For those practicing in the United States, is it time to get out of the downpour of the past and ongoing U.S. financial storm? Whatever your reasons, making the move to Canada for lifestyle and professional reasons will be worth it; however, planning is required prior to your move to Canada. I made the move years ago and was glad I did.
The ease and requirements for this move will depend on whether you are a Canadian with or without an active dental license or if you are an American (or non-Canadian) with or without an active dental license.
Here are some of the obvious issues that must be dealt with before coming to Canada. Depending on your situation not all of these will apply to you.
2) Dental License
4) The Practice
5) Residency and Tax Issues
6) Cash Flow
7) The Economy
8) Dentistry in Canada vs. the U.S.
If you are a Canadian citizen or have a permanent landed immigration status, then immigration is not an issue. Just come back. However, if you are using a lender for financing, he/she will want proof that you are in Canada long enough to service the loans.
If you are not a Canadian or do not have permanent landed immigration status, then contact an experienced Canadian immigration attorney early in the process for the move to Canada and be prepared for extra costs and time.
This issue must be dealt with first. If you have an active dental license in the province you wish to practice in, you simply show this license to your lender to obtain financing.
If you have a dental license for a Canadian province but wish to practice in another Canadian province, contact the dental regulatory body in that province and find out what is needed to obtain that province’s dental license. If you do not have a dental license for a Canadian province, then contact the appropriate dental regulatory body to find out what is needed and be prepared for the extra costs and time to acquire the dental license.
Since the standard of care for dentistry is the same for Canada and the U.S., check to see if some degree of licensure reciprocity exists between the U.S. state that you have a license in and one of the Canadian provinces. If such reciprocity exists, then obtaining a license is easier and takes less time. Once you have that provincial license, check what is required for the provincial dental license that you need to practice in the province of your choice.
Before your financing will be approved, the lender will want to see proof of an active dental license for the province you will be practicing in and proof of your immigration status.
The financial climate in Canada for 100% financing for purchase of a dental practice is favorable and relatively easy to obtain. In my opinion, practice brokers are excellent sources for referrals to commercial bankers eager to handle such transactions. Also be sure to negotiate a generous credit line, especially when first starting in your practice as unexpected costs commonly occur especially in the beginning just after a purchase.
If you are living in the U.S. and trying to purchase a Canadian practice, you will not be able to act as fast as if you were living in Canada. Be prepared to make one or more trips to Canada to see different practices until you find the one you want. For general practices, when in a sellers’ market, time is of the essence and once you make your decision to buy, you will have to act quickly as multiple offers may be on a practice. This means you must have your contacts in place with respect to financing, legal, insurance, accounting before or shortly after contacting the practice broker. Contacting a practice owner that does not have a practice broker will add time and expense to the process. In a buyers’ market you will have more time to act; however, for a desirable practice, you are likely competing against other local buyers to acquire that practice.
For specialty practices no matter whether it is a sellers’ or buyers’ market, you will have more time to act compared to general practices simply because there are less suitable buyers for the specialty practices.
Residency and Tax Issues
Speak to your accountant about the best time to declare your Canadian residency for tax purposes. This step assumes you already have taken care of any immigration issues beforehand if that applies to you.
The name of the game here is cash flow especially when you are moving from another country to Canada. There will be additional foreseen and unforeseen expenses compared to if you already lived for a while in the province that you want to practice in. With enough cash flow, things that you did not like initially can be changed when you want to do so. An established practice allows for the immediate cash flow you will need.
You can change your house but you can’t change the neighborhood. Stated another way, there is nothing you can do to change the economy of the state or country you are in. If your patients are losing their jobs, homes and have less disposable income to spend on dentistry, then your income from dentistry will decrease significantly. Patients will postpone or simply refuse to do needed treatment resulting in a decline in your dental earnings. The economic difficulties in the U.S. will continue for some time.
Fortunately for Canadians, the economic downturn compared to U.S. was minor and will be much shorter than for those living in the U.S.. The standard of living is about the same in Canada and the U.S.
Dentistry in the U.S. and Canada
Basically, the standard of dentistry in the U.S. and Canada is the same. Anything you can get in the U.S., you can get in Canada. The only annoyance for the short term is learning the different tooth numbering system used in Canada.
There are many pleasant surprises for practicing dentistry in Ontario, Canada. Namely, the presence of PPO’s and HMO’s is insignificant in Ontario and fee for service, with or without insurance, is predominant. No more contractual huge discounts on your fees and much less insurance influence in your dental operation. In my opinion, these facts alone, regardless of the economy, are reasons enough to practice in Ontario and in any province that is similar to Ontario.
In summary, there are many issues to be aware of and managed before returning or coming to Canada to practice dentistry. To me, these are common sense issues and advisors like immigration lawyers, accountants, practice brokers and bankers will be required for this move. The dental license is up to you. Welcome/Bienvenue to Canada.
Bottom Line: This article contains advice to non-Canadian dentists who wish to move to Canada and start a dental practice.
Dr. Perry Shievitz has practiced dentistry in Toronto and Miami. His current practice is located in Woodbridge, Ontario and he can be reached at the following: Phone: 905.850.9864, Fax: 905.850.1704 or firstname.lastname@example.org