How to Retire in Canada

If you’re interested in heading north of the border for retirement, it’s important to think about life there and consider your goals and budget. Canada is a popular destination for those looking for a new start. It aims to welcome 485,000 individuals as permanent residents in 2024, and 500,000 in 2025.

If you want to retire in Canada, here’s how:

— Know your options for a tourist visa.

— Research other visa options.

— Understand permanent residency in Canada.

— Manage your taxes.

— Prepare your household.

— Learn about health care costs.

[See: Best Places to Retire in Canada]

Know Your Options for a Tourist Visa

When you enter Canada, you could receive a visitor visa that is valid for six months from the day you enter. If you’d like to stay longer, you can fill out some paperwork to obtain permission to extend your stay. As a tourist, you can purchase a vacation home and set up a bank account in Canada. “I’ve done this myself and never had any problems at the bank or at the border,” says Cori Carl, author of “Moving to Canada.”

This might be a viable option for those planning to split their retirement between two or more locations. If you spend six months of the year in the warmer locales of the Southern U.S., you could live in Canada for the remaining time. You’ll be considered a U.S. citizen and will need to pay U.S. taxes with this setup. You won’t have access to Canadian health care coverage and won’t be subject to Canadian taxes.

Research Other Visa Options

If you have children or grandchildren in Canada, you can apply for the parent and grandparent super visa. This type of visa would allow you live in Canada for up to two years at a time for a total of 10 years. However, it doesn’t provide access to provincial health coverage or other benefits of residency. To qualify for the super visa, your child or grandchild must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada and must write a letter promising to financially support you for the duration of your visit.

Understand Permanent Residency in Canada

For those planning to stay in Canada for more than six months each year or who are not eligible for a family super visa, it may be possible to apply for permanent residency. As a permanent resident of Canada, you’ll have access to government-based programs such as health care. Permanent residency can also lead to Canadian citizenship.

Canada does not have a retirement visa. Paths to permanent residency include an immigration process called Express Entry set up for those who have certain skills or want to operate businesses in Canada. Some Canadian provinces have immigration options that are based on graduation from Canadian universities or open to people in specific professions. If you’re planning to have a second career in retirement and are looking at working for several years, these might be viable immigration options.

[See: The Best Places to Retire Overseas]

Manage Your Taxes

Moving to Canada doesn’t mean you need to give up your U.S. citizenship. You can receive Social Security benefits while living in another country, but you will also likely still be subject to U.S. taxes if you earn supplemental income. This is because the United States has citizen-based taxation. “Retirees in Canada may still owe U.S. taxes on their U.S. retirement income along with any other Canadian earned income,” says Nathalie Goldstein, CEO of MyExpatTaxes, a tax software company.

In addition, you might need to declare your worldwide income to the Canada Revenue Agency, Canada’s version of the IRS. “At first glance, it may seem like U.S. retirees will be double-taxed by both the U.S. and Canada,” Goldstein says. “However, that is not the case if they are able to optimize their tax return using the benefits defined in the U.S. and Canadian tax treaty and other expat tax reliefs such as the foreign earned income exclusion and foreign tax credit benefits.”

Prepare Your Household

Everyday expenses might be lower or higher in Canada, depending on the area you live and lifestyle you choose. You’ll want to research cities and travel to them to determine if they’ll be a good fit.

Bringing pets could involve several steps. “Dogs and cats will require proof of rabies vaccination,” says Ajay Singh, a former lawyer and managing director of RetireBetter. They will typically undergo an inspection at customs, and you may need to show additional documentation.

Large belongings like vehicles will have several requirements. “You’ll need to pay duty on any value that exceeds CAD $10,000,” Singh says. You’ll also want to make sure your auto is eligible for Canada. “If you’re considering a permanent move, you’ll need to get your car registered locally, obtain Canadian plates and secure a valid Canadian car insurance policy,” Singh says.

[Related:How to Retire Overseas]

Learn About Health Care Costs

If you only spend several months of the year in Canada and don’t become a permanent resident, you may need to purchase international health insurance. “Unless you obtain permanent residency or citizenship, you won’t have access to free health care,” Singh says.

You generally cannot use Medicare for health care services in another country.

Set up a plan before making a temporary or long-term move. Assess your budget to see if it’s financially feasible to live in Canada. Speaking with others who have retired there could help you decide what’s best for your next stage.

More from U.S. News

How to Retire Overseas

The Best Places to Retire Overseas

How to Buy Property Overseas for Retirement

How to Retire in Canada originally appeared on

Update 09/29/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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