MSI and Traveling

I’ve been wondering for awhile what the real deal is with MSI (Nova Scotia health coverage) when you travel. I did a little research on the internet and found a semi-useful link and then I called MSI to get a better explanation. I got through right away with no hold time and when one person couldn’t answer all of my questions, someone else got back to me right away!

Here’s the low-down on what I found out for Aug 1st, 2014 going forward.

• You can use a PO Box for mailing, but you must also provide a civic address WITHIN Nova Scotia. There are no exceptions for this, so be prepared to give a friend or family member’s residential address if you don’t actually have a home of your own. It cannot be a business address.
• You should call MSI to tell them of your travels outside of Province or Country any time you are leaving for 30 days or more. If there is a claim on your account, they will need to contact you before processing it if you haven’t already advised them of your travels.
• Everything is based on you being WITHIN Nova Scotia for a minimum of 152 days per calendar year.
• The 152 days do not have to be consecutive, just all within the same calendar year.
• You can email your travel details to them at any time: msi at You can also use this if you need to contact MSI while you are traveling.
• You can be granted a one year (12 consecutive months) temporary absence for work / volunteer purposes. This is allowed only once every six years.
• In addition to the one-year temporary absence, you can get an additional one-year work absence, but does require a contract with MSI stating that you are returning to NS as your permanent residence.
• Without one of the above temporary absences, if you are out of province for more than 152 days in a calendar year, your MSI can be revoked and leave you with no provincial coverage. That means when you are in Nova Scotia, you will have to pay for everything – doctor visit, x-rays etc. Most of us take this for granted and we shouldn’t!

Travel Insurance companies require you to have provincial coverage before they sell you a travel medical policy. You don’t see it, but if you have a medical claim while you are away your Travel Insurance Company corresponds with MSI (or your provincial coverage) to figure out who pays what. MSI pays very little, but to an Insurance Company, that little is better than nothing!

If you do not have provincial coverage, then you have to get a different type of insurance depending on your circumstances. This could be Visitors to Canada insurance (if you are a permanent resident elsewhere and just visiting here for a period of time), or it might be expat’s insurance, for people who live and work abroad for longer than 12 – 18 months.

For my upcoming travels, it looks something like this.

2014 – Must be in Nova Scotia for total of 152 days (away = 213 days available)
January – 8 days – Mexico
April – 21 days – Asia
September / October – 40 days – Europe
November / December – 51 days – South America / Dominican Republic
Total out of province for 2014: 120 days (max is 213)
Total consecutive 2014 – 51 days (max is 213)

So, for 2014, I’m all-good!

Now, because I will be traveling into 2015, things get a little complicated. You can still only be away for a total of seven consecutive months, even if it spans two different calendar years. So, if I leave November 13, 2014 I must return to Nova Scotia within 213 days, which takes me to approximately June 10, 2015. This means that I MUST return to Nova Scotia on or before then in order to keep my provincial coverage active.

If I were away from Jan 1 – June 12, 2015 that will use up 163 of my 213 available ‘Away’ days. That means from June 13, 2015 until Dec 31, 2015 I can travel for an additional 50 days out of province. So, if I were to stay away until June 12, 2015, I wouldn’t be able to leave until November for another long trip, and that’s if I don’t leave the province between June and November!

What I think will likely happen is that I’ll come home to Nova Scotia sometime in late March or April, stay until May – do a few weeks away for a photo tour, then be home for June – October – Departing again in November for the next big adventure. This all depends on how well business goes while traveling in the next few months!

I hope this helps demystify how long you are able to be out of the country for. If not, I am not a guru, so I suggest you contact MSI to talk over your specific details with them for further clarification.

2 Replies to “MSI and Traveling”

  1. This was a really helpful post, Shari, thanks! It never occurred to me to check on that, or that MSI would even cover ANYTHING while I was away (even if only a teensy bit.). I’ll be saving this post. Thanks. 🙂 I enjoy reading about all of your adventures!

    1. Glad it was useful! I’ve had lots of comments all over the place about it. Apparently not many people know much about it, they are just traveling and assuming someone will pay if they get sick, but that’s just not the case.

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