28 March 2024

A Guide On Tax Residency Determination In Canada

Under the Canadian taxation system, your income tax obligations and entitlements are informed by your residency status.
Canada Tax
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Under the Canadian taxation system, your income tax obligations and entitlements are informed by your residency status. Whether you're a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a foreign national, your tax residency status depends on various factors outlined by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). This blog post provides a comprehensive guide on the factors involved in determining your tax residency status in Canada.

Residential Ties

The CRA considers several factors when determining whether an individual is a tax resident of Canada. These elements, often referred to as "residential ties," include primary and secondary ties.

Primary Residential Ties

Primary residential ties are among the most significant factors the CRA will consider when determining an individual's residence status and include the following:

  1. Location of dwelling (i.e., a home);
  2. Location of a spouse or common law partner; and
  3. Location of dependants.

Secondary Residential Ties

The CRA also collectively considers various secondary residential ties when determining a taxpayer's residence status. These include:

  1. Personal property in Canada (e.g., furniture, clothing, automobiles, and recreational vehicles);
  2. Social ties with Canada (e.g., memberships in Canadian recreational or religious organizations);
  3. Economic ties with Canada (e.g., employment with a Canadian employer, active involvement in a Canadian business, Canadian bank accounts, retirement savings plans, and securities accounts);
  4. Landed immigrant status or appropriate work permits in Canada;
  5. Hospitalization and medical insurance coverage from a province or territory of Canada;
  6. A driver's license from a province or territory of Canada;
  7. A vehicle registered in a province or territory of Canada;
  8. A seasonal dwelling place in Canada or a leased dwelling place;
  9. A Canadian passport; and
  10. Memberships in Canadian unions or professional organizations.

Secondary ties, along with other factors and conditions, are examined to determine your actual residency status. Having one secondary residential tie alone may not be adequate to establish residency in Canada, especially if significant residential ties to Canada are lacking.

It is important to note that the CRA may deem other residential ties relevant in specific circumstances, such as maintaining a mailing address, post office box, or safety deposit box, possessing personal stationery with a Canadian address, and being listed in Canadian telephone directories.

Length of Stay

The duration of an individual's stay in Canada within a tax year plays a significant role in residency determination. Typically, if you spend 183 days or more in Canada during a tax year, you're considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes. However, even if your stay is shorter, other factors, such as primary and secondary residential ties, can affect your residency status.

Tax Treaties

In cases where an individual is considered a resident of both Canada and another country for tax purposes, treaty tie-breaker rules come into play. These rules help resolve conflicts in residency status between countries with which Canada has tax treaties (such as the USA, UK, Australia, India, and the Philippines) and helps to avoid double taxation. Tie-breaker rules do not necessarily look at all the 'facts and circumstances'; rather they focus on factors such as the individual's permanent home, center of vital interests, habitual abode, and nationality.

Types of Residential Status

Based on the above criteria, there are three categories that the CRA may place an individual into for the purpose of residency status:

  1. Residents: Individuals who meet the criteria and have significant residential ties to Canada are considered residents for tax purposes. They are subject to Canadian income tax on their worldwide income.
  2. Non-Residents: Individuals who do not have significant residential ties to Canada are considered non-residents for tax purposes. They are generally subject to Canadian tax on Canadian-source income only.
  3. Deemed Residents: Certain individuals who may not meet the criteria but are deemed residents under specific circumstances, such as individuals who have established significant residential ties to Canada and are not considered residents of another country under a tax treaty.

Assistance in Determining your Residency Status

If you are uncertain as to which of these three categories your situation falls under, you may want to speak to a tax lawyer. You may also consider completing the following forms, to be filed with the CRA to assess your ties to Canada and other countries, facilitating the determination of your residency status for tax purposes:

  1. Form NR74 – Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada): This form is typically completed by individuals who are new to Canada or who have returned after an extended absence.
  2. Form NR73 – Determination of Residency Status (Leaving Canada): This form is typically completed by individuals who are leaving Canada permanently or for an extended period of time.

If you seek greater assurance regarding your residency status upon arriving in or departing from Canada, you may consider applying to the Income Tax Rulings Directorate for an advance income tax ruling. Unlike Forms NR73 or NR74, a ruling from the Directorate typically carries more weight with the CRA as it is legally binding. However, the CRA will only issue a ruling if all relevant facts can be determined before your departure or arrival in Canada.

Although the CRA has the authority to determine an individual's residency status, these determinations are not always reliable and can be subject to error. It is advisable to seek guidance from a tax lawyer when completing these forms or seeking an income tax ruling to ensure compliance and mitigate any potential tax implications.


Determining residency status under Canada's income tax legislation can be intricate and sometimes unclear. Residents are required to report their worldwide income to the CRA and are eligible for various tax credits and deductions. Non-residents, on the other hand, are only taxed on their Canadian-source income. Given the complexities surrounding residency determinations, it is important to speak to a tax professional with experience in this area to ascertain your tax obligations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

28 March 2024

A Guide On Tax Residency Determination In Canada

Canada Tax


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