Canadian retirees are fortunate to be a part of the western nation pantheon. By that I mean, they are fortunate to be citizens of a western country, which gives them a passport capable of visiting most of the world’s countries without a visa. By simply showing up in a foreign airport and presenting your passport, you can quickly have it stamped and gain temporary access to the vast majority of the world.
To stay any longer requires special permission. For a Canadian retiree, the prospect of spending the remainder of your days in a cold environment might be too much to bear. Countries in warmer climes realize this and offer the option of retirement visas. These visas are made with westerner retirees in mind as they require someone to be over a certain age (say 65 or older), and show proof a state backed pension like CPP that pays the equivalent of several hundred Canadian dollars per month.
Now not every country offers a retirement visa. For instance Canada and the United States do not. The United Kingdom does not. France, Spain and Italy however do. Most of Latin America does as well. You’ll have to do some research in this area to determine where you’ll want to live and where you’ll be most comfortable. Poorer countries will typically have less demanding requirements than wealthier ones for their retirement visas, but the move from a wealthy country (Canada) to a developing one (say, Mexico) could be jarring for some.
To get a retirement visa requires establishing contact with the nearest consulate or embassy of the country you are choosing to move to. You’ll have to show proof of citizenship (your passport), proof of pension, proof that you do not have a criminal past, and possibly proof that you will be purchasing private health care. In regards to the last requirement, no country wants an army of foreign retirees taxing its health care system so many countries demand that foreign retirees pay for their own health care. There will be fees associated with the process, but they usually are not too high (equivalent of several hundred Canadian dollars or Euros). The requirements will vary from country to country, but that is the general overview of getting a retirement visa.
If you qualify, your passport will be taken by the consulate/embassy and processed. You’ll then be given a large stamp in the passport that will act as your retirement visa. Usually these allow unlimited entrance and exits from the country, but they may require renewal at some point. It really depends on the country. If renewal is required, you’ll have to undergo the whole process all over again.
The first step in retiring abroad, getting a retirement visa, is usually the easiest part of the process. You still will have to move your belongings overseas, set up housing, and acclimatize yourself to new and foreign surroundings. It’s a long progression, but for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have moved indefinitely abroad for their retirement, particularly to warmer climes, it’s worth it!
Bio: Rick Todd writes on the various financial and investing issues facing western expats who choose to work and/or retire abroad. Feel free to read his blog at www.expatinvesting.org.