Canada is officially the second largest country in the world, beaten only by Russia, although in terms of population it only has 20% of Russia’s population with a total population of just less than 34 million. The vast majority of people in the country live within around 200km of the US border, which leaves vast amounts of land which are uninhabited as you travel further north. The US is Canada’s neighbour and the two countries have very strong economic ties. Canada is one of the most popular countries for expats to head to for a new life and it is the country’s immigration policy which has helped it to create one of the world’s strongest economies.
The capital of the country is Ottawa, although the largest city is actually Toronto. Canada is a bilingual country with French and English both serving as official languages. Those who move to a French-speaking part of the country should be aware that there are slight differences in culture due to the influence of French rule. The currency in use is the Canadian dollar.
Paying Canadian income tax depends upon many different factors. One of these is residency and others include owning a home in the country, having relatives who live there and Canadian bank accounts.
If you are not considered to be a resident of Canada (in the country for less than 183 days each year) then you will only pay income tax on money that you have earned in Canada. If you are in the country for longer than 183 days then you are considered to be a resident of Canada and you can be taxed on money that you earn anywhere in the world.
Most people who earn money within Canada will not need to file a physical tax return as there is a ‘PAYE’ system in place for most workers. Calculating tax in Canada can appear to be complicated as there are two systems in place – provincial taxation and federal taxation. If you need to submit a tax return the two types can be calculated on the one form, unless you are living in Quebec.
Visa, Residency & Immigration Laws
In order to obtain a visa for Canada there are a number of basic requirements before you apply. You must have a valid passport that will be in date for the duration of your planned stay. You must be in good health. If your visit is for a short stay then you need to be able to reassure the Canadian authorities that you do not intend to remain in the country for longer than your visa allows. You will also need to have enough money to support you while you are there. When you travel you must ensure that your travel documents are all in order, or you may be denied entry to the country. You may also be required to undergo a medical examination before a visa is issued.
As a general rule, residents of the UK and USA will not require a visa to visit Canada, although for more permanent immigration it is a necessity.
Buying a house in Canada is a simple process whether you are classed as a resident or non-resident. If you are a non-resident, this means you plan to stay in the country for less than 6 months per year but you are still eligible to open a bank account and you can still purchase property. Those who are considering staying in Canada full time or those who want to spend longer than 6 months per year in the country must apply for immigration status.
There is generally no restriction to foreign buyers purchasing property or land in most of the provinces although some do have limits on the amount of property or land that can be purchased. Those restrictions include the province of Alberta where you as a foreign buyer are only allowed to purchase a maximum of 2 plots of land which must not exceed 20 acres in total. In Manitoba, if you want to buy farmland then you must be living on the property within two years of purchase. Prince Edward Island has a rule that states non-residents wishing to buy land that has a shore front of greater than 165 feet, or any land area over 5 acres have to apply to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission prior to purchase. If Saskatchewan is the place you are hoping to live then you cannot own more than 10 acres of land as a foreign buyer.
Retiring in Canada
There is no specific retirement age in Canada but traditionally many people retire at the age of 65. It is becoming popular now to retire at a younger age. There is legislation in most territories which prevents people being forced to retire at a certain age. Most retired people in Canada have more than one source of income for their old age and those who are already retired when they move to the country usually have income other than their state pension.
The state pension scheme is known as Old Age Security, often shortened to OAS. This pension is only payable to those who have spent a certain amount of time in the country. You must have spent a minimum of 10 years living in Canada after the age of 18. This benefit is not based on work that you have done. This is payable when you get to the age of 65. This is not a benefit that is paid to all people and payments will take into account money that you receive from other sources, so you will need to declare other forms of income when you make your application.