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Physical Presence Test

Jan 10 2017

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The physical presence test is one of two tests that can be used to qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.  The physical presence residence test is the easier threshold, but does require tracking of days in U.S.  You meet the physical presence test if you are physically present in a foreign country or countries 330 full days during a period of 12 consecutive months. The 330 qualifying days do not have to be consecutive. The physical presence test applies to both U.S. citizens and U.S. resident aliens.


The physical presence test is based only on how long you stay in a foreign country or countries. This test does not depend on the kind of residence you establish, your intentions about returning to the United States, or the nature and purpose of your stay abroad. However, your intentions with regard to the nature and purpose of your stay abroad are relevant in determining whether you meet the tax home test, as explained under Chapter 4 of Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.

330 Full Days

Generally, to meet the physical presence test, you must be physically present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 full days during the 12-month period. You can count days you spent abroad for any reason. You do not have to be in a foreign country only for employment purposes. You can be on vacation time.

You do not meet the physical presence test if illness, family problems, a vacation, or your employer's orders cause you to be present for less than the required amount of time. Also, if you are present in a foreign country in violation of U.S. law, you will not be treated as physically present in a foreign country while you were in violation of the law. Income that you earn from sources within such a country for services performed during a period of violation does not qualify as foreign earned income.

However, the minimum time requirement can be waived if you must leave a foreign country because of war, civil unrest, or similar adverse conditions in that country. You must be able to show that you reasonably could have expected to meet the minimum time requirements if not for the adverse conditions, and that you had a tax home in the foreign country and were a bona fide resident of, or physically present in, the foreign country on or before the beginning date of the waiver.

Full Day

A full day is a period of 24 consecutive hours, beginning at midnight. You must spend each of the 330 full days in a foreign country. When you leave the United States to go directly to a foreign country or when you return directly to the United States from a foreign country, the time you spend on or over international waters does not count toward the 330-day total.


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©2017 SDC, LLC
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.


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