Sunday, March 4, 2012

10 Canadian Snowbirds Border Crossing Problems + Links

Here in the US we are trying to plug the holes in our borders and the results not only causes the bad guys to worry, they also make the good guys feel like thieves in the night!  It is necessary but still unfortunate. When you cross the borders into this country you get a small taste of what a police state would feel like, especially if you are not a citizen of this country.  It is the price we all pay for the fight against terrorism, illegal crossings and drug activities.

Because of a news item I saw recently, I was curious how our Canadian friends faired at the border.  So I asked if it would be alright for me to attend a Canadian Snowbird Association meeting here in our park last week where crossing issues would be explained. I was a little surprised at how reluctant they were to allow me in but I suppose our border crossing policies have something to do with it.

One of the pieces of information I received at the meeting was a magazine called CSA News.  Letters to the editor was especially interesting.  Subjects included:
NEXUS logoImage via Wikipedia

  • Border crossing issues and the need for a Nexus card.
  • Political complaints in the right wing vs left wing issues
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Where to go in the USA
  • Locations of meetings
  • Insurance issues
  • Working in the USA 
  • Best options for transfer of funds from Canada to the USA
The presenter at the meeting I attended had answers for several of these issues and especially problems you can encounter at the border crossing:
  1. Even calling your winter location "home" can be a problem. Bring proof of property ownership or rental when you come into the country.  Have clear honest answers for your travel plans when you approach the border.  They don't like lying or unclear answers.  Find out what they will ask before you leave home.
  2. The number of days you allowed in the country can vary from province to province and time you spend out of the USA on vacation or travel may still count towards those days. For example, if you board a cruise ship for a trip to Mexico or Central America will be counted as days toward you stay.  
  3. The amount of time in the country matters to the USA and the Canadian provinces because the amount of time in the country can come into play on your insurance. Again remember that each province has their own rules.
  4. Border agents have called into question the amount of money snowbirds are bringing in and how they will live if they don't have enough to last them for the stated amount of time.  It can take some convincing to get them to understand.  CSA has some very good suggestions as a solution for money transfers.
  5. He also cited an incident where a snowbird brought tools to repair a truck with him.  He was sent back home because the border agent inferred that the Canadian planned to work and earn money...big, big no no.  
  6. You are required to file a form with the IRS swearing that you have not done been working for money. 
  7. Remember the border agents works in complete autonomy and there is no appeal when they decide to make your life miserable.  
  8. Your border crossing records are kept for 6 yrs. (?) and one agent can refer back to allowances made in former years and call them into play now. 
  9. There is no way around it because all computers in Canada and the USA are linked.  
  10. Last but not least...border agents can monitor conversations you carry on in your car for a distance (1 mile?)  from the border.  And, if you stay for a time within 10 miles of the border (the hot zone) you might be called into question because that is where most illegal materials are exchanged for transport into or out of the countries.
All of the information needed to answer questions can be found within publications put out for the association.  If you are new to the snowbird life, I highly recommend that you contact these people and join the organization.  If you are in a large RV resort they may even come to make a presentation for you. If they do be sure to will make a difference in the end.  

I just thought you needed to know.  As a USA citizen I now have a new insight into what goes on at the border of our country.  Wow!

b (be sure to read the comments and leave your take on the whole thing)

PS:  I came on another incident that caused a traveler to be delayed for an extended sure that the name on your airline ticket is the same as the one on your passport.  That too can be a problem.


  1. As an Australian I visited the US a few months after 9/11. I had a wonderful and interesting time in New York for a week.

    But since this time I would be treated as a criminal when I entered as a visitor. Your list doesn't mention that my finger prints would be taken!!!

    I had always planned to attend a major conference relevant to my work but I cannot see myself ever wanting to come now. Perhaps if it was to save my life or that of my husband or son I might come (if I could afford the medical cost).

    But as a citizen of a country that has always been a good friend of the US I will never step onto your soil again. We are still supporting you with our troops in Afganistan despite your other "friends" going home.

    It also means I cannot fly to Vancouver via Hawaii. But I can take another route so who cares.

    Sadly I know many other Australians who also feel hostile about the US requirments.

    With our currency so very strong at the moment this would be a perfect time to visit but we wont be coming.

    I'm sorry it has to be this way.

  2. I'll be sharing a link to your article with my friends from Montreal. Thanks for the info.

  3. Hopefully Australia will never feel the need to be as harsh with visitors. But don't think you are alone. US citizens are subjected to their own kind of humiliations.

    None of us like it but the beat goes on!!!


  4. Me again.
    Having bad mouthed the Americans I must admit that Australia has some absolutley disgusting attitudes to refugees at the moment. I am ashamed to think that an Australian Gov can be so cruel after we took so many refugees after WW11 and after Vietnam. It is shocking and shameful. Both major political parties seem to try to outdo each other in their shocking policies.

    And don't ever play around with the Australian quarantine authorities. We are extremely strict on allowing food and other products in.

    A curious statistic. One of the top, yes top, TV programs on Australian TV is footage taken in the arrival halls at Australian airports as people arrive back or non Australians arrive and are faced with our quarantine and immigration requirements.

    But I assure you people are not routinely, if ever, finger printed as they arrive like they are when you arrive in a prison. Our days as a prison colony for England to get rid of the people they didn't want are long gone.

  5. When I checked online for "fingerprinting at airports" online I surprised at the number of countries that actually MAY do this. Korea, the Phillipines, United Kingdom are just a few. It all begin in about 2007 it appears.

    I have never had this done to me and we have been in China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Great Britain and Spain. Some places take our pictures and so I suppose they are using facial recognition. I will be prepared for finger printing in the future. This is good information.



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