Before You Migrate South: Tips for Snowbirds


Canada’s winters can be extremely harsh, so it is little wonder that so many of its citizen head south, just like its famous geese, for the winter. However, before you join the hoards of snowbirds flocking to the southern U.S. to enjoy some warm, sunny weather, there are a few things you should know.

Length of Stay

According to the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website, Canadians are allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of 182 days, approximately six months, during every twelve-month period. Be very careful when determining how long you have stayed in the United States. Every day you have entered the U.S. during a 12-month calendar year will count towards your total number of days.

Why is the number of days you stay in the United States important? Because if you go over the six-month threshold, you will be liable to pay taxes in both Canada and the United States, which could be a huge financial burden, especially for snowbirds, who are typically retired senior citizens.

Supplementary Medical Insurance

If you are a snowbird who is planning to spend an extended period of time in the United States, you should definitely look into purchasing supplementary travel medical insurance. While your Canadian provincial health plan does provide some minimal medical coverage for travelers, it does not cover nearly as much as you will more than likely need if you were to get in an accident or get sick while in the United States.

Although you may be tempted to try and save money by not purchasing supplementary medical insurance, don’t do it. You will definitely regret this decision later if you should get injured or sick while in the United States. Hospital bills in the U.S. are exorbitant and you could quickly find yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before you know what hit you.

In addition, your premiums for a supplementary health-care plan can usually be claimed on your tax return as a medical expense.

Check Your Provincial Health Plan Coverage

Before shopping for supplementary health plan insurance, check with your province or territory to see what out-of-the country medical expenses your provincial health plan covers. That way you will know exactly what type of additional coverage you will need.

What to Look For in a Supplementary Medical Insurance

You should look over any supplementary health insurance policy carefully before committing to one. Some plans may not cover pre-existing conditions.

If you are a snowbird who migrates south on a regular basis, try to find a company that can offer you annual multi-trip coverage.

The snowbird lifestyle is a wonderful one that allows you to enjoy the best of both the United States and Canada. It is always important, however, to take the necessary steps to ensure that your travels won’t end up costing you in the long run.

Gene Troller is a travel writer who read up on snowbird travel tips before taking his vacation.

Submitted by Marie Chan


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