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Canadian Snowbirds: Tips for Extended Visits to the United States

by Susan Quilty on 89 Comments

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Snowbirds are retirees who migrate with the seasons

Snowbirds are retirees who migrate with the seasons

Every winter, active adult snowbirds flock from northern climates to America’s warmer southern regions. While many of these retirees are coming from the northern United States, some of them hail from neighboring Canada.

Though Canadian snowbirds share much in common with their American counterparts, crossing the border brings additional concerns. Doug Gordon is one Canadian snowbird who has been wintering in the United States for the past eight years. While Doug and his wife have enjoyed their winter visits to Arizona and California, they are careful not to stay longer than the allowed 182 days per year. If they were to exceed this limit, they would be required to pay taxes in both countries.

Like many snowbirds, Doug acknowledges, “[The taxes] would be a kind contribution for allowing us to hunker down under the wonderful California sun for the winter, but we choose to count the days.” While they can appreciate the reasons behind the laws, double taxation is a cost that most snowbirds cannot afford. Fortunately, these extra taxes can be avoided by staying only as long as allowed by law.

Canadians who visit the United States for less than 30 days in a calendar year are simple “visitors” and do not have to worry about taxes. If a Canadian’s visit extends more than 182 days in a calendar year, he is considered a “resident alien” for tax purposes and must file a regular U.S. tax return. Canadian snowbirds whose visits fall between 30 and 183 days in a single calendar year still may meet the criteria for having a “substantial presence” in the United States.

Having a “substantial presence” does not necessarily mean that snowbirds will be required to pay U.S. Taxes. They will need to file Form 8840 Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Failure to file this form could result in hefty fines, even if no taxes were owed.

There is a simple formula to determine if a Canadian visitor meets the criteria for a “substantial presence”: Add the number of days visited during the current calendar year, plus 1/3 of the days visited in the previous year, and 1/6 of the days visited in the year before that. Let’s say a Canadian couple visited the United States for 130 days in 2009, 120 days in 2008, and 120 days in 2007. They would add 130 days, plus 40 days (1/3 of 120), plus 20 days (1/6 of 120 days) for a total of 190 days. Since this is more than 182 days, the couple would meet the criteria for a “substantial presence” and be required to file Form 8840 with the IRS.

When Canadians purchase a winter home in the United States, the tax laws can be complex, especially when the home is rented out while the homeowner is away. Before purchasing a home, Canadians should become familiar with the tax laws that will affect their ownership both in the United States and in Canada. If a homeowner dies while retaining ownership, his winter home will also be subject to U.S. estate tax laws.

Like most Canadian snowbirds, Doug and his wife recognize the need to plan for medical care or emergencies while visiting the United States. Doug’s approach will likely sound familiar to other visiting snowbirds: “We purchase travel insurance before leaving, visit urgent care if needed, or get on a plane and get home if necessary.”

Travel medical insurance is an important consideration when Canadians plan an extended visit to the United States. Though it certainly helps to have a physical examination and fill prescriptions before leaving Canada, travelers should be prepared for illnesses or accidents that may come up during the visit. Travel medical insurance will help protect visiting snowbirds from the high costs of an uninsured emergency or urgent care visit.

As they will be wintering in another country, Canadian snowbirds must also consider currency exchange rates. It’s best to plan ahead when exchanging currency. By watching the rates as they change, Canadians can purchase U.S. Dollars to their advantage.

Though there are additional considerations, many Canadian snowbirds enjoy wintering in the United States each year. The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) is a not-for-profit organization that offers a wealth of information to educate and support Canadian travelers. Members can also enroll in the Snowbird Currency Exchange Program, join the CSA Auto Club, or find information about recommended travel medical insurance.

Through organizations like the Canadian Snowbird Association, information found online, and the help of fellow travelers, Canadian snowbirds can learn how to accomplish their dreams of wintering in a warm climate. With a little planning, it is easy for snowbirds to divide their time between two homes, even if those homes happen to be in different countries.

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  1. Your article is a little confusing in that it mentions having to pay taxes in both the USA and Canada if snowbirds stay longer than 182 days. This implies that Canadians are allowed to stay in the USA longer than 182 days. As a recent retiree with financial and property ties to Canada, and a motorhome, I love spending the winter in Florida or Arizona. However, I would also love to be able to explore other parts of the USA during the summer but that would put me way over the 182 days allowed in a year and possibly jeopardize a future trip south for the winter.

    All my research with US Immigration authorities indicates that while Canadians are not technically required to have a B2 visitor visa (max 6 month stay), they are in fact treated as B2 visitors and limited to 182 days regardless if they meet the substantial presence test or not. Does anyone know if there is a legal way around the 182 days max stay rule? Just looking for sun and sand and am willing to spend some of my pension income in the USA to get it.


    1. Yes, you may stay for 6 months only, however, a return to Canada (even just for a day or part of it) allows you another 6 months’ stay. Please keep in mind that you likely need to demonstrate “significant ties” to Canada.
      See excerpt from Dept. of Homeland Security

      U.S. CBP INFO Center Border Protection
      Securing America’s Borders

      Visiting the U.S. – Documents required for CanadianCitizens / Residents / Landed Immigrant to enter the U.S. and how long they can stay?

      Canadian Citizens’ passports are NOT required to be valid for six months past their intended date of departure. Their passports must only be valid up until the date of their intended departure.
      All Canadian Citizens entering the United States by AIR are required to present a valid passport, or an Air NEXUS card when departing from a designated Canadian airport.
      • By Land and Sea (including ferries) – Canadian citizens traveling to the U.S. by land or sea are required to present one of the travel documents listed below, and may generally visit the U.S. for up to six months. CBP will accept: Canadian passport, Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card,NEXUS, FAST/EXPRES and SENTRI enrolment cards.

      Residents of Canada who are landed immigrants generally need a passport and visa to enter the United States, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

      The burden of proof that the Canadian citizen is not an intended immigrant (plans to make the U.S. their primary residence) is always on the applicant. There is no set period of time Canadians must wait to reenter the U.S. after the end of their stay, but if it appears to the CBP Officer that the person applying for entry is spending more time over-all in the U.S. than in Canada, it will be up to the traveler to prove to the officer that they are not de-facto U.S. residents. One of the ways to do this is demonstrate significant ties to their home country, including proof of employment, residency, etc.

      1. QUOTE:Yes, you may stay for 6 months only, however, a return to Canada (even just for a day or part of it) allows you another 6 months’ stay. Please keep in mind that you likely need to demonstrate “significant ties” to Canada.
        See excerpt from Dept. of Homeland Security
        N O T E
        This simply put is absolutely NOT TRUE.You can only stay SIX months in ONE calander year.YOU can not simply stay 6 months, go home for 2 days and come back and stay another 6 months

  2. Mark,

    Sorry for the confusion, but this is how the U.S. tax law is written. According to Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade website:

    “A maximum admission period of six months is expected to be the norm for Canadian retirees seeking to winter in warmer climates. Those who wish to stay longer may apply for an extension with the nearest office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service once they are in the United States, but before their authorized stay expires. They may be asked to demonstrate that they are only remaining temporarily in the U.S.”

    More information can be found here: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=308000

    I hope that helps!


    1. Your info is quite informative, unfortunately for us, we recent retirees who bought a property in the us an plan to spend 6 months a year there as we thought we could but I guess if we don’t want to pay alien tax, we can only stay a maximum of 4 months each year if you could count previous year’s stay with your current year. Any idea how much an alient tax would cost if you want to stay 6 months a year?

  3. Carmen: We have hundreds of lawn bowlers who come from Canada to Sun City. A good number of them own property here (i know, i watch them for them while they are goine). They vary their arrival and departure schedules based on their own situation, but almost all of them track their days in the United States to get the maximum 6 months allowable. They do that for two reasons i’m told: One is so they do not have to pay taxes in the US when they are here for more than 180 days and the other is due to meeting the required number of days in Canada to qualify for their health insurance. The bigger concern is being able to buy health care coverage while they are out of Canada, it’s fairly spendy.

    1. Thanks a lot, i just got confused with Susan’s explanation that you have to include two year’s previous to your current one which means you can’t really stay for 6 months in a year. I called the US immigration at the airport and told them about it and they told me, you are allowed 6 months out of 12 and the bottom line is you have to be outside US more than in to be on the safe side and it makes sense.

      1. Regarding health insurance SHOP and SHOP around as the rates variation is astounding.I found CSBA way higher than PC financial for example

  4. In your recent bird talk column..it stated that if you came back to Canada from the USA for r the holidays you could not deduct this from your 182 days..Also it stated that if you left on a cruise from USA and returned to USA these days could not be deducted from the 182 days…Please confirm…..
    Also is the 182 days in the USA in a calender year,,,or …does it start from the date of your longest trip,,,for instances would you start counting your days in Oct to Apr….then adding on any day trips ……………….or would i count so many days from Jan to april then my day trips then my time from Oct to Dec 31…..


    1. We are a US / Canafdian couple. Frank’s home is in Florida and Betty Ann’s is in Canada. We have been married for 6 years. I have been keeping track of Betty Ann’s time in the US on a calendar year basis. This year, after flying North for the holidays, Betty Ann was told by US Immigration that if she returned by April 12, she was “cutting it close”. How are we to figure the 182 day limit?

    2. If you are wintering in the USA but, on occasion fly back to Canada
      for brief stays, Can you deduct your days in Canada from the 182 days permitted?

    3. please clarify the following…if a person travels to the U.S.on Dec 31,2012 and returns to Canada on April 02, 2013…..what are the total number of days. We have been told that we would be counted for the entire month of Dec and the entire month of April for the total number of days in the U.S. Is this a fact that you are counted for the entire month, even though you have only spent a day or two of that month…..

    4. u most certainly do deduct that time but in reality it matters not as CBS strictly calculates 180 days accumulated in any given 12 month period.I don’t understand how all you people do not understand how this works?

      1. I should add it used to be jan thru dec but hey quit that because in theory by going home for one day you could actually spend a year in the us

        example = you go down june 01 and return Dec 30.You then return jan o1 and stay till june 30. under the today market watch this is not allowed

  5. As a recent retiree, my wife & I have looked carefully at the US. Since we currently live in the GTA which is less than one hours drive from the Niagara Falls border, we have been looking (for the lower cost of living reasons) at property in Niagara Falls NY, which would be less than 10 minutes from the Canadian border. We have enough combined income from OAS, CPP, private pensions & investment income to show we can support ourselves

    OK, this is the plan

    Buy the property, stay monday-Friday, back on weekends to Canada

    Then say four times per year – flying out of the country (outside North America)visits to Europe, Carribean wherever

    On two of the four trips we’d plan to stay away for one month stretches in the sunny Med .

    We maintain bank accounts in Canada, use one of the childrens addresses as ours, keep our drivers licenses, would file yearly Canadian tax returns as Canadian residents – but in fact are living temporary in the USA in a property which we would own there.

    When leaving North America for Europe & other far off places, we would depart & enter at Toronto Pearson airport

    When returning on weekends or after the trip abroad we’d connect to visit the doctor, dentist etc [keeping OHIP current] – thereby maintaining the close connection with Canada & never ever being away for more than 180 days at any one stretch

    Is something like this doable [sort of bending the rules a bit] considering we’d never be in the US ever for more than 180 days at a stretch, but in fact we would be on US soil more than 180 … worked properly

  6. I still dont understand how you count the days. When does it start and can you deduct the days you return to Canada example Xmas. I was turned away at the boarder on Sept 23 by a young agent who was convinced I lived in Florida year round because I had a Florida drivers license and own property. I was given a long list of stuff to produce in order to get in. I returned two days later with the documents and was grilled again but let in. I was finger printed and photo taken. Has anyone had a similar problem. I dont stay over my limits but am now very concerned about what will happen everytime I try and get in. I am a retired Air Canada employee who flies back and forth often. Any Ideas?

    1. This happened to us in 2005. Although we produced the documents after the denial as in your case, we have been red flagged ever since. Almost 6 years now. We now get called into secondary every single time we cross the border. Often for several hours. We consider ourselves lucky if we get out under 90 minutes. We have missed several flights in Houston. We have never since been denied. On many occasions we have been lectured too , chastised, abused and even told we should visit another country and why did we want to come to the US so much. Often use of the washroom is refused. One time I sat with my 85 year old mother who was with me, she is a US Citizen but she was detained with me. She did not have her medicine, was refused use of a wash-room and almost went into diabetic shock as we were there for almost 3 hours. Because we are in there so much we have had the opportunity to witness many outright abusive treatment of other people. The US needs to address is in no uncertain way. I have many relatives and friends who no longer will even fly through the US on their way to Canada as a result of the fear. My 70 year old mother in law was strip searched in Houston once. My American family (Mother, father, sisters, brother) are all furious and ashamed. We no longer dare to cross for as short visit so my children do not get to see their Grandma, grandpa and Auntie who are old and disabled and cannot travel easily to Canada.

  7. Hello, everyone,

    Thank you for all of your comments. There seems to be some confusion between the amount of time Canadians are “allowed” in the U.S. and the U.S. tax laws that apply to snowbirds.

    This article is discussing some of the U.S. tax laws that apply to Canadian snowbirds. It is not talking about the amount of time Canadians are allowed to stay in the U.S. You can find more information about U.S. entry and exit requirements in the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Travel Report for the U.S. found here: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=308000

    The calculation described in this article (covering 3 years) is an explanation of the U.S. “substantial presence” test. The IRS provides more detailed information here: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=96352,00.html

    Canadian snowbirds who meet the requirements for a substantial presence are considered U.S. residents for tax purposes. However, they often qualify for a Closer Connection Exemption, which states that they have a closer connection to another country and therefore are not required to pay U.S. income taxes. To claim a Closer Connection Exemption, you must file form 8840 with the IRS. The IRS provides detailed information on the Closer Connection Exemption here: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=96377,00.html

    If you are a Canadian snowbird and do not want to pay U.S. income taxes, or hefty fines, please visit the IRS website (links above) and make sure you understand how the rules apply in your situation. Ignorance of the law will not prevent the IRS from holding you liable for unpaid taxes.

    1. Your snowbird website seems to be useless for the most important question of clarifying my length of stay in the US. No matches were found in the search

  8. I understand the counting of days in a calendar year and the 182 days USA restriction and filing the Form 8840.
    But I do not understand the USA rule(?) about having to be out of the USA for 30 days or more to be “counted as out”.
    If I go home to Canada or anywhere out of USA for a 2 week period during my winter in Arizona why should I count thoes days as being in the USA???. I am not there and my passport can prove that fact.
    The CSA states that you are not considered out of the USA unless it is for a period of more than 30 days. WHERE is this rule printed in USA regulations please???
    many thanks

  9. I am in Canada Can I go to UsOct, Nov,Dec 2011 and 3 months and then in 2012Jan,Feb,March April and being 3 months in one yr and 4 months in next yr all in a row and be in the 6 months 181 day rule?

  10. My spouse and I spent the past two winters in Arizona; first winter out of Nova Scotia, and second winter out of Ontario, while maintaining N.S. residency. Had a lot of hassle when crossing in our rv (due to being in our 40’s) and first time across we were taken into secondary, grilled for a long time and ‘warned’ not to overstay our visa. We made sure both winters not to exceed our stay, counted the days like everybody else, and in fact, I specfically asked Canada Customs to stamp our passports (Port Huron) to prove we left in time the first Spring coming back. Canada Customs refused to do so (said they don’t stamp returning Canadians) and told me to just keep a debit or credit receipt as proof we were back in Canada on time. Second time coming home, into B.C., we didn’t bother asking for a stamp.

    We now live in B.C. and have been hearing about this US income tax stuff; everybody is confused; everybody is asking everybody else what do they know about it, and many have decided to stay home this year rather than take a chance of paying US taxes. Many are also cutting their normal 5 month stay to 3-4 months.

    In my case, this year after I filed my Canadian taxes, it comes back with telling me I am a ‘non resident’ and owe many thousands of dollars more in taxes! Revenue Canada did not specify if I was a non resident of Nova Scotia or Canada. We maintained our N.S. residency, vehicle plates, health card and insurance, until this summer, when we became B.C. residents and switched over, months after I filed my taxes. So I have no idea, and am rather worried, about what this ‘non resident’ thing means. Then Revenue Canada sent me another statement saying I was a business owner/employer and owed still more taxes! I’ve not worked for over 5 years due to illness and certainly don’t own a business. I’m still waiting for an explanation from Revenue Canada. Is this non resident thing result of the IRS trying to tax me? Has any other snowbirds had this problem with Revenue Canada?

    At the same time, my spouse, who spent the exact amount of time that I did out of both Nova Scotia and out of Canada, first drew EI sick benefits from his previous Nova Scotia job while we were in Ontario in 2009, then he was employed for 5-6 months in Ontario in 2010 and now has been working for the past five months this year in B.C., while maintaining his N.S. residency until recently. His income tax is not affected. He is still a resident. I am on disability. So in my line of reasoning, if anybody is a ‘non resident’ as far as Revenue Canada is concerned, it would be my spouse, who is basically hopping from Province to Province for employment and they know that. That is, if non-resident is referring to out of Province, not out of Country. Then I wonder if Revenue Canada is trying to hit me with some kind of provincial taxes because I’ve lived in three Provinces in three years and have not been employed. I don’t know what to think!

    My spouse and I decided to stay in B.C. for this winter because of the mess with Revenue Canada. Not taking any chances on getting hit with more taxes.

  11. My wife & I have been coming to Arizona since 1997. We purchased a house in Sun City West, Arizona in March of 1998. We have come to AZ every year since the purchase. We are careful not to stay over the 182 days & have submitted an 8840 form each year.

    The last two years we have been hassled by the US immigration at Vancouver International Airport. This current year we came into the US on Oct. 31st. The border agent asked us how long we planned to stay in the US. We said 179 days. Our airline tickets verified this time frame. The border agent said “you are milking the system”. I said that I did not understand his comment. I said that we had a winter residence in AZ, & paid property taxes, bought groceries, clothing, etc., which helped the US economy. His comment was ” you can spread honey on manure, but it is still manure”. I was furious with his comment but did not say anything because of the absolute power these agents have. He went on to say that “we were lucky that we did not get a hardassed agent to deal with.

    Why are we being abused in this manner? We do not work in the US, so we are not taking any employment away from a US citizen. We pay for own healthcare & spend money to help the US economy.

    What is the problem & how can it be alleviated.

  12. Shameful behjavior on the part of the immigration officer and hopefully this comment will be forwarded to the appropriate agency. Sun City, Sun City West and Sun City Grand are just three of the many Arizona retirement communities that Canadian’s call their winter home.

    It is inexcusable for this to happen. Bill Ness does such a great job providing people research on retirement communities and now perhaps it can also be used as a tool to end some of the nonsense that occassionally people encounter. We love to have you help spurn our economy.

    What’s better than to escape those cold winters for a far warmer climate.

  13. I have not kept an aquirate log o how mqny days I have spent in the Us from Canada.Is there a way to find that out from Border Authoritiesthe actual days spent without ringing bells?. I too have had unreasonal and abusive interrigation from US Customes
    My American partner of 5 years is being treated for Cancer with chemo to carry on until Mar 2012.I have spent more time in the US than usual this year. I am his sole caregiver and want very much not to run into taxation problems with the US but am wondering if they are commpassionate allowences for different circustances? Any help will be appreciated –thanks S

  14. Can a Canadian, coming south for 182 days, earn money working for a US Employer, as a contract employee, file the closer form 8840 with the IRS disclosing the amount earned in the US and pay taxes on that amount, without obtaining any type of work visa. In essence, they would be non-resident aliens, working part time as a contract employee and filing with the IRS, form 8840, pay taxes, then head back north after 182 days. At home in Canada, both are retired. Any help is greatly appreciated:) – thanks, A

  15. Still confused and need absolute clarifcation. We are going to be close to that 182 days this year, so I need to know who to contact to be sure. We were in Florida Jan 1 – April 22 , we need to return as we purchased another place and want to get it ready for the winter, so plan is to return late June for about a month. This is where the complication arises… We need to return last week of November, as we are booked on a Cruise out of Italy on December 1. We will be flying out of Fort Lauderdale December 1 returning to Lauderdale Dec 20. So we will not be on USA soil for 19 days, but we won’t be in Canada either, so can I deduct those 19 days from the total of our USA presence for 2012??? Boy do we need clarification. HELP!!!!

  16. I am a US Citizen and I have a life partner/significant other who is Canadian. We typically spend 182 days in us and 183 in Canada. Our normal arrival is around mid October to US and return to Canada the following year in May. I had to return to US alone in June for medical tests and was disgnosed with cancer, immediate surgery then chemo and radiation. My partner wants and needs to be here for my recovery from surgery/chemo /radiation. Can he get permission to leave Canada immediately and extend the time in this calendar year he would be in US? Incidentally what is the definition of a calendar year….jan to Dec or date of last travel to date ending current travel? If you know a website to refer me to or provide an emergency phone number, please advise. Surgery is Monday 23rd July.

  17. Very informative and resourceful article. As a local real estate agent in Arizona we come across this question quite a bit. Certainly, I will have a copy of this one file for inital inquiries but as any good agent would advise; speaking with a tax professional in BOTH countries would be the ultimate recommendation. Real estate agents have a responsibility to be informative and resourceful but we are not tax experts and should not pretend to be. Thanks for the great post and there are some excellent comments loaded with information to get I touch with the sources necessary. This is a consideration I had to factor as a Canadian citizen who made the choice to live and work in the United States.

  18. A Canadian can buy a Car in the US and you can register it and insure it as well, however to do so you have to have an address in the US, just a temporary one is still ok, we rent for 6 months and we did all of the above with no problem. Then you can leave it here and come back to have it as long as you keep it registered, if you let the registration expire there is a penalty and you have to re-register the vehicle. In Canada we only have to register our car when we sell or buy a car, but in the US you have to register is yearly and pay a yearly fee, but don’t let it expire, the penalty is over $100.00 to re-register it.

    1. We are looking at the same thing currently. Which insurnace company did you use? Geico refused to do it unless we had US sin and US drivers license. We have our current address in the US and are in the process of landing with trips back and forth to Canada. Car rentals getting expensive!

      1. Try Progressive Insurance…they allow you to have any driver’s license issued in North America.

      2. We bought a car in Florida in Jan. 2011 and got insurance through AllState. We had to provide detailed proof of being insured in Canada for at least the 5 prior years i.e. copy of policies as well as letters of experience covering the previous 5+ years. Once that was done we got the insurance certificate and registered the car. We leave it in Florida when we go back in the spring and reduce the coverage to comprehensive only. This has worked well since then.

  19. Hi…I have a question that nobody seems able to answer. I own a house in Florida and spend as much time as possible there–however, I also have 2 young children, ages 2 and 5. I have spoken to the kindergarten school down there and they have no problem with her attending part of the year there and the other part in canada. As long as I have a valid US residence I can send them to school there (we pay school taxes as all property owners in florida do).
    My question is: Am I actually “legally” permitted to do this or will CBP have an issue with it (not that they’ll probably know).
    We will be spending sept-dec in canada and then jan-june in florida.
    Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Still nothing that I’ve heard of Dana….I believe they’re trying to implement 8 months, but as far as I know there has been no leadway made….

  20. Hey! really need help with the 180 “CONSECUTIVE” or total days. I am a canadian pro snowboarder having a hard time using the season passes i have to american mountains in california without being completely confused. I actually flew back to canada on a whim just so i dont loose the eligibility to go back to the us. went for 2 months from May till July then from october till february! please someone with real knowledge need advice!

  21. Can we live in our own home for 3 months in the spring and 10 weeks on this fall and 2.5 months in the fall this house is owned bt us. We have a larger home in Canada which we consider our permanent home.

  22. hi ….i just want to know if it’s 182 days per calender year…i came to the usa november 30 2012 and will leave june 7th which is less than 180 days in 2013….am i okay or do i have to leave by may 31st….peace h

      1. actually upon recalculating I get 190 days enter nov 30 is considered a day and leaving june 7 is also considered a day

  23. My sister-in-law has told me that if you exceed the 182 Day limit ( without applying for an extension) in the US you are subject to a fine, possibly be locked up detention or forbidden to enter the US in the future.

    I find this hard to believe and would appreciate someone’s real knowledge of this statement.

  24. Wow – has nobody even mentioned how completely STUPID all of this is? Aren’t we supposed to be free? This is a disgrace. Law abiding citizens can’t even travel where they feel like traveling for extended periods of time. I guess we just allow our governments to run right over us.

    When we people have enough?

    Nobody questions these man made borders where our governments make all of us criminals or feel like criminals. Total embarrassment.

  25. If you a Canadian home owner and leave for extended times, will insurance companies honor you policy, if something happened to your home, when you were out of the country?

  26. We go out of Canada from American thanksgiving to mid April to Florida, then we go weekends to Vermont in the summer. In Quebec we are allowed to be out of the province 182 days but they don’t count trips under 21 days in length for Medicare purposes. Would the US treat this in the same manner?

  27. Just a quick FYI: There’s a bill in Congress allowing Canadian’s to be in the USA for 8 months of the year. Great idea, except for our friends north of the border who need that six months back home to qualify for their national health care.

  28. I enjoy reading those questions and answers ,they were very informative.
    M y question is : i am going to be a retired snowbird in Florida do i need to tell them at the border that i am staying 6 months? This is my first time and I’m not sure if I will want to stay the whole six months yet.I bought a home there,but i have to check things out first.Do i have to show any other documents than my passport?

  29. My only concern is when we return to Canada at Christmas for 2 weeks. Can that time be deducted from my 180 days. There doesn’t seem to be an absolute answer.

    1. yes it does.The border guys count days and its actually only 180 days not 182 and its done in any given 12 month period not just Jan till dec

  30. What happens if I drive to the US as a student with Canadian car insurance and do not drive back in the 6 months, but at the end of my school year in 10 months? What if I can’t drive my car up for Xmas break which would be within the 6 months? It is a 22 hour drive.

  31. I live in Windsor Ont and make several trips during the 6 month period that I am in Windsor and not in Florida. Do day trips count as days included in the 6 month rule. If yes is 1 Day in Aug 1 day or is it 1 month? The congress was entertaining extending the allowed time. Do you know how that turned out?

  32. To my knowledge there’s been no vote on the proposal to extend the time Canadians can stay in the US. As far as how days are counted, here’s a paragraph on the matter from an article in USA Today: “Canadian citizens do not need visas to visit the U.S., but their stay is limited to six months minus one day — generally 182 days — within any 12-month period. That means Canadians who head to popular destinations in Arizona, California, Florida or Texas at the beginning of November need to get back home by late April.”

    The article is quite good and worth the read. You will see the head of the Canadian Snowbird Association has saved 7 days to lobby in Washington DC so obviously a day is just that…one day. It also mentioned Schumer’s bill does not deal with a change in the US tax consequences for those staying longer.

    I know in the original Sun City (just outside of Phoenix) we love our Canadian friends. They make great neighbors and more and more are getting involved with the community. I know several who would stay longer if they could.

    Here’s a link to the article for those interested:

  33. I was just wondering if I could take on of our vehicles down to our property in California and leave it there. We would like to start flying back and forth, as the drive is getting hard on us. Please give us some advice, as we have heard very conflicting stories if this is allowed?

    Thank you


    1. In Ontario, we have this confounded E-test every two years and I wonder how one would renew the licence sticker without the vehicle being present in Ontario for the E-test.??

  34. Lots of our Canadian friends leave a vehicle here in Sun City AZ and fly back and forth. I suspect you will have to license it in California to leave it there.

  35. Ihave a question, I live on the border, and once a week, or maybe twice a week, I go to fill up my car of gazoline, or visit my wife sister, maybe for an hour, and last yeae, we attended a seminar given by ahr bock, on snowbird, and they told us that everytime we cross the border, it counted for a day in the US. Can somebody help me on that, and if not where do I get the information, thank you

  36. I don’t understand why we kick the Canadians out of the U.S. after 6 months. We let our southern boarder neighbors vote and we give them free health insurance. Our Canadian neighbors have money to spend and are law abiding visitors with their own insurance. I say welcome Canadians – come and stay as long as you want!

      1. the one problem is the CBS are allowed to interpet and implement the laws as they see it in their personal opinion and not based on commen sense,fact and real law as the Canadian BG are compelled to do.

  37. I live in Ontario, about 15 minutes from the border, and my girlfriend just lives on the other side, so for the last little while I have been going across daily. But one day I got red-flagged and have been pulled over since. And even though I am back in Canada every weekday for work and have papers with me showing residency, I get grief from the US border guards every time I cross. The last time the guard suggested they would take my Nexus, and would stop me from crossing for a year or more. Any comments? I understand the 180 day rule, but if I go across to the US in the evening and come back in the morning, how is it calculated?

  38. As a Cdn citizen spending 6 mos in the US each year,are we required to do an import on a US purchased vehicle when returning to Canada if we do not intend on keeping the vehicle in Canada,but returning to the US with it ?

    1. NO absolutely you can not drive a US vehicle into Canada and simply return
      return when your ready.you have to import it and pay the taxes

  39. I am retired and spend winters in Florida. I met a woman in Florida, from Canada. We both spend 6 monte in Florida. During the summer months we visit back and forth; maybe a week or two at a time. With tho new ruling, she is a prisoner in Canada, due to our IRS desperate need for money. I feel if we are going to tax them for being in the good old US of A for over the 6 months, we should let them vote here ( like our Southern Border neighbors).

    Take IN GOD WE TRUST out of our government; and we are left with money deperate politicians.

  40. Am planning on driving to California the first part of November 2014… abiding by the 182 day rule … when MUST I return to Canada… I was in Florida for 10 days in March… and 5 days in Pennsylvania… do these come off the 182 days… When I do return in 2015, does that begin a new count of 182 days as of Jan. 1st 2015?
    Once returning, how soon would I be able to cross back into the US…??? Reading previously it mentioned that border crossing officials would not stamp the passports to show proof of returning to Canada…can one not insist they be stamped…??
    I remember the US border officials at Detroit giving me a very bad time.. was there over 1.5 hours… wallet was emptied and everything spewed all over… I was going to visit friends in Texas … they felt that I was going to work there…not the case…. finally they allowed me to go thru…. the room exploded with applause from the others who were there to be interrogated as well… these officials really overstep their authority on a regular basis…

  41. Pingback: Erik Pitoniak
  42. My days are getting close to 180. I visit only for week at a time. How is my time monitored when many times the Canadian border does not swipe my passport. Would the border be able to tell me how many days I have spent?

    1. they have now a us/cdn integrated computer program in place and all the USA guy does is swipe your passport and he knows when you entered and when u left because the cdn side swipes your passport when you re-enter Canada
      no different than they can read your plate and know who the vehicle belongs to before you even get to the booth

  43. Heed this warning. I went to the US this summer and the guard told me
    NO six months, no 183 days ,no 182 days . One Hundred Eighty days in any given 12 month period. SO I was there in July so they look at my time spent from August 01 2013 to July 31 2014 (last 12 months).and yes they calculated my stay and had a record of it as they asked me what I thought was my days spent and then they confirmed via computer!!!!!

  44. I think it would be in the best interest of all Canadians to lobby the US CBS and have them unifiy nationally the exact rules and regulations and take the discreation away from the person(border agent) and make them follow a set of rules and regulations no matter what their personal beliefs and feelings are as they do today
    save a lot of people undue grief and agrivation

  45. How do I find out how many days I have spent in the U.S.A. for the past 3 years? I have no records to use to calculate how long I was there.

    1. We are seeking the same information Lynn. It is very difficult to calculate since I have been very sick and can’t find the records. I was hoping we could call a number and they could easily give it to us from their computer. It would ease a lot of stress for many of us

  46. Hello, I am recipient of CPP. Service Canada denied my OAS , regarding the 183 days Law.
    In 2012 I was 61 days in Canada, 135 days on vacation and returned into Canada for 126 , when I left the country again.
    Service Canada is telling I can not be absent more as consecutive 183 days/per 12 Month period randomly chosen and not calendar year, after them! – but I have to be consecutive more as 183 days in Canada?! – and no way to add 61+126=187 days in Canada. No law is telling “consecutive days ” in Canada!I tell “cumulative days”.
    In OAS law can not find the Law for me, and they reject that I am coming with CRA/ Health/Travel law paragraphs.
    Can help me somebody?
    Stefan GULYAS

    1. Stefan,
      Review Income Tax Act. Section for Residence, it is not consecutive days, it is total in a calendar year. There is OAS Act on line. Review if there is definition of residence ship. Ask the officer the section of act he has used to determine your no of days. Good luck

  47. Can I Leave my Canadian Registered Car in Florida for the summer instead of driving back and forth. I am a snowbird, and visit Florida for 5 months. The maximum Liability coverage in Florida is $ 100,000. Wherein Ontario is $ 2,000.000. Incase Insurance Injury claims is in excess of $ 100,000. It would be covered by Ontario policy but not by Fla policy. The umbrella coverage is not available if properties are owned in out of Canada. Please let me know your views. Thank you

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