Snowbird Lifestyle and Travel Insurance
Many snowbirds are still enjoying the comfort of their winter homes. Though travels to the United States presented economic challenges for travelling Canadians, there is a silver lining to this news.
A record number of Canadians have purchased properties in America, spending approximately $19 billion USD from mid-2016 to mid-2017, based on data released by the National Association of Realtors, a community of Realtors and real estate specialists based in the United States. This is the highest recorded overall property expenditure for Canadians. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the Canadian dollar traded at 80 cents, increasing by 10 per cent since the second quarter of last year. Months ago, the Canadian dollar was the top performing major currency in the world.
No one can foretell the future but such progressive signs were like beacons of hope for snowbirds who had to travel overseas before winter is in full swing. While we are on the subject of travelling down south to the United States, here are some reminders to take note of the next time you plan to enter the country’s borders.
Maximum Length of Stay
In the name of tourism, Canadians may spend not more than 182 days in the United States within a period of 12 months (around six months in total). Your 12-month period starts counting right after you are admitted to the U.S. borders. It will end the year thereafter. For instance, if you crossed the border on March 1st of this year, your 12-month period will end on February 28 of next year.
The U.S. immigration reserves the right to grant you entrance. Border access is subject to their discretion. Should you return to the country after leaving for Canada or joining a cruise elsewhere for less than a month, the days you departed the U.S. may be added to your 182-day length of stay. At their discretion, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection may decide that there is no sufficient cause for stopping the clock even if you exited the country for several days.
Err on the Side of Caution
The Canadian Snowbird Association advises travellers to treat short-term departures as part of their six-month stay in the United States. It pays to plan your itinerary properly so that there is no need to exit and enter the country several times while your 182-day privilege is still in force. Check whether you have the right travel insurance with you just in case there is a need to raise a medical claim.
Travellers to the United States must have a passport with validity of up to six months prior to the date of departure. This rule does not apply to Canadians, where validity is only for the duration of their trip. For instance, if they plan to remain in the country for 90 days, their passports must be valid 90 days before departure date. However, if your itinerary covers other countries besides the U.S., check the passport requirements of all countries included in your itinerary because each country has a different set of requirements.
Volunteering in the U.S.
Before the snowbird season commenced, CSA received calls from members asking about volunteer community service in the United States. Travellers granted entry may volunteer in the community as long as no pay or compensation is received from their services except maybe for free meals, refreshments and freebies given in lieu of actual money. Volunteer work must comply with the definition and standards of “volunteering.” As a tourist in the U.S., you cannot work in the country without a work permit even if you were paid in cash, cheque or any benefit that can be exchanged for money.
Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations
Watch out for the 2018 CSA tour, which will be held in more cities across Canada. Admission to these shows are free. There will be accompanying music. The event will share a wide range of information about the snowbird lifestyle including preferred travel insurance for seniors. Feel free to ask questions and we will do our best to provide you with the information you need.