The U.S.-Canada border has been closed for nearly a year for non-essential travel. In just the first few days in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the U.S. to collaborate with the Canadian government to develop a health and safety measure to reopen the borders. For now the border restriction will remain in place until at least February 21st.
Those Canadians who spend their winter in Florida have probably heard that there is an act in congress that would extend their stay in the US up to 8 months. This is pure speculation as the proposed bill in congress to allow this has been introduced unsuccessfully in the past for many years. The new legislation, called the Canadian Snowbirds Act is far from getting passed by Congress to affect Canadian tourism in 2021 or even 2022.
Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, along with Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, are sponsoring the legislation. Canadians are Florida’s top international visitors. More than 3.5 million Canadians visited the Sunshine State in 2018, spending an estimated $6.5 billion, according to tourism officials.
Broward County: Fort Lauderdale area is the top market for Canadian visitors who are older than 55, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen.
The Canadian Snowbird Association estimates that at least 350,000 Canadians spend three to six months in Florida, while another 100,000 spend between one to three months in the state. About eight in 10 snowbirds own a property, according to the estimates.
If passed into law, the legislation would allow Canadians over the age of 50 who own or rent a residence in the U.S. to stay two months longer. Under existing law, Canadians who stay in the United States for more than six months are required to pay U.S. federal income taxes on their income, regardless of what country it’s earned in. It would be great for Florida’s economy but the proposed law needs more than just Florida congressional support.
Another issue is that if Canadian snowbirds stay in the United States longer than six months, they are at risk of losing their Canadian government health insurance.