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International students in Canada

If you're an international student studying in Canada, you may have to file a Canadian income tax return. You must determine your residency status to know how you will be taxed in Canada.

Residency status

For income tax purposes, international students studying in Canada are considered to be one of the following types of residents:

  • resident (includes students who reside in Canada only part of the year);
  • non-resident;
  • deemed resident;
  • deemed non-resident.

Residency status is based on the residential ties you have with Canada.

What are residential ties?

Residential ties may include:

  • a home in Canada;
  • a spouse or common-law partner (see the definition in the General Income Tax and Benefit Guide) and dependants in Canada;
  • personal property in Canada, such as a car or furniture;
  • social ties in Canada.

Other ties that may be relevant include:

  • a Canadian driver's licence;
  • a Canadian bank account or credit cards;
  • health insurance with a Canadian province or territory.

For more information, see IT-221, Determination of an Individual's Residence Status.

If you would like an opinion about your residency status, complete and submit Form NR74, Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada).

Determining your residency status

In general, you probably have not established significant residential ties with Canada if you:

  • return to your home country on a periodic basis or for a significant amount of time in the calendar year; or
  • remove yourself to another country when not attending university in Canada.

However, many international students who study or carry on research in Canada do establish significant residential ties with Canada because they're often supported by Canadian-source grants that cover several years of study or research.

You are a resident of Canada for tax purposes if you establish significant residential ties with Canada.

You are a non-resident of Canada for tax purposes if you do not establish significant residential ties with Canada and you're here for less than 183 days during the year.

Deemed resident

If you do not establish significant residential ties with Canada, you may be a deemed resident of Canada for tax purposes if you:

  • stay in Canada for 183 days or more in a calendar year; and
  • are not considered a resident of your home country under the terms of a tax treaty between Canada and that country.

Your tax obligations

Your residency status determines your income tax return filing requirements in Canada:

  • If you entered Canada during the year and have established significant residential ties with Canada, follow the filing requirements for newcomers to Canada.
  • If you have not established significant residential ties and are not deemed to be a resident of Canada, follow the filing requirements for non-residents of Canada.
  • If you are a deemed resident of Canada, follow the filing requirements for deemed residents.