3 things all snowbirds need to know

(NC) For many Canadians entering retirement, moving to the United States for part of the year is the perfect antidote to our harsh winter months. Yet going for an extended stay is a bit more complicated than simply packing a suitcase and hopping on a plane.

Alain Forget, director and head of sales at RBC Bank, has three must-have items to consider before you leave:

  1. Prepare a cross-border kit to take with you. Border officials will often question your intent when entering the country. To prove your intent to return to Canada, bring your passport, recent telephone or utility bills, your Canadian tax return, driver’s license and health card.
  2. Check your insurance coverage. Make sure the policy you have covers hospital and related medical costs, as well as emergency transfer to Canada if needed. Also find out if your policy covers pre-existing medical conditions, consider adding travel coverage and update it if needed before you go.
  3. Keep a record of your medical history handy. This is important if you ever need medical attention because it will provide doctors with details of your medication dosages and other important information they may need. Also, make sure your immunizations are up to date. Before you go, appoint someone as your healthcare power of attorney who can make decisions on your behalf.

Once you get there, watch the calendar. There are different immigration and tax rules depending on your length of stay. For example, if you are in the U.S. for more than 182 days in a calendar year, you might have to file an American tax return and may even lose your provincial health insurance.

To make day-to-day life easier, consider getting a U.S. bank account and credit card so you will always have easy access to cash, money transfers and payments. Learn more at www.rbcbank.com.