa. In the US it is 182 days.

      Milan

      • Hola Milan

        I do have dual citizenship. So I don’t need to think about that “three months stay…” Thanks anyway. My concern is to clarify the questions that I have written earlier on, today:

        There is an upcoming bill that will allow snowbirds to stay away seven or eight months, Milan. I’m not going to Florida. To Spain, yes. If that bill is passed it is valid for all the destinations, or only for the United States’ bound snowbirds?

  226. Hi Milan,
    According to what I read if you stay in US for more than about 122 days per year for more than 3 years you would fail the Substantial-Presence Test, and could have to pay US taxes. Is this something that is enforced and worth worrying about? How hard is it to get exempt from this? See link below.

    http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Substantial-Presence-Test

    • Dave:

      the 122 days is an oversimplification but if I try to simply it more I will only confused you more. The way to get around it is easy: File an 8840 form from the IRS. It has the formula for how long you can stay in order to be considered taxable, but it also allows you to prove you have a closer connection to Canada and therefore can file in Canada and not the U.S. So long as you do not earn money in the U.S. or work in the U.S. the 8840 will cover you. It’s the easiest way and it’s legal. In fact I recommend all snowbirds file one each year.

      Milan

  227. Regarding the “Substantial Presence Test”. It states, “You are considered a U.S. resident if you meet the substantial presence test for 2012. You meet this test if you were physically present in the United States for at least …” Then it talks about the formula of counting full days for current year, 1/3 of the days for the previous year and 1/6 the number of days for the year prior to that.

    If we are wintering in the U.S. but in the middle of our vacation we fly home for two weeks at Christmas, I understand that the two weeks in Canada is still included in our 182 days. But we are not “physically” present in the United States for those two weeks. Do you know where I can find information about having to be out of the U.S. for a minimum of 30 days so none of it is included in the 182 days?

    • Patches:

      That’s a very good question. But don’t lose sleep over it. The substantial presence test determines if you have been in the U.S. long enough over the previous three years to be taxable to the IRS. It sounds as if you have been, but that is not terminal. You complete and file an 8840 IRS form and you will be free to pay your taxes to Canada and not the U.S. That’s issue number 1.

      Number 2 is that if you go home for two weeks at Christmas it does count against your 182 days for purposes of the substantial presence test, but the border agent will be more interested in seeing that you intend to return home to Canada where you have your primary residence. He will be looking at one picture, the IRS at another. I wish I could point you to legislation or rules that clearly establish this, we are asked for this constantly but we have to rely on multiple sources of information, legislation, rules and regulations, and sometimes reality.

      I would love to have a clear, singular set of rules, but we are dealing with government after all. And governments are strong on clarity.

      Let us do the heavy lifting. You sound as if you are sticking to the rules as best you know and that is the most you can do.

      Milan

  228. Hi milan, me and my soon to be wife are planning on moving to Las vegas for six months starting at the beginning of september for work experience. We both work in the kitchen industry and that is not on the approved TN list. What are my other options to be able to work legally during the six month period?

    Thanks, Levi

  229. We travel to the US from Alberta and usually are never close to the 182 days. I have been told that if you leave your vehicle in the US like we do and fly home for a month, that month home is still included in the 182 days. If that is the case even though we are not physically in the US we are penalized for being there as our vehicle is still there. Is this a fact?

    • Jack:

      No. You have the 182 days , not your vehicle. But if you have registered or licensed your vehicle in the U.S. you will have problems with it coming back into Canada, and I don’t know how the border agent knows your vehicle has been in the U.S., but if he does know, it’s only reasonable for him to suspect that you were there too. From now on, carry proof of when you returned to Canada, perhaps by airline or passport stamp. That should satisfy him. But do not leave your car there permanently–that opens up whole range of other issues and potential problems.

      Milan

  230. Good day!!!

    I would like to ask how long can I stay here in manitoba before moving to Edmonton or any parts of canada?can I stay for good?is that possible?

    thank you

  231. and also is there any site that I can read about that matter??

    Thank you milan=)

    • Zomj:

      I don’t understand your question. Do you live in Manitoba? Are you a legal permanent resident of Canada? If so, you can move throughout Canada whenever and wherever you wish, but I don’t know enough about your situation.

      Milan

  232. I was of the understanding that one must spend at least 30 days out of the US before entering again(even for just a day trip) without having that period of time counted towards the 182 day limit. For example I came back to BC for some medical work in late February after being in the US since Jan. 10. I returned to the US after 13 days in BC. Does that 13 days out of the country count as part of my 182 days annually?

    • Mac:

      I wish somebody would kill this 30-day rumour. There is no such mandatory stay. The only thing that relates to 30 days is this: if you return to Canada during a prolonged stay in the U.S., and stay in Canada longer than 30 days that will be considered two separate trips when you return to the U.S. If you return to Canada for only 13 days, it will count as part of your 182 day allotment. But you still are only allowed no more than 182 days in total in a year.

      Milan

  233. Hello Milan, great forum.
    The question of length of stay in the United States (181 days) gets confused with the substantial presence test formula.
    As I understand it, the formula is used to determine if the 8840 form should be filed to prove a closer connection to Canada and not used to fill line 5 on the 8840 form. Some friends use the formula to fill line 5 and that does not seem right to me.
    Am I right on this or totally wrong?

    • Bert:

      I’m not sure I fully understand your question but I will take a shot at it.

      Line 5 simply asks how many days you have been in the U.S. over the previous 3 years and is used to determine if you are “taxable” in the eyes of the IRS. But the filing of the 8840 substantiates that you have a closer connection to Canada and will pay your taxes there, thus frees you from IRS claims. Thus you are still allowed to stay in the U.S. up to 182 days no matter what you filled in on line 5 .

      Milan

  234. I travel to the US from Ontario 2 to 3 times a week. Day trips, golfing and/or shopping (3 to 7 hours each time). Do these day trips count as 1 day towards the 212 days out of province?

    • Robert:

      You seem to be confusing the US immigration law which forbids you from staying in that country as a visitor longer than 182 days a year, and Ontario’s OHIP law which requires you to be present in the province for 212 days a year. If you go to the U.S. for just 3 to 7 hours per day a couple of times, OHIP can hardly keep track of your whereabouts and the fact is you are still physically present at home in Ontario for the rest of the day. If I were you I would wouldn’t worry about OHIP on your schedule, but I would be concerned about the time you are spending in the U.S. which counts even a part of one day (3 or 4 hours shopping) as one full day. Make sure you don’t overshoot that 182 day limit.

      Milan

  235. I recently have been going to the US for day trips several times a month we are a border town, plus a few weeks on holidays, with no 30 days between. Am I still considered to be in the US since last Sept. 2012. Would that be 7 months now although total days would only be a few month stay? Am I at risk?

    • Roberta:

      Read my other replies on this 30-day myth. Forget it. It doesn’t exist in your case.

      Milan

  236. I understand that US is considering increasing Ontario residents stay to 7 months is this true?

    • Mary:

      No. The U.S. does not deal with individual provinces. And there is nothing in the immigration pipeline with would allow such an extension. Make sure you are not confusing this with Ontario’s decision to allow its residents to stay out of the country for seven months without losing their medicare benefits–which it enacted several years ago.

      Milan

  237. If I drive down to Mazatlan Mexico from Alberta Canada ,stay for 4 weeks and fly back to Alberta Canada ,does all of the time I am gone count against the 183 days that I am allowed in the u.s.a. Because of the driving that is done in the u.s.a. ,To get to Mexico .
    Thanks

    • I all depends on how much time you spend in Mexico. If you are there longer than 30 days, that amount will not count against your U.S. allowance. If it is less, all the time will count against your U.S. allowance. You should get all your documentation in order–passport stamps, entry documents into and out of Mexico to show U.S. b order officials.

      Milan

  238. Milan…do you know anything about the IRS form 8840 and if so, would you advise any Canadians spending up to there limit of 182 days per calendar year in the US fill one out. If you do know a bit about this form I will have another question for you later.
    Thanks for all your advice so far.
    Michael

    • My wife and I are snowbirds and have one child living in the US. We spend about 160 days per year there. I have dual citizenship and pay taxes to Canada, but also complete US tax forms as required. My wife is a Canadian citizen. Are there any particular forms regarding our length of stay we need to complete and forward to the US?
      thank you

      • Steve:

        Unless you are working or making money in the U.S. there should be no reason for your to file any more forms–except for the 8840, the Closer Connection to Canada form.

        Milan

    • Michael

      If you spend any substantial time in the U.S. you should definitely fill in the 8840. It has a formula by which it determines if you are a taxable alien and if so, it proves you have a closer connection to Canada and releases you from the burden of paying taxes to the IRS. Definitely do it.

      Milan

  239. HELLO,
    WE HAVE A HOME IN ARIZONA AND A CONDO IN MEXICO, AND WE ARE ALBERTANS. WE WOULD LIKE TO BECOME NON-RESIDENTS OF CANADA, HOW DO WE DO THIS ? AND WHAT ARE THE TAX IMPLICATIONS ? ANY SPECIFIC WEBSITE GIVING GOOD DETAILED INFORMATION ?
    THANKS !

    • Mona:

      If you intend to leave Canada permanently there are definitely tax implications–the Canadian government will want a chunk of your assets. Don’t do this alone. Get an immigration lawyer.

      Milan

  240. Hi Milan,
    We have summer place in US and currently reside in Alberta and abide by the 182 day rule etc. You mentioned not leaving a car permanently in the US in a previous response as that opens up a whole other set of problems. Why is that??

    Thanks,
    Tammy

    • Tammy:

      It’s not a problem so long as your car is Canadian licensed and registered. Just don’t license it as a U.S. vehicle.
      Canadians are not allowed to drive a US car back into Canada.

      Milan

  241. I am American and my wife is Canadian. We live in Windsor, ON and as a border community make frequent trips across the border. We are planning on renting our home and buying a motor home to do some travelling part in Canada and part in the US. I have children, grandchildren and other family in the US. We plan on spending time with each of them and still travel back and forth to Canada to spend time with my wife’s family. I wasn’t planning on tracking how many total days we are out of Canada unless I must. OHIP is not really a concern for us. I would expect we would be 4 to 8 weeks out of Canada – 2 to 4 weeks back a time. Do you see any issues with this plan or any special considerations I should keep in mind? Do I need to make sure we don’t exceed 212 days in a 12 month period?

    Thanks

    • Fred

      So long as you stick to the old formula of no more than 182 days in the U.S. in the past year you’ll be fine. But you need get have good travel insurance. American hospitals can knock you flat in no time. If you’re thikining abouit long term insurance check with some of our advertisers. They can help you.

      Milan

  242. Well….. I should have looked at other logs here before my last note re the form 8840. Sorry!!
    I am a full time RV er and my home address …is the RV park where I live 6 months of the year while I work seasonally at a local golf course. This address I use with all my correspondence and I have my mail redirected
    while I am state side in the winter.
    Line 14 in the 8840 asks for my regular or principal home….and under instructions explains what a permanent home is. I don’t think my ” dwellings ” or living situation fits their ” instructions ”
    Please….what do suggest I reply to that.

    • Michael:

      It might fit their requirements, don’t give up hope. There are many Canadians who live in RV communities during the summer. Just have plenty of other documentation of your permanent residency in Canada to prove your closer connection to Canada–such as membership in a church, or rotary club; bank deposits, utility bills, grandchildren you visit, phone connections, emails, etc.

      Milan.

      • Thx Milan for both answers. Did you see the Globe today about the US possibly extending the time for Canadians staying state side from 6 months to 8 months. Have to be over 55 yrs and I think a couple more stipulations. Could be as soon as this summer.

        • Michael

          I wish I could be enthusiastic about these bills but I am too cynical about the U.S. Congress being able to pass anything. This is known as a private members bill–something that hardly ever gets out of committee. These same Congressmen tried a similar attempt a couple of years ago and failed. There is far too much going on in Congress to expect any better for this bill–especially as immigration reform of a different kind is hot on the burner. Stay tuned and we’ll let you know, but don’t hold your breath. A lot of this is sheer politics by guys who want to show their constituents they are trying to drum up business for them.

          Milan

  243. Hi Milan,

    I live in Manitoba, Canada and I’m not retired but leaving my job to go exploring. Just starting my research to decide which country I could go live in with at least 6 months without a work visa….I’m thinking many countries only allow three month access. Can you tell me of some warmer countries (in the winters) that allow access for up to 6 months without any paperwork? Without any papers such as a work visa, you can’t work there in pretty much everywhere without one right? If anybody has any good recommendations to low cost warm climate countries that are safe – please feel free to give me your thoughts and suggestions.

    Thanks!

    • Tanya:

      Working in almost any country without a visa is prohibited. In the U.S. it certainly is, and in most countries of Europe you are allowed to visit for up to 90 days without a visa but not to work. To work you need a visa. Unless you are thinking of Asia you might try the consulates of Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, North Africa and South America, which has its summer when Manitoba as its winter. You might also try the Caribbean countries which like to have some North Americans to help with their North American tourists.

      Milan

  244. Hi Milan,

    I would like to know how to calculate the number of days spent in the US. If I was to travel to the US from May21 to May 26, would it be correct to say that I would be in the US for 5 days or 6 days?

    Thanks so much!
    Val

  245. Hi there, im sure you’ve answered these questions a thousand times, I am really sorry I have so many. I have been searching for days and days, researching everywhere and everything and i cant get a consistent answer, either that or i don’t understand the information. I came upon this website and i could tell there was some valuable information on here that i wasn’t getting anywhere else, so you are my only hope!

    I live in BC and I am visiting my boyfriend who lives in NC for approx 6 months. I am on disability (PWD). Do you know how long i can stay there without my benefits being compromised?

    Its a tough situation because i would like to stay out there for as long as possible, because his dad is ill and i would love to be with my bf as his father doesn’t seem to be doing so well.

    So if I wanted to stay longer I would need some sort of visa right? (this would depend on how long i can stay out of the country before my benefits would cut off)

    A visitors visa perhaps?

    If so, how long does a visitors visa last for?

    Another question sorry!

    Do i need a visitor visa to apply for an extended stay? or could i just apply for one without a visa?

    Sorry more questions!

    Do i need to tell the people who deal with my PWD that i am leaving for 6 months? (sorry i forgot what you call them).

    One more question that I keep hearing different answers from. If i go to the US for 6 months, how long would I have to wait to go back to the US once I arrive back in Canada? I heard you have to stay back in Canada for at least 6 months, and I also heard its 30 days, and I even heard you could go back the very next day! Which seems strange to me. Just wanted to clarify that.

    The plan is to go to the US for 6 months and then come back to Canada for 6 months, and then go back out there for 6 months and so on, until his dad passes away (i know sounds terrible).

    I guess there’s no way around all of this without losing my benefits if i decide to stay longer? and like i said, if i decide to do that, i think i would have to apply for some sort of visa, i think right?

    In a perfect world, i would stay there with my bf until his dad passes and during that time we would save money for us to come back to Canada, which i know he has to go through a lot of immigration stuff, which is a whole new series of questions i wont bother you with, lol.

    Sorry for the rambling and talking in circles, it helped me put things in perspective and i appreciate you reading through this.

    I am leaving in about a month, so if you have time at all, i would love to here from you, so i have an idea of whats going to happen.

    Thank you so much for being so clear and uncomplicated with how you’ve answered questions in the past, those posts helped me a lot, i just need a little clarity and advice. Anything would be wonderful, ty so much!

    • Syrina:

      A visitor’s visa is what you travel under when you go to the U.S.–except that you don’t have to fill out any forms. It lasts 182 days. There is no visa that last longer unless you get a green card to work, which takes a lifetime to get unless you have some really special skill and an employer is willing to hire you. So far as your Canadian benefits are concerned–I don’t know which you get–so I can’t answer that but if you are talking about provincial health insurance you are now allowed 7 months, since you are from B.C. If you get CPP and OAS, you can get those so long as you live no matter where you live.

      Milan

  246. I am a Canadian citizen. I am currently staying with my husband who lives in the States, while we wait for my interview date in Canada. He is an American Citizen.
    For months, Ive been trying to find out how long a Canadian can visit the States for without a visa. Well it looks like I’ve blown it. Ive been in the States since July 2012.

    What should I do ?

    • Gen:

      If you are waiting for permanent status you are no longer a visitor. I would suggest you get back home and get to your U.S.consulate right away to ask about the status of your application. There are rules about where you can live while waiting for such application. They have the technology to tell you exactly where your application is.

      Milan

  247. Hola Milan

    I have followed this topic since the beginning – you make everything very clear, and thank you.

    As a B.C. Resident, I have awaited the news of the increase from 6 to 7 months out of Province for health insurance. It now appears that we are able to stay away 212 days in a calendar year. I have only learned of this by way of your last statement dated May 15th at 1416.
    Having just returned from Mexico for our “Winter Break”, I haven’t seen anything on or in the news.

    We do of course buy additional health insurance, but good to know we now have that extra leeway.
    Is there a website that I may access to read the full new regulations.

    Thank you and regards

    Bill

    • Bill

      The legislation was passed and is retroactive to January 1. You can find all the details about that on the MSP website. B.C. now joins Ontario which increased it’s out-of-country allowance to 7 seven months several years ago. Manitoba has also recently stretched its out-of-country allowance to 7 months. Newfoundland allows up to eight months.

      Milan

  248. Hello,

    I recently returned from a trip to Mexico (we flew from the USA). I heard from the US customs officer that they are now scanning everyone’s passport. Does this mean that the US and Canada have started communicating better and will be keeping track of how long Canadians have been out of Canada?
    I wasn’t specifically counting the days I have been out of the country – I’m assuming I should start.

    Thanks for your response!

    Shelly

  249. Good Day Milan,

    I am a Canadian citizen and live in the province of Newfoundland. I understand that if you are a Newfoundlander travellling to the US for winter months, you can stay up to 8 months (less a day, I’m assuming) without your medicare being compromised. I am retiring this year and intend to winter in Florida because of Arthritis. I understand that Newfoundland would allow me to stay in the Unites States for 8 months but the United States would only allow me 6 months (less a day). Am I correct in assuming that if I wanted to stay for the 8 mnths set out by the legislature in our province that I would have to apply for a US VisitorsVisa as well as fill out 8840 IRS form for income tax purposes to denote that my home is maintained in Newfoundland and not Florida.

    Us poor souls need the eight momths. Here it is May 19th, 2013 and we were just graced with 58 centimeters of snow…….

    • Ruby:

      I sympathize with you. And though Newfoundland allows you to stay out of the province 8 months, the U.S. does not allow more than 182 days. Unfortunately, there is no visitor’s visa to extend that period. Getting a visa to live permanently in the U.S. is extremely difficult and is usually based on the applicants being able to get a job and be able to prove it. There are also family visas, but they take so long, I know of people who expired while in the wait list. I am afraid, from what I discern in your note, that you are stuck with the 182 day maximum– but then you can always go to Bermuda or the Caribbean or Portugal for the additional two months, although that is costly. About the 8840–you should file that every year regardless. If you spend any significant amount of time in the U.S. you may be considered a taxable alien. The 8840 can save you from that tax obligation by documenting that you have a closer connection to Canada. By all means, file your 8840 every year.

      Milan

  250. I am a Canadian (born and raised) and I live in Ontario and have been making several trips to Jamaica this past year. When I enter Jamaica Immigration stamps my card (which is to be kept with my passport) for 90 days. Most of the posts here indicate travels to the U.S. What is the total number of months/days per calendar year that I am allowed to be away from Canada in Jamaica?

    • Missey

      Canada has no requirement on how long you can be out of the country. As a Canadian citizen can be out forever if you wish without losing your citizenship. However, your province of residence requires you to be physically present for a certain time in order to remain eligible for provincial health benefits. In Ontario you must be physically present for a total of five months a year–not all in one segment.

      Milan

  251. Milan, with regards to your reply to Mac, May 3, 2013 11:43 “I wish somebody would kill this 30-day rumour. There is no such mandatory stay. The only thing that relates to 30 days is this: if you return to Canada during a prolonged stay in the U.S., and stay in Canada longer than 30 days that will be considered two separate trips when you return to the U.S. If you return to Canada for only 13 days, it will count as part of your 182 day allotment. But you still are only allowed no more than 182 days in total in a year.”

    What is the definition of Polonged Stay? 1, 2, 3, or more months?

    I’ve tried to find it but can’t.

    Thanks

    Mike

    • Mike:

      I am referring mostly to snowbirds who spend five to six months in the U.S. and return home for Christmas with the kids. This would have no effect on people who just stay one, two or even three months in the U.S. in total as they would not be concerned about the 182 day barrier.

      Milan

    • We are traveling from Ontario to Florida as snowbirds. If we return home for Christmas for 17 days, are we required to include these days as part of our 182 days of us residency?
      Sylvia

  252. Hello Milan,

    I am sure you may have answered this question many times. I am a Canadian who likes to spend Winter months away.

    1. My understanding is that we are allowed to stay in US for 6 months of the year. How does the US Border Protection calculate the 182 days example: From Jan-1 to Dec-31?

    2. Someone told me when you leave the US you need to stay out for 30 days or more in order for them not to count the days spent towards the 6-month allowance. Is this true? In other words if I leave the US for 2 weeks, when I return they count the two weeks I spent as part of my 6-month allowance although I did not stay in the US during that time. Please confirm.

    3. I heard a rumor that when you are 55 and older that the US then allows Canadians to stay for 8 months rather than 6. True or false?

    4. As an Ontario resident:
    How many months are we allowed to be out of the province while still being eligible for OHIP? Also would this be a calendar year ex/ Jan-1 to Dec-31?

    5. Is there any other important information that you can advise me on regarding Canada and the United States as a snowbird?

    • Birnal.

      That’s quite a bunch. Let’s do them one at a time.

      1) It could be either six months in a calendar year or six months in the past 12 (which pretty well amounts to the same thing). Just don’t play it too closely. Example, if you return to Canada in April after a six month stay and try to go back in May for another six months you will likely have a problem because the border agent will think you are spending more time in the U.S. Than Canada.

      2) What you were told is correct.

      3) A rumour is only a rumour. Not true. Age makes no difference–you still have only 182 days.

      4) You are allowed to be out of Ontario seven months out of the past 12

      5) The most important information I can offer is that you not get greedy and try to overrun the 182 days in 12 months, and get good travel insurance. That is something you can do right on this site as we offer insurance plans from all of Canada’s major insurers and underwriters.

      Milan

      • I live in British Columbia, are the time restraints the same as Ontario? GP

        • George & Claire

          I would not call them restraints, but Yes, both B.C. and Ontario allow their residents to be out of the province for up to seven months and still remain eligible for provincial health benefits. This was enacted this year. Manitoba, too has joined the seven months club. But that does not mean you can spend all that time in the U.S. as U.S. still allows you only six months as visitors.

          Milan

          • hi,
            can you tell me where I can find more documentation that b.c. residents are allowed to stay out of the country 7 months? this is the first place I have read it and would like more info. I also stay in the u.s. does that qualify me or do I have to go to mexico for a few months? thank you.
            kelly

          • Kelly:

            What documentation do you need? You can be sure that before we put up anything on our site, we have verified it with the original source. But if you wish, you can always call the B.C. Ministry of Health: just make sure you get to the right department. I also note that earlier this year, when the legislature approved the extension, it was all over your B.C. media. I don’t understand your last sentence. Please clarify it. You stay in the U.S.? Don’t you live in B.C.?

            Milan

  253. Hi Milan,

    I am in the process of booking my wife and my trip to Fortaleza Brazil and will be leaving at the end of September and returning in the 2nd week of March 2014. My wife is Brazilian and we will be applying for an extension to the standard 90 day visa to cover the approximate 160 days we will be there.

    We live in Ontario and plan on spending the Winters in Brazil and the Summers in Canada.

    My question is whether the 212 day allowance will be applied on a calendar basis or upon our March return we will only be allowed a further 52 days travel out of the country in 2014. I am not totally sure of how Ontario applies this ruling and whether OHIP would question this bearing in mind that we were applying the rules on a calendar basis?

    Really appreciate your time and assistance in providing such useful information to all of us who travel out of the country for extended periods.

    Bryan

    • Bryan:

      Ontario counts the 212 days on the basis of the previous 12 months, not necessarily a calendar year.

      Milan

  254. Hi,

    I was wondering if my wife and I were to drive to Mexico, leaving Canada Oct 17, 2013 and then entering Mexico on Oct 27, 2013. We will be staying in Mexico for approximately 4 months and then return to the US and continuing on to Canada over a period of one month. How does this affect our 182 days? Do we need to come back earlier than the four months?

    Thanks,
    Pat

  255. Hi,

    By the way, does this mean that the 182 days are split for the 2013 and 2014?
    See previous message.

    Thanks,
    Pat

    • Pat:

      You’re going to be in Mexico most of the time, so the few days you spend in the U.S. are insignificant. Certainly they will not count against your 182 day US quota as you will not be in the U.S. very long. Consequently you don’t have to worry about a split year.

      Milan

  256. everyone I know is telling me that Canada now has a new law and was passed , that we are aloud to stay in the United States now for up to 8 months.. can you comfirm this ,,pls

    • Dave:

      No. Canada cannot pass laws telling Americans how long they will accept visitors. What you may have heard is that B.C. and Manitoba have recently expanded their out of country allowance to seven months, in keeping with Ontario. But that does not allow them to stay in the U.S. for 7 months.

      Milan

      • I am a Canadian who travels extensively due to work. I own a Canadian company and have distributors and dealers in the USA. I travel back and forth regularly for business meetings with these companies. My travels can last for two months at a time.

        Am I allowed to travel back and forth for longer than the accumulated 180 days? If not, will a B-1 Visa allow me to do so?

        • Gord:

          Either a business visa or a NAFTA visa might be best for you. You are not a visitor and don’t fall into the 182 days category

          Milan

    • What you are referring to is that the United States Congress may pass legislation this summer (2013) that will allow Canadians, in particular snowbirds, to stay in the United States for up to 8 months rather than 6. The length of the stay, of course, depends also upon which province you live in.

      • Cathie:

        I am afraid you are confusing the rules. U.S. immigration or visitors rules have nothing to do with the provincial out of country allowances. They are totally separate issues. If you live in a province that requires six month residence, that’s all you’ve got, no matter what the U.S. does. And don’t hold your breath on the eight month visa. The American Congress has a lot of issues to deal with right now.

        Milan

  257. Hi Milan,

    I stumbled across your article while trying to look up answers for my question, I have been trying to call places and email people but no one seems to want to help or answer my questions. So I’m hoping that you’ll be able to help if you don’t mind! =)

    I was in the United States since Dec 4th 2012 and returned to Canada on May 19th 2013 (Passport was stamped until June 3rd). I’m planning on returning to the United States on the weekend of the 15th of June, for the lenght of about a week and a half, to two weeks. Last year, from June 23rd to July 7th 2012, I also went to the States. My passport still has years valid on it, so I know I’m good in that catergory.

    So my question in all of this is, will I have trouble going through customs with only (I believe) two weeks on my passport, or because of my trip in June to July, are all of my 6 months used up?

    As you can see, I’m very confused about the time allowance into the United States on a passport, and you seem very knowledgable on the regulations for it, so thank you very much for reading this, and I’m hoping you’re able to help.
    Thank you!

    • Chantal:

      Your passport is not the issue. The problem is that you will have used up your six months (or close to it) in the period from December through May. Going back in June might well put you over the limit as you are only allowed 182 days in the last 12 months. Your passport has nothing to do with that.

      Milan

      • Yes, but if I were to only go for the week or two like I’d mentioned, would I still be under the 182 days I’m allowed.. ?
        Or because of my trip in the summer of 2012, I’ve already topped off my 182 day limit? (If so, why did they previously stamp my passport valid from Dec 4th to June 3rd, making me think I have an extra two weeks valid)

        • Chantal:

          Count all of the days you have spent in the U.S. in the past 12 months. If it exceeds 182 you are out of days. I would have to see how they stamped your passport because usually they stamp it just on the day you enter. Were you travelling on some sort of visa?

          Milan

          • No, I was traveling on my passport alone. I’ve counted up the days and I do have 182 days on the dot. So I’ll have to postpone my trip for a little bit.

            Would you think, if I were to travel on June 24th (With my previous travel dates being June 23rd – July 7th 2012) that I would be accepted in and each passing day, my previous travel dates get counted out for being passed the one year mark for the 182 days..
            Esentially brining me down to 181 days, crossing the border and then coming back up to Canada after a week or so, with every passing day in the United States keeping me at 181 days?
            I’m sorry if I’m not good at explaining, kind of a difficult situation to explain, haha

          • Your passport is not relevant here. Your passport only identifies you and verifies your nationality. When you count your days in the U.S.
            you have to go by the rules of the paperless B1 visa which allows 182 days maximum in the last 12 months. Your passport does not allow you into the country for an extended period, the visa rules do. Just make sure you keep your passport with you and keep it up to date. It proves who you are. It gives you no privileges to visit another country unless that country allows it and that country sets the rules.

            Milan

  258. We were in the States from Dec 22/12 for sixty nine days terminating Mar 5/13 We were down for for 12 days in
    May. If we go down from Jul 1 to Nov 30 will we be over our limit even though we were in Canada for April half of May, June and the month of December

  259. Milan, I was in the USA from Dec 2 2012 to Jan 29 2013. Now i would like to go back for a period of four or five months starting in July to Dec 4 2013. Would i be allowed to go based on the 6 of 12 months rule?

    • Travis:

      I see no reason why not, so long as you have good documentation that you are a permanent resident of Canada ad are able to prove it if you have to.

      Milan

  260. Hi

    I am considering traveling within the U.S.A. I understand you may only stay in the U.S.A for 182 days.
    I am also considering combining this with travel within Mexico, and Canada, or perhaps only traveling within Canada.
    What is the maximum time I can be away from Canada before it affects my residency?
    What if I wanted to travel around within the borders of Canada before I decided a final place to live. (currently I reside in B.C but will be giving up this residency)
    How long can I travel within Canada before it affects my health care? Can this also affect my residency with Canada?

    Not sure if above is clear as mud. In a nutshell. I find myself in the position of being able to travel for the next year. I considered a road trip down through the States and into Mexico as an option. I also considered just staying in Canada and driving sea to sea, mountain to mountain etc., as a second option.

    Are there specific sites that I should be looking to for this information?

    Any advice would be helpful.

    • Cindy:

      Yes, you are only allowed up to 182 days in the U.S. per 12 months. If you travel extensively in Mexico for periods longer than 320 days those days will not count against the 182. You can travel throughout Canada as long as you wish, but you need to have residency in one province in order to be eligible for provincial health benefits. Right now, B.C, Manitoba and Ontario allow you to be out of the province for up to seven months in a 12 year period, Newfoundland allows 8 months vacancy. Without permanent residency in one province you won’t qualify for medicare. So you better think of settling down somewhere.

      Milan

  261. Hi Milan–If I cross into the US from Ontario Nov1/13, am I correct that I must cross back into Canada April 30/2014 to avoid contravening US laws for length of stay? Then do the same yearly as I try to stay as long in the US as possible? My Canadian residence allows occupation only from May 1-Oct 31 yearly.

    Also, if I were to overstay the 6 month period, would it be discovered only on my next US visit if the US border person noticed on my passport? Would he then make a decision on whether to allow me in or is it immediate dis-allowance of entry?

    Thank you!

    • Ted:

      Yes you could stay those six months you mentioned and do that annually.

      If you overstay and the U.S. border agent catches it, he has the power to ban you from entry for a few years, or if you habitually do it, for life.
      Since you don’t “check out” of the U.S. when you leave, the agent would have to count on your Canadian passport stamps. The overstay is a big loophole in the U.S. immigration rules and you might go undetected for years. But it only takes one smart agent to do the math and you could be banned. Best to stay within those rules and carry documentation proving your closer connection to Canada–utility bills, phone, 8840 forms (which you should definitely file with the IRS). It proves your closer connection to Canada.

      Milan

  262. I am a Manitoba resident. While in the US last winter we went to Singapore for 3 weeks in March,and this fall we plan on another trip out of the US to China. Do these trips away from the US count as days spent in the US or can we deduct them from our 182 days allowed? Also, a few years ago while at a Snowbird meeting in Winnipeg, the minister of Health made an announcement that Manitobans could now spend an extra month travelling within Canada. I have heard nothing more about this. Is it true? When I contacted Manitoba Health they didn’t seem to know anything about that announcement. Another question. If I come back to Manitoba for 5 days at Christmas, can that be subtracted from my 182 days?

    • Gail:

      If during your winter trip in the U.S. you go to Singapore for three weeks, it would count against your 182. But if you stayed for 30 days or more, it wouldn’t. It would be considered two separate trips into the U.S. Don’t ask me why. I think nobody knows why. And, Yes, Manitoban’s are now allowed seven months out of the province (to remain eligible for medicare) and that would allow you to travel through Canada, or any place, for an additional month, other than the U.S. which allows Canadians no more than six months.

      That rule change came through in April–we reported on it–and I have noticed that not all of the website sources run by the health ministry have caught up with that. But the rule is in place. I too have talked to people in the ministry who didn’t know about it, but I guess that just isn’t their “department.”

      Milan

  263. I cannot find any referance to 7 months for manitoba. If you hve a site with specifics please reply with same.
    L. Riediger

    Milan Korcok

    May 28, 2013 • 5:25 pm .Dave:

    No. Canada cannot pass laws telling Americans how long they will accept visitors. What you may have heard is that B.C. and Manitoba have recently expanded their out of country allowance to seven months, in keeping with Ontario. But that does not allow them to stay in the U.S. for 7 months.

    Milan

    • Louis:

      The health ministry didn’t do a very good job of publicizing the rule change, but it was made in April. And even some staffers and the website haven’t caught on to it yet. Following is confirmation of the change in the government’s own words.

      You are correct, people who live temporarily outside of Canada can now be away from Manitoba for up to seven months in a 12 month period and maintain their Manitoba Health coverage. 7(1)(g) of the Residency and Registration Regulation states the following:

      “Upon presentation of proof satisfactory to the minister, each of the following persons is deemed to remain a resident while absent from Manitoba:

      (g) a person who is legally entitled to be in Canada and who makes his or her home in Manitoba, but is temporarily absent from Canada for a period not exceeding seven months in a 12-month period for the purpose of temporarily residing outside of Canada, if the person intends to return to and reside in Manitoba immediately after the temporary absence.”

      Yves Vandal
      Manager, Registration/Client Services Unit
      Manitoba Health

  264. I am a Canadian Permanent Resident since 30 years and would like to know can I stay longer than 3 month
    in the USA with my ESTA? Where can I apply and is it possible to stay for 4 month without returning to Canada?

    • Ulrike:

      The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is normally used for air travelers, but it limits stays to three months. If you had a Canadian passport you could visit for 182.

      Milan

  265. Hi Milan,
    Another question for you that I hope you will be able to answer. My partner is an American and she came up this year with me and knows she can only stay 182 days. She was questioned extensively at the border and knows she has to be out of here by the 25th of September. I work 6 months here and spend the rest state side. This year how ever I have been asked to work an extra 2 weeks. Is it possible for my partner to ask for an extension and if so who should I go to see. I realize its probably Immigration Canada but what department exactly if that is the case…!
    Thanks once again…
    Michael

    • Michael:

      You need to contact the Canadian Border Services Agency. How did you get a job that only requires you to work six months? Border agents will be naturally curious about this hop scotching across the border–your partner for six in Canada and you for six in the U.S.

      Milan

      • Thanks Milan…….

        Am in the process of contacting the border agency.

        Have worked at a Golf course for the past 20 years and am edging into retirement…thus the 6 month
        or seasonal work opportunities.
        It works for me, other than the cross border situation, which I hope to settle soon!
        Thx again.
        Michael

        • Hi Milan…..Well its not the border service agencies in my case. It is Canada immigration.
          Thx anyways for all your help.
          Michael

  266. Hi Milan,
    What a wonderful thing you do to keep everyone educated about a topic that seems extremely cloudy. I live in B.C. and a minute drive from the Washington border. I cross the line weekly (often twice per week) to go hike and walk my dog in a park in Washington that is quiet and unpopulated. I do not spend 24 hours during these visits, but may stay the day and return home at dinnertime. Do these weekly crossings count towards the 182 days I’m allowed to spend in the US? Thank you in advance for your time and knowledge :)

    Carol

    • Carol:

      I’m afraid these brief visits do count against your 182 day limit. Even going over for lunch will count as one day. Just keep track.

      Milan

  267. Hi,
    I am a resident of Quebec and according to the RAMQ website, Quebec doesn’t count an absence of 21 days or less as part of the 183 days in a fiscal year. Can you clarify this as I keep getting mixed answers from different sources.
    According to what I understand, if I go to Florida for 5 1/2 months (Jan to mid May) and then go back again in October for 21 days, Quebec doesn’t count the 21 days.
    What am I missing here?
    Joanne

    • Joanne:

      Quebec allows you to be out of the province for up to six months, and it additionally allows short trips of up 21 days. Those short trips are not counted against your 183 day requirement. So yes, you can stay out for five and a half months and still take shorter trips throughout the year but the U.S. does not allow you to stay in the country for more than 182 days, so you have to take that into consideration. If you want to take some of those trips to other parts of Canada or Europe, go ahead, but you won’t be able to take too many of those trips to the U.S.

      Milan

  268. Hi,
    My dad was a snowbird but now has lung cancer and can’t return to Florida. I want to go down and pack up his things and either ship them back to New Brunswick or drive them back myself. Any idea how personal items are treated in terms of duty either when they are shipped or brought in by me (even though they aren’t mine). Or any idea who to speak to about this situation? Customs? Immigration? Border Services? Thanks. Allyson

    • Allyson:

      I don’t think you’ll have any problems if you can provide authorization from your father. But to be sure, contact the Canada Border Services Agency as it is Canadian customs you will be dealing with, not American.

      Milan

  269. Milan,

    I’m a Canadian with dual citizenship- I have a Canadian and foreign passport, and I reside outside of the U.S. and Canada.
    I came now to the U.S. with my Canadian passport, but plan on returning home, where i will use my other passport to enter.
    If I overstay my 182 days, (just by about two weeks) is there anyway the U.S. can find out, (due to the fact that my reentry to my home country is not documented in my Canadian passport- the passport I use to enter the U.S.)?
    Do they register when I leave the country?
    Do I have anything to worry about?

    • JJ

      Yes you do have something to worry about and that is the manipulation of passports to deceive U.S. border agents. I don’t know which “foreign” passport you have so I can’t answer you fully. Example, is it from a Visa Waiver country or not. But you must assume that the U.S. border agents can get the information about your coming and going even though you don’t register on your way out. And if they find you have used passports to deceive them, they can bar you from entry to the U.S. for many years, po