Have you reached a point where you’re tired of winter in Canada? Are you ready to spend the blistering cold months somewhere more tropical? Are you ready to become a snowbird? We get it! Winter is not for everyone, and the allure of spending it elsewhere is understandable. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of Canadians leave their province and find themselves in warmer climates. But you should be aware that it’s not as easy as declaring you’re a snowbird and then jumping on a plane. So, we’ve gone through everything you need to know about becoming a snowbird below.
How long can you be a snowbird?
If you plan to head to the United States for the winter, you can stay for approximately eight months or 243 days in a 12-month year. If you stay any longer than that, you may get labeled with a ‘resident alien’ status, with taxes and Form 8840, better known as the Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens. The IRS does have some flexibility for snowbirds, but it can be tough to navigate. It’s also important to note that the 243 days can be all in one shot or an accumulation of days. So, if you spend any other time in the country (even if it’s just a single day,) that counts towards your 243-day total allotment.
Can you keep your provincial health insurance if you’re a snowbird?
To keep your provincial health insurance, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time in your home province. This is because there are different duration requirements for each province. As of November 15th, 2018:
Prince Edward Island
Must spend six months plus a day in Prince Edward Island every year.
Must be present in Quebec for at least 183 days per calendar year. Absences of 21 consecutive days or less are not included in the calculation.
183 days in any 12 month period. (You may remain eligible for AHCIP coverage if, regularly, you are absent from Alberta for up to 212 days in a 12-month period for vacation.)
Six months in each calendar year. Canadian citizens or people lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence outside of B.C. for vacation purposes only are allowed a total absence of seven months each calendar year.
No more than 212 days outside Manitoba in any 12-month period. It is recommended that you contact Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living for departures longer than 90 days.
No more than 212 days outside New Brunswick in any 12-month period.
Must be physically present for at least 153 days during each calendar year.
Must be present at least 183 days per calendar year.
No more than 212 days outside Ontario in any 12-month period if you have lived in Ontario for more than six months. No more than 30 days outside Ontario if you have lived in Ontario for less than six months. OHIP does not insure or pay for all out-of-country medical services. Also, the amount of funding provided by OHIP will not usually cover the full cost of any health services that you do obtain outside of Canada. Your OHIP covers only very limited amounts for hospital, health facility and physician services outside of Ontario and Canada. OHIP does not pay for ambulance services, transportation costs or out-of-hospital food/accommodation/drugs or prescriptions.
Must normally live in the province for at least five months per year.
A certificate must be obtained from MCP if leaving the province for more than 30 days. Certificates are valid for eight to 12 months.
Must be your primary place of residence.
Must be physically present in Yukon for more than six months. If away for three months or more, you must fill out a Temporary Absence form.
It is important to remember that these rules are subject to change. Contact your provincial health care provider for current requirements.
COVID-19 travel rules guide for Canadian snowbirds
As of October 1, 2022, snowbirdadvisor.ca has created a COVID travel rules guide to help you find the latest information for travelling to the U.S and Mexico, as well as to and from Canada. This helpful guide is updated regularly, and will be current as of the LAST UPDATED date above. This centralized approach to travel information will make it faster and easier for snowbirds to find all the information you need. However, it is still advised to visit official government websites for the latest official COVID travel rules and guidelines.
On October 1, 2022, the Government of Canada lifted all COVID-19 related travel rules. From now on, travellers are:
- No longer required to be vaccinated to enter Canada
- No longer required to be vaccinated to board a plane or train within Canada
- No longer required to be vaccinated to board a cruise ship in Canada
- At this time, the U.S. still requires travellers to be vaccinated to enter the United States.
- Using ArriveCAN to submit your travel information is now optional for travellers entering Canada and is no longer mandatory.
- Advisory levels for most countries is currently a Level 1 (normal security precautions) or Level 2 (exercise a high degree of caution).
You can find the current Government of Canada’s official statement on easing COVID-19 travel rules here.
The Global Level 3 COVID-19 Travel Advisory to avoid non-essential travel remains in effect for travellers who are NOT fully vaccinated.
Should snowbirds purchase travel insurance?
Yes, 100%! As a Canadian, you may not fully realize the sticker shock that comes with American healthcare. So, don’t take a risk on your health, and instead invest in a high-quality travel insurance plan. Travel insurance is an absolute necessity, especially for such a long duration out of the country. To compare the rates of the top travel insurance companies, request a quote through isure! Our simple system will show you many different examples and rates to help you find the best medical and trip cancellation coverage for your trip.
What about my home insurance coverage?
If you’re away from home for a long time, some home insurers will have more measures you need to take. Failing them can result in lost home insurance coverage. Speak with your isure broker to know for sure, but a common rule is to have a family member do regular stop-ins and inspections while you are away.
Where should I go?
If your goal is to escape winter, as is the case for most snowbirds, then the southern states in the USA should be your destination. Historically, snowbirds fell into the retiree demographic, however, according to vacationrenter.com, the ditch-the-cold-for-a-month-or-more life is no longer reserved just for Nana and Grandpa. With remote work still in play, younger birds are also spreading their wings in search of rising mercury.
Vacationrenter.com has comprised a list of the seven best under-the-radar snowbird vacation destinations that won’t break the bank for 2023:
1. Tybee Island, Georgia
2. Pawleys Island, South Carolina
3. McAllen, Texas
4. Anna Maria Island, Florida
5. Princeville, Hawaii
6. Prescott, AZ
7. Twentynine Palms, CA
Where can I get more information about being a snowbird?
The CSA (Canadian Snowbird Association) has a continuously updated section of its website. They also offer a simple Travellers Checklist that will ensure you have all your needs in order. \
For further questions on being a snowbird and what that means for your travel and home insurance coverage, give us a call today!