Snowbird FAQs

Snowbird FAQs 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.

COVID-19
Question

We purchased tickets to fly down to Florida, but the airline has already changed our flight schedule twice since we booked and our direct flight has been changed to a connecting flight through Atlanta - why does this keep happening and can they keep making changes?

Answer

Due to COVID-19, far fewer people than usual are flying at the moment. This has forced airlines to consolidate flights to make them financially viable, which can result in schedule changes, and in some cases, re-routing of flights.

Unfortunately, this is likely to continue happening until more people are flying and airlines can plan their route schedules with more certainty.

In the meantime, air travellers will have to live with the fact that their flight schedules may change quickly, and sometimes more than once, so be sure to monitor your scheduled flights regularly and be prepared that your flight times and dates might change.

Snowbirds should also be prepared that this could also happen on their return flights back to Canada at the end of the season if air travel hasn’t picked up by then.

Question

I've heard that some Canadians are driving their cars down to their winter homes and getting around the current U.S. border closure by giving fake reasons to border officers about why their travel is essential.

Is this actually happening? If so, what are the consequences if you get caught lying at the border?

Answer

We have heard anecdotal stories about individuals trying to cross the border (some successfully, some unsuccessfully) by lying about the nature of their travel so it would qualify as "essential". However, we have not been able to verify any of these stories yet.

Be aware that even if you don't get caught lying at the border, both the U.S. and Canada are sending officials to follow up on people after they cross the border to confirm that the reason and circumstances they provided for crossing the border are in fact true. 

If you are caught giving false information to U.S. border officials, you could be banned from the U.S. for a period of 5 years or more.

The bottom line - lying to any customs or border official is always a very bad idea - and especially now while the Canada-U.S. border is closed to all non-essential travel.

Question

My husband and I have heard that some U.S. states are requiring Canadians to quarantine when they travel to the United States. Is this true?

Answer

As of October 1st, 2020, there was no official requirement at the state level for visitors to quarantine when arriving in popular snowbird states Florida, Arizona, California and Texas.

However, this could change at any time so you should always check official sites before you go.

Also, it's important to be aware that just because there is no quarantine requirement at the state level, there may be local requirements at the city or county level, or in specific communities such as RV parks or golf & country club communities, so it's best to check with the management of your community before you go.

Question

I am following the Canadian government's travel restrictions closely as I hope to be able to drive to Florida at some point this winter.

However, I am a little unclear about the U.S. Border Closure and the government Travel Advisory. Are they the same thing or are they unrelated?

Answer

The Canada/U.S.Land Border Closure, which prohibits "non-essential" travel by land between Canada and the U.S. and the Government of Canada Level 3 Travel Advisory, which advises Canadians against all non-essential travel to virtually ALL countries in the world (as of October 1st, 2020) are NOT tied together

For example, the land border restrictions could be lifted or modified while the Level 3 travel advisory remains in place. Conversely, the travel advisory could be modified or reduced to Level 2 while the land border could remain closed.

Normally, travel advisories are country or even region specific. This one is unique in that it applies to virtually everywhere. Eventually, the travel advisories will likely be modified to warn of the specific level of risk in a country or region.

Question

My husband and I own a home in Florida and are considering driving down for the winter.

We know the Canada - U.S. border is currently closed due to COVID-19, but I have heard that there may be an exemption allowing Canadians who own real estate in the U.S. to drive across the border.

Is this true?

Answer

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation circulating about this topic, with rumours spreading that Canadians who own property in the U.S. are exempt from current land border travel restrictions and are allowed to drive across the border if they are travelling to their property in the U.S.

However, these rumours are not true.

While it is possible that this policy may change in the future, as of September 21, 2020:

  1. There is no exemption allowing Canadians who own U.S. property to drive across the border while travel restrictions are in place, and
  2. Travel for the purpose of visiting a property you own on the U.S. has not been deemed to be "essential travel" by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. agencies responsible for overseeing the Canada/U.S. land border closure.

You can get updates about the Canada/U.S. land border closure here.

NOTE: The information provided on this page is intended for Canadian citizens and permanent residents

Disclaimer: The material provided on the SnowbirdAdvisor.ca website is for informational purposes only and does NOT constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, real estate, medical 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.