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RAMQ: Travel 183 days outside Canada without losing health insurance coverage

To the point Health coverage is excellent in Quebec with RAMQ! But did you know that you can lose it if you travel too often or for too long? Here's how to travel outside Canada for more than 183 days without losing your RAMQ coverage.

Leaving Quebec: RAMQ coverage when traveling

Does the Régie d’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) cover our out-of-province medical expenses? Yes, but the RAMQ only pays for care that is covered in Quebec and at Quebec rates.

Therefore, getting emergency medical insurance is strongly recommended. Medical bills are usually much higher elsewhere!

In fact, the insurance company you have will request a reimbursement of part of the costs from RAMQ and will pay the difference. The latter can represent several thousand dollars.


Many credit cards come with excellent insurance. Then, most of them are valid simply by being a card holder.

You must be insured by the public health insurance plan to benefit from credit card emergency medical care insurance.

The importance of travel insurance

Once you’ve made sure you’re covered by RAMQ, it’s time to get travel insurance so you’re covered abroad.

Although some credit cards offer this type of insurance, the duration and conditions do not necessarily meet the personalized needs of each individual, as is the case with snowbirds who require long-term coverage. There are insurers like soNomad who offer affordable and convenient insurance. Read our guide to find out how to get a quick online quote and save for your next trip.

Do you have family or friends visiting Canada who don’t have access to RAMQ? soNomad also offers affordable and convenient insurance for these people, as well as for foreign workers and students.

RAMQ coverage at home

Contrary to popular belief, the RAMQ does not cover all Quebecers. To maintain eligibility for RAMQ, a person cannot be absent from Quebec for more than 183 days in a calendar year (i.e. from January 1 to December 31).

These 183 days are cumulative.

The RAMQ has set up an absence calculator on its website.

In addition, the RAMQ can claim retroactively the total amount of care received in Quebec if you lose your eligibility for the calendar year in question.

So that includes all treatments, even those you had before you left on your trip!

We are not used to seeing hospital statements, but they can run into the thousands of dollars very quickly.

Fun fact

In Montreal, I once treated a lady who was hospitalized for a severe dental abscess. The bill for the 11-day stay in intensive care was $44,000.

Septennial year: Exceptions to the Quebec presence rule

Certain situations allow for exemption from this regulation.

In fact, if you are unable to return to Quebec due to a long-term hospitalization, you will retain your eligibility for RAMQ. The latter will ask you to provide a medical certificate.


Then, every seven years, you can waive the attendance rule without consequence, regardless of the reason for the trip. To take advantage of the seven-year period, you must inform the RAMQ.

Finally, when you leave Quebec for reasons related to studies, internships or work, you remain covered. Depending on the situation, various supporting documents will be required.

In all cases, you must notify the RAMQ of your absence in order to get the forms to fill.

Staying outside Canada: Tips to maintain your RAMQ eligibility!

For those who want to go for a long time, try to spread your trip over two different calendar years.

Here is an example: travel from October 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022 (92 days in 2021 + 120 days in 2022 for a total of 212 days)

Finally, here’s what you need to remember about traveling longer than 183 days in a year without losing RAMQ: stays of less than 21 consecutive days are not taken into account, nor are departure and return dates.

Then you can also take several short trips without any problems, or even travel several months at a time, as long as it doesn’t exceed 183 cumulative days (more than six months abroad) after deducting stays of 21 days or less and departure and return dates.

Bottom Line

No one is immune to accidents or illness, whether at home or while travelling. With the right emergency medical care insurance and respecting RAMQ rules, you can leave (and return) with peace of mind!

How long can you leave or stay outside Canada without losing RAMQ coverage?

You can stay outside Canada for up to 183 cumulative days per year without losing your RAMQ eligibility. However, this does not include stays of 21 consecutive days or less, or departure and return dates.

What is not covered by travel health insurance?

When traveling abroad, it’s essential to have emergency medical insurance to ensure coverage in the event of an emergency.

Outside the province of Quebec but within Canada, the Régie d’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) covers only those medical expenses that are normally covered in Quebec, and at Quebec rates.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
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I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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