Ask Snowbird Advisor

Ask Snowbird Advisor is a forum where we provide answers to some of the most common and interesting questions we receive from Snowbird Advisor members that we feel will be of interest to other members.

Answered Questions

Bringing pets to the U.S. from Canada

07/08/2019
Q:

We are new snowbirds who just retired. We'll be driving down to Mesa where we have rented a house for the upcoming winter and will be bringing our dog. What do we need to do to bring our dog across the border with us?

A:
First of all, your pet must be healthy, look healthy and be well groomed or it can be turned away. It is required that all pets...

Should Canadian snowbirds get NEXUS cards?

07/08/2019
Q:

We have been spending the past few winters in the U.S. and everyone keeps telling us we should get NEXUS cards. Is it really worth it?

A:
While everyone's situation is different, the short answer is generally YES! The NEXUS program allows members to travel between...

Do OHIP Changes affect my private travel insurance coverage?

05/23/2019
Q:

I’ve heard that when OHIP stops coverage for out-of-country medical expenses, my private travel insurance policy won’t cover me either because one of the eligibility requirements is that I need to be covered by OHIP for out-of-country medical expenses.

This doesn’t seem right. Is it true?

A:
The short answer is no, this is NOT true. Private travel medical insurance plans simply require you to be covered by OHIP (or the...

What is the filing deadline for IRS Form 8840?

05/23/2019
Q:

My husband and I have been advised that we should file a Form 8840 with the IRS to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. When do we need to file this form? 

A:
The filing deadline for IRS Form 8840 - also known as the Closer Connection Exemption - is June 15 for the previous calendar year....

U.S. Real Estate Ownership Structures

05/08/2019
Q:

My husband and I are considering buying a winter home in Arizona and a friend told us that we should set up an LLC in the U.S. to own the property. Is this the best option for owning U.S. property?

A:
While LLCs (Limited Liability Companies) may be a good structure for Americans to own real estate, they are often NOT the best...

Are there different U.S. residency rules for Canadian snowbirds?

04/08/2019
Q:

I’ve heard there are different rules for how long Canadians can stay in the U.S. for immigration purposes and for tax purposes. Can you explain the difference please?

A:
You are correct, there are two different sets of rules – one for tax purposes and one for immigration purposes. A common...

How do Canadians pay for gas at the pump in the U.S.?

04/08/2019
Q:

When I try to pay for gas at the pump in the U.S with a credit card, it asks me for my zip code. As a  Canadian, I don’t have a zip code. I have heard there’s a “trick” to get around this issue but haven’t been able to find any details. Do you know anything about this?

A:
Yes, there is a workaround you can use the often works: When asked for your zip code, simply enter the three numbers of the...

How do travel medical insurance claim payments work?

03/13/2019
Q:

If I need medical treatment while travelling, will I have to cover the expenses out of pocket and claim them later, or will my travel insurance provider pay them directly? I have heard conflicting information about this.

A:
First and foremost, whenever possible you should contact your travel medical insurance provider before seeking medical treatment,...

What food items can I bring back to Canada?

03/13/2019
Q:

We will be driving home to Canada from California soon. We love the food down here including the fresh fruits and vegetables. Can you please let us know what we are allowed to bring back to Canada in terms of food?  

A:
Generally speaking, you can bring limited quantities of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat products and some other food items across...

Is the flu shot different in Canada and the U.S.?

02/11/2019
Q:

I’ve been wondering if I should get the flu shot in Florida rather than the Canadian one since I spend most of the winter down there. Is there a difference?

A:
We consulted with several medical professionals and learned that the flu shot is the same throughout North America – and indeed,...

I-75 Detroit construction status update

02/11/2019
Q:

We are travelling to Florida shortly and wanted to know if the construction on I-75 around Detroit is finished or are there still detours?

A:
We are happy to report that the planned construction over the past two years in the southbound lanes of I-75 in Michigan is now...

How long can I be away and not lose my Provincial health coverage?

01/02/2019
Q:

My husband and I have both just retired and are beginning our snowbird lifestyle. I have heard that we could lose our provincial health insurance coverage if we spend too much time outside Canada.

My question is this: Is there a limit to how long we can be away and still retain our OHIP coverage in Ontario?

A:
Yes, there is a limit in each province for how long you can be away without being at risk of losing your health coverage. For...

Bringing medical marijuana to the U.S.

01/02/2019
Q:

I take medical marijuana and cannabis oil for various health conditions. These medications really help me a lot. Can I bring them with me to my winter home in the U.S. since they are for medical purposes?

A:
Unfortunately for you and other Canadians who depend on using cannabis products for medical reasons, cannabis remains illegal...

Disclaimer: The material provided on the SnowbirdAdvisor.ca website is for informational purposes only and does NOT constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, real estate or other advice, and should not be relied on as such. If you require such advice, you should retain a qualified professional to advise you.