I am leaving Canada - What steps do I have to take?
Do I have to notify someone that I am leaving Canada?
Not really. Just like the usual steps everyone takes, you should make a clean cut by cancelling all contracts you had, for example cancel phone contracts, close all bank accounts after you paid off the credit cards, cancel the car insurance after you sold your car, give notice to your landlord, etc.
Your SIN will automatically expire at the same time as your work permit. No need to do anything there. But from the tax perspective, there are a few steps to take before you leave to assure smooth processes from your home country.
1. Download the "Record of Employment" from Service Canada
When the employment relationship is terminated, regardless of whether you have been laid off or have resigned yourself, the employer is required by law to issue a “Record of Employment”. This is the proof of employment and it proves the exact time period you worked for that employer. This Record of Employment can also be viewed and printed online in the My Service Canada account. So, register there right away and download the ROE after each job and while you are still in Canada.
Employers who submit the Record of Employment (ROE) to Service Canada electronically are no longer required to provide a copy to the employee. You can politely ask employers for a copy. Some do. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to register an account with Service Canada to retrieve the ROE once the SIN number has expired.
That’s why it is very important to do this step before you leave Canada.
If there is a social security agreement with your country, you can have the time you worked in Canada credited to your country’s pension period. For this you will have to contact your country’s pension government agency to find out if such agreement with Canada exists, and what paperwork they need. This application to credit the worked time in Canada can be made as soon as you return to your home country.
The following steps 2 + 3 + 4 are only for tax payers who already filed a tax return in Canada. If you have never filed a Canadian tax return skip to step 5 on this page.
2. In the CRA account: Change the 2-factor authentication from "text message" to passcode grid
Before you cancel your phone plan, do this step in your CRA online account first, because you will lose access to the CRA account after you cancelled your phone plan. The passcode grid option allows you to log in without a phone and even after your SIN will be expired.
3. In the CRA account: Delete the direct deposit information if you cancel your Canadian bank account
If you signed up for direct deposit the CRA will attempt to direct deposit your tax refund into a closed bank account. It is a pain and costs valuable time to get this changed to cheque and receive the tax refund.
If you want to keep your Canadian bank account open until you receive the tax refund, it’s fine too. Then you can transfer all funds out to your home country. Here are some of the options.
What is CRA My Account?
The CRA My Account is the online tax account with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You will have access to all your T4 from all years and from all employers, and you will receive the tax assessment in this account after you have filed a Canadian tax return. Other notifications (mail) from the tax authority will also be available here.
The tax authority only communicates through this CRA My Account account and by regular mail. Never via e-mail. Sound familiar? You’re right, it’s similar to the GCKey account when you applied for an IEC work permit.
You can only register for a “CRA My Account” if you have already filed a Canadian tax return and that tax return has been processed.
You can then register manually. You’ll need to provide personal information:
- SIN number
- Date of birth
- Postal code that you entered in your tax return
- Tax return (you will be asked for the amount “in line 10100 or 15000 of your tax return”)
You register >> here << under “Option 2“, CRA Register, then create a user ID, a password and security questions.
After the registration process, you will have limited access to CRA My Account, but you will be able to view the status of your tax return once you have submitted it online and it was processed.
If you want to have full access, i.e. also want to view the tax assessment, you must activate the account with a CRA security code (access code). The code will be sent to the address indicated in the tax return.
The CRA My Account is automatically created by the tax authority when you enter your email address in your Canadian tax return. From then on, communication via this CRA My Account will begin. This is what it looks like in Wealthsimple Tax, for example.
Since 2021, the CRA has put in place a security system to ensure that only you have access to the CRA My Account.
You have the choice between
- (SMS) Telephone number
- Passcode grid
Many Work and Travellers on an IEC work permit and taxpayers choose the Canadian mobile option, and every time you log in, a text message is sent with a one-time code. So you can only log in to this CRA My account with a Canadian mobile phone. This option only works as long as you have a Canadian phone.
When you prepare to leave Canada you will cancel the phone plan, that means you will lose access.
So, before you leave the country and before you cancel your Canadian mobile phone contract, you have to change the multi-factor authentication to the “passcode grid” in your CRA My Account.
There you can make changes like the address, or deleting the direct deposit if you have already closed the Canadian account. By the way, changing the address after each move is one of the obligations of a taxpayer.
4. Stop the GST/HST credit payments
If you filed a Canadian tax return and were eligible for GST/HST payments, you will continue to receive those quarterly GST/HST payments even though you left Canada. The GST credit is only available as long as you are in Canada. Since you left Canada during the tax year, you are no longer eligible for the GST credit after departure. That’s why you must call the GST department to stop the payments: 1-800-387-1193
If you are still receiving them, despite calling or if you don’t call, don’t spend that money, you have to repay it at tax time.
5. Do not discard of very important paperwork
Even after you filed your tax returns in Canada, sometimes the tax authority will ask additional questions or requests additional documents. They can still do that within 3-6 years. If, for any reason, the tax authority becomes suspicious and makes a certain claim, it is up to you to prove that claim to be false.
For example, the tax authority might do a notice of reassessment as a non-resident which could end up in a high tax repayment. They might claim that you did not have enough ties to Canada in the tax year to be considered a “resident for tax purposes”. Now it’s up to you to prove them wrong.
Therefore, it is important that you take all documents from Canada home with you and keep them for at least 6 years. This is the official retention period from the tax authority.
>>Read it here<<<
Digital form is allowed!
In today’s modern world, most documents are available as PDFs anyway. e.g. account statements can be easily downloaded from online banking and stored on a PC or online.
And now there are so many apps that allow you to take pictures of documents and save them as PDFs.
The documents include everything that connected you to Canada during the Work and Travel year.
- Copy of work permit
- T4 of all years and of all employers
- Last pay check of all employers
- Record of Employment (ROE)
- Notice of Assessment (tax assessment) from all years
- Rental contract for apartments and shared flats with your name on it
- Bank statements from the Canadian bank
- Bill of Sale for the car you purchased
- Registration of the car
- Insurance policy of the car
- Copy of Canadian driver’s license
- Mobile phone contract/mobile phone bills
- Copy of provincial health card (Canadian health insurance)
After returning home
1. Change the address to your new home address
To ensure the CRA can contact you for tax assessments or tax audits you have to update the address in the CRA system every time you move. From experience, the CRA usually sends tax assessments to the address in their system rather to the new address in the tax return. This means the tax refund cheque might end up at your last Canadian address and/or get lost.
So you have to change the address in the CRA system before you file the next Canadian tax return.
You can change your address:
- Online: in the CRA account
- By phone:
- Calls from within Canada: 1-800-959-8281
- Calls from outside Canada: +1-613-940-8495
- By mail: Mail the completed form RC325 to the address on the form
2. Gather all T4 Slips from all employers in the tax year you left
Around February/March of the following year you will receive a T4 from each employer. For example in February/March 2024 you receive a T4 for the tax year 2023. The Canadian tax year is from January-December.
The T4 (Statement of Remuneration) is a summary of the tax year where all earnings and deductions are reported to the CRA. You need this T4 from each employer to be able to file your Canadian tax return.
The T4 will be sent to you automatically by your employers and a copy also goes to the CRA. The employers are required by law to issue you a T4 by the end of February, even if you only worked there for a few days. In most cases, the T4 are sent by post. So you have to make sure you give them your new address. But you can also ask the employer to send this to you by email. You do not need the original.
If you don’t receive the T4 by the end of March (including post time), send the employer a reminder. If you have access to your CRA account, you can print out the T4 from there.
If you received government benefits like employment insurance benefits, then a T4 slip will be issued as well around March. From Service Canada is will be a T4E. If you have access to the CRA account, the T4E can be downloaded from there. Please wait for this T4E slip before you file your taxes.
Be aware, you can only register for the MyCRA account after you filed a tax return in Canada.
3. File a Canadian tax return
Because you left Canada, you must file the last tax return on paper and send it to the CRA via post. There is no online filing software for tax filers outside of Canada.
Canadataxback is helping IEC participants who left Canada permanently. You can request a free tax calculation, then you can decide if you would like to use the taxback service which is the cheapest on the entire Internet. The fees start at only $20.
Here are the steps in our process and a taxback calculation form, that is protected, so you can submit your T4 slips in a secured way.