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On Jan. 1, the Government of Canada’s Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act came into effect.

The new law aims to prevent non-Canadians and corporations controlled by non-Canadians from purchasing some, but not all, residential property in Canada in 2023 & 2024.

The Federal Government hopes the Act will expand real estate supply and make homes more affordable for Canadians.   

But considering the law’s geographic restrictions and its plentiful list of exemptions (both outlined below), I predict the impact on Canada’s housing market will be very limited.

Another last-minute addition to the guidelines is problematic and unfair to those folks on work permits. A new restriction requires buyers on a work permit must wait at least three years to purchase a home, and the buyer must show three years Canadian tax returns to qualify. Our government will let folks into the country to work, pay taxes, but must wait at least three years to buy a house. We are trying to determine if this restriction applies outside the restricted geographic area. Hmmm.

Here is when, where and how the law applies.

 Where does the ban on foreign homebuyers apply?

The new Act applies to residential properties in a census metropolitan area or a census agglomeration as defined by Statistics Canada 2021. These areas are:

Census Metropolitan Areas (A-Z)

Abbotsford-Mission                    Kelowna                                         Saguenay
Barrie                                             Kingston                                        Saint John
Brantford                                      Lethbridge                                    Sherbrooke
Calgary                                         London                                         St Catharines - Niagara
Chilliwack                                    Moncton                                         St. John's
Drummondville                          Montreal                                         Thunder Bay
Edmonton                                   Nanaimo                                        Toronto
Fredericton                                  Oshawa                                           Trois-Rivieres
Greater Sudbury                         Ottawa-Gatineau                          Vancouver
Guelph                                          Peterborough                                 Victoria
Halifax                                          Quebec                                            Windsor
Hamilton                                      Red Deer                                        Winnipeg
Kamloops                                     Regina            

Census Agglomerations (A-Z)

Granby                                       North Bay                                       Sarnia
Grande Prairie                       Prince George                                Sault Ste Marie
Medicine Hat                          Saint Hyacinthe                             Wood Buffalo

To which property types does the ban apply?

The prohibition on foreign buyers applies only to residential properties as described below.

The Act defines residential property as buildings with three homes or less, as well as parts of buildings like a semi-detached house or a condominium unit. Examples of such residential properties include:

  • Detached homes or similar buildings
  • Semi-detached homes, rowhouse units, residential condo units or similar unit  types
  • Vacant land that is zoned for residential or mixed use

The law does not prohibit the purchase of properties with 4 or more residential units.

The ban also does not seem to apply to Type A or B vacation properties, such as cottages, vacation homes, or lake houses.

Which non-Canadians might be exempt from the ban?

Certain criteria must be met in all the below scenarios. To see the full list of exemption criteria, visit

Which non-Canadians might be exempt from the ban?

Certain criteria must be met in all the below scenarios. To see the full list of exemption criteria, visit

  • Those in Canada with temporary work permits, note new three-year requirement
  • International students
  • Refugees and refugee claimants fleeing international crisis
  • Accredited members of foreign missions to Canada
  • Non-Canadians with a spouse or common law partner who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, person registered under the Indian Act, or a refugee

What documentation can non-Canadians use to show they are exempt?

Non-Canadians can show the following documents to demonstrate compliance. These proof points may be required in a mortgage application

  • Work or study permit
  • Verification of status issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Other documents that show they live in Canada (for example, rental agreements, utility bills, or records of travel in and out of the country)