Do you want to pack up and travel to the U.S. to get away from the frosty Canadian winter but don’t know how long you can stay? Staying too long could result in certain tax implications or even losing your public health care coverage.

Generally, Canadian citizens who travel to the U.S. are allowed to stay for up to a total of 182 days in a twelve-month period. Those days may be amassed during one trip or they could be the sum of multiple trips. Staying in the U.S. for 183 days or more in any one calendar year will require U.S. federal taxes to be paid.

To complicate things a little further, the IRS uses a “substantial presence” formula to add up the number of days you have spent in the U.S.
The formula is calculated as follows:

  • Each day in the U.S. during the current calendar year counts as one day.
  • Each day in the U.S. from the prior year counts as one-third.
  • Each day in the U.S. from the year before the previous year counts as one-sixth.

If this calculation from the three-year span adds up to 183, “substantial presence” in the U.S. would be achieved. A general rule of thumb is to keep your stay under 120 days annually, as that would add up to 180 days over the three years.

Canadian permanent residents and residents of other countries are only permitted to stay up to 90 days per year. 

Alberta Health Care coverage normally terminates after 182 days of absence from Alberta in a 12 month period, but you may be permitted up to 212 days of absence if you regularly travel for the purpose of vacation.

Other provinces have different maximum durations of absence to continue provincial health care coverage – please check with your local provincial health care eligibility guides to ensure that you may continue your health care coverage for extended absences.