Canadian Snowbirds heading to the United States
How long can Canadians stay in the U.S.?
Usually a maximum of 182 days, or about six months during a 12-month period. Those days can be amassed during one trip or they could be the sum of several trips.
Did You Know ?
That any part of a day counts as one day; being a good friend and dropping someone off at the Buffalo, Detroit or other U.S. airport, even if only over for an hour, counts as one day.
That if you leave on a cruise from a U.S. Port and return to a U.S. Port within 30 days that all those days count towards your 182 annual days regardless as to how many countries you may have visited during the cruise.
That if you return to Canada for less than 30 days during your Snowbird "vacation" period you are considered to still be in the U.S. and those back-in-Canada days are still counted in your 182 annual days.
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. There are exemptions available for students, teachers and diplomats, and for someone who is unable to leave because they develop a medical condition while in the U.S., but for serious snowbirds, the best strategy for maintaining non-resident status is filing out that IRS form, the "Closer Connection Exemption Statement for Aliens" better known to snowbirds as Form 8840.
Snowbirds establish their closer connection to Canada through things like having a permanent home, personal belongings, affiliations, family, business, driver's licence and having voted in Canada.
The form needs to be filed with the IRS every year snowbirds spend time in the U.S.
How long can snowbirds be away from Canada and keep their provincial health insurance?
B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia require at least five months of residence in the province to continue health insurance coverage. Newfoundland and Labrador requires only four months.
The other provinces and territories require six months' residency, but Quebec does not count trips of less than 21 days as non-residency.
Some provinces will allow longer absences under some circumstances or if a written request made by the resident is approved.
To get provincial health benefits back after losing them usually requires living in the province for three months, at which point coverage begins again.
How can snowbirds maintain their home insurance coverage in Canada while they are away?
That also depends on the individual policy, but in general, most require extra measures by a resident away for a long trip. If no one is living in the house after the snowbirds fly away, some insurers require someone (a family member or acquaintance) to regularly do a walk-through or check the property.
Links to US and Canadian Forms...
General Information www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/substantial-presence-test
US Tax Guide for Aliens www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf
Form 8840 www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8840.pdf
Do you have a "Border Kit" prepared?
If you are crossing the border and there might be questions about which country you have a closer connection to you might want to keep a few things in a file to make it a little easier for you.
* Copy of your Property Tax form for your main home in Canada
* Copy of a utility bill
* Copy of your Canadian Tax Returns (although we don't carry them)
* Copy of your filed 8840 Form
* Calendar with your travel dates, showing when you have entered and left the United States.