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 decided not to go to our home in Arizona this past winter due to COVID, but we did rent it out over the winter to cover some of our costs. This is the first time we have rented out our winter home and were wondering what the tax consequences are?

Answer

Tax Reporting in the U.S.

While Canadian snowbirds are tax residents of Canada, they must report U.S. rental income to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) if they rent their property out for 15 days or more per tax year. It should be reported on IRS Form 1040NR.

Unless you make a special election by filing IRS Form W-8ECI with your Form 1040NR, the IRS will levy withholding tax on your U.S. rental income. The withholding tax is 30% of the gross rental income.

Also, certain U.S. states require you to pay state-level tax on your rental income - you may be subject to both state and county and/or city level tax on your rental income.

It is always best to consult with tax professionals familiar with local law to ensure that you abide by all relevant legislation for your vacation rental.

Tax Reporting in Canada

U.S. source income must also be reported in Canada to the CRA. You will receive foreign tax credits from the CRA for the federal and state income tax that you pay in the United States. These foreign tax credits offset the tax owing in Canada, and if you receive sufficient foreign tax credits, you may be able to completely avoid double taxation.

Failing to report your rental income in both Canada and the U.S. can result in fines and hefty interest charges being added to any income tax that you should have previously paid.

You can learn more about taxes for Canadians when renting out your U.S. vacation home here.

Question

I am returning to Canada soon and understand that I have to take COVID tests both at the land border and during my 14 day quarantine. I have been told that in order to make the process smoother, I should pre-register with the COVID test provider before I return to Canada. Is this necessary?

Answer

You must create an account with your testing provider before taking your arrival test at the land border or airport, and while it is possible to register an account when you arrive at the land border or airport, creating your account in advance will save time and streamline the process.

Make sure you use the same email address you used for your ArriveCAN account.

Arriving by Land

Switch Health has been hired by the Public Health Agency of Canada to manage the COVID-19 testing and kits upon arrival at all land border crossings, as well as the self-administered COVID test you will be required to perform home on Day 8 of your 14 day quarantine.

You can create your account with Switch Health here.

Arriving by Air

For snowbirds returning by air, the following companies are managing testing upon arrival at the four airports currently open for international arrivals:

Switch Health has also been hired to manage the self-administered COVID test you will be required to perform home on Day 8 of your 14 day quarantine for all travellers arriving by air, with the exception of Alberta.

Self Administered Test on Day 8 of Your 14 Day Quarantine

Regardless of whether you arrive by land or air, you will be given a test kit to take a test at home on Day 8 of your 14 day quarantine. This must be done under the supervision of your testing provider.

There are many reports of long wait times on the Switch Health lines to take your Day 8 test, as well as delays in getting results - and even some tests going missing.

Be sure to keep a record of the number on your vials that you provide to Switch Health. This is the ONLY way that you can trace a missing test (they can’t trace your tests by your name).

The bad news is, if your Day 8 test is delayed or lost, you will have to remain in quarantine until you get the negative test results, which could mean you have to stay in quarantine for more than 14 days. 

More Information

You can get more information about COVID-19 testing when arriving in Canada and Day 8 testing during your 14 day quarantine here:

Driving to Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/driving-canada-checklist/covid-19-testing-travellers-driving#create-account

Flying to Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying-canada-checklist/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada?utm_campaign=gac-amc-covid-20-21&utm_source=travel-covid_travel-restrictions_flying_&utm_medium=redirect&utm_content=en#register

Question

I have heard there is an app called ArriveCAN that I need to use to provide information before travelling back to Canada.

Can you please provide more information about this app, how it works and if it is required?

Answer

ArriveCAN is a digital tool that enables travellers to submit essential information prior to arrival and after entry into Canada.

ArriveCAN is available as a mobile app that can be downloaded on Apple or Android devices. It is also available online through a computer. You can get more information about ArriveCAN and download the ArriveCAN app or access ArriveCAN online here

All individuals entering Canada by air or land are required to use ArriveCan to submit the following information:

Prior to arriving in Canada

Travellers are required to submit the following information through ArriveCAN before they board their flight or before arrival at a land border crossing:

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessment
  • if travelling by air, provide the trip reference code for your hotel quarantine reservation

Once you submit your information through ArriveCAN a receipt will be displayed and emailed to you.

Upon arrival in Canada

When you arrive in Canada, you will be required to show your ArriveCAN receipt to a Canadian border services officer. You can show your ArriveCAN receipt via the following methods:

  • the app
  • as a screenshot
  • your email
  • a printout

After you arrive in Canada

The day after you arrive in Canada, all travellers must submit the following information through ArriveCAN:

  • confirm that you've arrived at a government-authorized hotel or the address you provided for your quarantine or isolation location
  • complete daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessments until the completion of your quarantine period or until you report symptoms
Question

I had COVID and recovered while I was away this winter and will be flying back to Canada soon.

I have heard that people who have had COVID and recovered are exempt from having to stay in a quarantine hotel when returning to Canada. Is this true?

Answer

If you have had COVID and recovered, you are exempt from both the COVID test upon arrival in Canada and the mandatory hotel quarantine if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are travelling to Canada by air (individuals travelling to Canada by land are not subject to the mandatory hotel quarantine)
  • You tested positive for COVID-19 between 14 and 90 days prior to the day you arrive in Canada.
  • Every person in your party over the age of 5 must be able to produce a POSITIVE Covid PCR test from when you had COVID, showing the date on which you tested positive. 

Details about the exemption from arrival testing can be found on the Government of Canada website here.

Details about the exemption from the hotel quarantine requirement can be found on the Government of Canada website here under “Already Exempt from the requirement of having to undergo arrival testing”

Question

My wife and I own a home in Florida and have been here since November. We have both been vaccinated and were wondering if this would exempt us from the new COVID travel restrictions and testing that have been introduced?

Answer

Last Updated: February 5, 2021

At this time, being vaccinated does not exempt you from any of the following travel restrictions or COVID testing requirements that have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented by the Canadian and U.S. governments:

Travelling to Canada

  • Pre-arrival COVID testing
  • COVID Testing upon arrival in Canada
  • Mandatory Hotel Quarantine Requirement upon arrival
  • 14 Day Quarantine Requirement upon arrival

Travelling to the United States

  • Pre-arrival COVID testing
  • Quarantine upon arrival (currently recommended by the CDC but expected to become mandatory soon)
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.