The vast majority of questions sent to us at Travel Insurance File have to do with how long Canadians are allowed to be out-of-the country or in the United States. It’s not a complex issue, but if you travel frequently, or for long periods, it is wise to keep a running scorecard. It will make your life much simpler.
With the new year providing you a baseline, get a calendar or use your smartphone or computer to notch every day you spend out of the country while you are out of the country. And remember that any time you spend in another country, say the U.S., is counted as a full day in that country, even though you are returning to Canada, and you spend most of that day in Canada. By charting your days as you go, you won’t have to try to stress your memory or try recall what you did last spring or summer.
Keeping this scorecard will do several things. It will keep a running score of how many days you have left to spend in the U.S., if that is your prime destination. You are allowed up to 182 per calendar year or in the last 12 months (that depends on how the U.S. border control agent interprets what are ambiguous rules). Actually, they pretty well amount to the same thing.
What else it does, however, is help you keep track of how many days you have spent out of your province, which is important because all provinces except Ontario and Newfoundland require you to be physically present in your home province for at least 183 days per year in order to be considered a permanent resident qualified for provincial health insurance (medicare). Ontario requires you to be present for only five months, and Newfoundland four months. Please refer to our e-book Out of Country Travel—What Canadian Travellers Need to Know for specific provincial details as some provinces calculate your out-of-province days on a calendar year basis and some on a previous 12-month basis. Access to the e-book is available free to Snowbird Plus members. It’s one of the key advantages of membership.
Remember also to keep track of travel to countries other than the U.S. as that counts against your provincial allotment for medicare eligibility.
It’s a new year. Start out right. Keeping track this way makes your life a lot simpler and can save you unnecessary embarrassment at the border later on.