Winter in the Sun? Legal Tips for Planning Your Escape


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For many Quebecers, winter means going south to the United States. Passports, insurance, travelling with children: here are you tips to help you plan your escape!


1 – Make sure your passport is good for your whole stay.

You need a valid passport to leave Canada by air.

Important! Some countries won’t let you enter if your passport will expire during your trip. Before you leave, check the expiry date on your passport to avoid surprises.

You can enter the US by land or by sea with other documents, such as an enhanced driver’s licence (EDL). But your passport is the best travel document. It proves that you’re a Canadian citizen and that you have the right to return to Canada.


2 – Residency: Check how long you’ll be away.

The length of your stay outside Canada can have consequences in Canada. As a general rule, you have to live in Quebec for more than six months to be covered by Quebec’s public health insurance plan (RAMQ) and the public car insurance plan managed by the Société d’assurance-automobile du Québec (SAAQ).  

As a general rule, Canadians don’t need a visa to enter the United States for a limited period of time. You can extend this period of time, but it’s best to check the rules before you go because they might have changed. Also, you might end up having to pay income tax in the United States if you stay too long.


3 – Check your insurance coverage.  

A minor car accident or health problem while outside Canada, however small, could end up costing you a lot and have serious legal consequences. So it’s a good idea to look into your insurance protection and get the right insurance before you leave.


Health: Think about getting complete protection.  

Hospital care or a visit to a doctor outside Canada can be expensive. The RAMQ doesn’t cover everything. It’s important to know what the RAMQ will pay for.

It’s a good idea to get private health insurance that will pay for what the RAMQ doesn’t cover.


Driving: Get the right insurance.

The public insurance plan managed by the SAAQ compensates you if you’re injured in a car accident outside Quebec. 

In Quebec, you have to have private civil liability insurance (section A). This insurance covers injuries caused to another person that the SAAQ plan doesn’t cover. It also covers some property damage. But it may not cover car accidents outside Quebec. It’s a good idea to check with your car insurance company to see what additional protection you need for driving outside Quebec.

Some credit card companies also offer damage insurance when you rent a car using their credit card.


Home Insurance: Check what it covers. 

Some home insurance policies will not cover you if you’re away for a long time. Check with your insurer before leaving to make sure you have the right protection.  


4 –Check the rules on travelling with children.

Will your grandchildren want to visit you while you’re away? It’s a good idea to check the rules on children travelling alone or accompanied.


Don’t forget! While you’re away, take basic precautions. The website of the government of Canada has useful information for travelling to the United States.