ETF Investing While Living Abroad


New Member
Hi all,

I am an Irish citizen currently living in Canada. I am a permanent resident here but it is likely that I will move home to Ireland eventually, this could be 2 years down the line or maybe even 5+ years.

I have a lump sum of about 50k euro that i want to invest and also want to start putting away money for the future/retirement, however i am worried about the tax requirements once i return to ireland. In Canada people have access to two tax sheltered investment accounts called TFSA and RRSP. There is a slight difference between them in that for the TFSA you can contribute around CAD 5,000 annually using after tax income and then any gains, dividends etc. will be tax free.

For the RRSP (designed for pensions) it is slightly different, as you contribute gross income before tax (up to 18% of gross salary i think), and then investments are allowed to grow tax fee as long as they stay in the RRSP account. However, tax is only deferred and you have to pay tax at your marginal rate on any funds you withdraw from the RRSP down the line.

Investments in both accounts can be self directed with freedom to basically invest in any kind of assets you want. I am looking to use mine to invest in US and Canadian ETFs.

As long as I stay in Canada these will grow tax free. However, once i return to Ireland i assume that revenue will not recognize the tax free status and income as well as gains will be taxed.

I am wondering if it would be worth it to use these investment vehicles for ETFs while I am in Canada? Has anyone had any experience of using similar schemes while abroad and encountered taxation issues when returning to Ireland?

Are there any other ETF investment strategies that people have used while living abroad for a period?

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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Frequent Poster
You should take advice in Canada for the most suitable course of action while resident in Canada. There are different tax treatments of US ETFs for Canadian Tax depending on if these are held inside or outside a pension for example.

If you inherit while Canadian resident, a Canadian "in-bound trust" might be required etc etc

Then refer that advice to an Irish adviser and establish if the Canadian advice should or indeed can be unwound when you leave Canada or if there are some advantages to holding onto some or all of those positions from an Irish perspective. Can you transfer a Canadian pension to the EU for example?

At least 6 months before returning to Ireland and before the end of December the year before returning, you should seek specialist tax advice.

When I moved to Ireland from the UK I sold all my UK assets (except my cars) before moving which gave me a clean slate in Ireland from a taxation perspective. You might find that holding onto some Canadian investments could work better for you. It all depends

Marc Westlake
Chartered Certified and European Financial Planner