I am retiring abroad – what should I do?

Many Canadians decide to spend their retirement years in another country. Retiring abroad is not as simple as booking plane tickets; planning to spend all or part of this time abroad can be complicated from both a financial and a personal perspective. Some of the key factors to consider are discussed below.

Tax planning

The length of time that an individual spends outside of Canada has implications for the way in which their taxes must be filed. Canadians living abroad may still have to pay Canadian and provincial or territorial income taxes. It is important to determine residency status and applicable income tax rules prior to retiring abroad.

Residency status depends on a number of factors:

  • Why and how long a person spends outside of Canada;
  • How often and for how long a person returns to Canada;
  • Residential and social ties established in the new country; and
  • Residential and social ties to Canada.

These factors will determine whether a retiree is considered a resident or non-resident of Canada for income tax purposes. For additional information about the categories of residency status, please refer to the following: Taxation for Canadians travelling, living or working outside Canada. You can contact a TEP to discuss how these rules apply to your specific situation.

Medical care

Retiring outside of Canada may impact medical coverage from a provincial or territorial health plan. Generally, provincial and territorial plans will only cover a limited number of costs associated with emergency health services received while living temporarily outside of Canada. Treatments must be medically necessary, provided at a licensed hospital or health facility, and for an acute illness or injury that is medically necessary and not pre-existing.

To plan for retirement abroad, it is helpful to consult the guides published by the applicable provincial or territorial health plan regarding medical coverage outside of Canada. It will likely be necessary to purchase additional medical coverage.

Financial planning

It is important to speak with a financial professional to plan for all contingencies associated with living and retiring abroad. Useful first steps include opening a foreign bank account in the host country and advising Canadian banks and credit card companies of living abroad.

Retiring abroad poses a number of challenges and can be risky if not planned properly.

For further information or help planning a retirement abroad, please consult a TEP.


An article of this kind can never provide a complete guide to the law in these areas, which may be subject to change from time to time. The opinions and suggestions made within this article should not be interpreted as specific advice in relation to any particular individual or individuals. Neither STEP, the article author or their firm accept responsibility for any loss occasioned by someone acting or refraining to act on the basis of the opinions and suggestions contained in this article. More