How to Travel Abroad for More than Six Months Without Losing your RAMQ Eligibility

Like many people, you may dream of traveling the world. The experience of discovering new places...

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Like many people, you may dream of traveling the world. The experience of discovering new places and different cultures is both rewarding and exciting.

In Quebec, you can travel up to six months a year without the risk of losing your eligibility for the Régie de l'Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

But what if you wish to travel for a longer period of time? Is it possible to maintain eligibility for the RAMQ while traveling for several months? The answer is yes! Here is what you need to understand:

What is the presence in Québec rule?

According to the RAMQ, if you reside in Quebec and are absent for more than 183 days per year, you lose eligibility for health insurance benefits. You must inform the RAMQ when you intend to be away from Quebec for an extended period of time by completing a form with the dates of your absence.

Traveling abroad travel insurance

How do you travel for a long time without losing your Quebec medical insurance?

Tip #1: Play with your departure dates according to the calendar year

It is important to note that for the RAMQ, days of absence in Quebec are calculated based on a calendar year, that is, from January 1 to December 31. Your absences must be less than 183 days during a calendar year. A well-planned departure can prove very beneficial if you keep this in mind.

For example, if you intend to travel for eight months in the fall of 2022, you will travel for three months in 2022 (October, November, and December) and five months in 2023 (January, February, March, April, and May). The RAMQ considers that you will spend nine months living in Quebec in 2022 and seven months living in Quebec in 2023, so you will be covered for both years.

It is important to know that stays under 21 days do not count towards the number of days of absence. You can go abroad for less than three weeks as often as you want without impacting your health insurance in Quebec.

Tip #2: Ask for your 7-year provision

You have the option of taking a 7-year provision every seven years. The coverage continues for the entire year, even if you are abroad for more than six months. In essence, it’s like getting special permission. Obtaining this exemption will enable you to travel without worrying about your provincial health insurance for twelve months. A new 7-year period will commence after six more years. For more information, please contact the RAMQ.

Tip #3: Be sure to check the other exemptions

RAMQ coverage may be maintained if you work, study, or complete an internship outside Quebec.

According to the RAMQ, if you comply with the following conditions, you will remain eligible for health insurance:

● A student enrolled in an educational institution;

● A full-time, unpaid intern;

● A Quebec government employee working outside of Quebec;

● A government of Canada employee working outside Quebec;

● A person in another province on temporary employment or contract;

● An employee of a non-profit organization with its head office in Canada;

● An employee or person performing a contract for a company or organization established in Quebec;

● A self-employed person performing a contract outside Quebec;

● A person living outside Quebec under a social security agreement.

This exemption may also apply if you are accompanying someone (spouse or dependent children) working, studying, or doing an internship outside of Quebec.

There is one more exemption that we would not wish upon anyone. If you cannot return to Quebec due to a hospitalization outside of the province or if you are providing assistance to a hospitalized person, you can also maintain your eligibility for health insurance by submitting a medical certificate. Please consult the RAMQ for more information on these exemptions.

Medical insurance for traveling abroad

How do I continue to travel after using my 7-year provision?

If you get the travel bug and decide to travel for several months or even years, you may not be covered anymore by the RAMQ, but don't worry! There are several options to consider: for instance, you may wish to consider travel insurance for expats. There is always a way, and soNomad can help you find it!

Get in touch with a soNomad agent for advice on what options best suit your situation (with or without RAMQ).