Canadian snowbirds: Rules you need to know

A Canada-U.S. agreement is in the works to share information on who’s entering each respective country, and when, for example. The Entry Exit Initiative already covers non-citizens of the two countries, but the plan to start covering citizens as well has been delayed.

Once that’s in effect, the U.S. government will be able to easily check whether snowbirds overstay their welcome.

The Canada Border Services Agency cautions that legislative and regulatory changes need to happen before that can be implemented, and says it will provide additional information about the timing “in due course.”

There have also been initiatives in Congress over the last few years to extend the time some Canadians can spend in the U.S.

While those proposals are still being debated by American legislators, Canadian snowbirds continue to head to the U.S. in droves under the current rules, which have been in place for some time.

Here’s a short checklist for snowbirds about the rules on visas, taxation, insurance, and so on.

How long can Canadians stay in the U.S.?

Usually a maximum of 182 days, or about six months during a 12-month period.

How long can a Canadian stay in the U.S. without paying U.S. taxes?

The American Internal Revenue Service has a complicated way of determining this, and a form that may let snowbirds off the hook.

Complete the form and you can spend the full 182 days in the U.S. without paying U.S. income tax.

How long can snowbirds be away from Canada and keep their provincial health insurance?

The short answer is – it depends on your Province, so be sure to check.

What are the rules for snowbirds buying supplemental travel health insurance?

The key things to watch for are issues around pre-existing conditions and the limitations and exclusions of the coverage.

How can snowbirds maintain their home insurance coverage in Canada while they are away?

It depends on the individual policy, but in general, most require extra measures by a resident away for a long trip.

What happened to the proposal to extend the limit for some Canadians to 240 days?

At least twice in recent years, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress, but not passed, to extend the length-of-stay limit to 240 days for Canadian citizens over 50 years old and their spouses.



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