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Dear Bird Talk,
Thank you for publishing my letter in your
Fall magazine. As you know, I had no luck
whatsoever when trying to deal with Visa. I
took your advice and contacted Air Canada
and, because of my husband’s medical
emergency, they were kind enough to ofer
us two tickets to Florida.
We read with interest the letters in Bird Talk
from other travellers and we have learned so
much. I hope that others will learn some-
thing from our experience with Visa.
Thanks again for your help, and we look for-
ward to future issues of
CSANews
magazine.
Beatrice Sage
Gravenhurst, ON
Ed: We are pleased that everything worked out
so well.
Dear Bird Talk,
We have just joined and fnd the snowbird
site interesting. We are going to be buying
a mobile home in a 55+ park in Las Vegas.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Bird Talk
from Nevada. But we have some basic
questions to help us get started. Any info
you can provide would be appreciated. Is
there anything special about Nevada/Las
Vegas state or municipal issues we should be
aware of? How do you handle the forward-
ing of mail from our home address? After
reading many of the comments, we are still
confused on the length of time we can be in
the U.S. Is it six months?What experiences
have people had regarding cellphones and
cellphone plans?What are the best options
for handling the transfer of funds to buy the
place we decide on? I see mention of a visa.
Is there a requirement for a visa? I think that
will help get us started.
David and Judy Bradford
Sherwood Park, AB
Ed: From the top, simplifed version: You can
spend six months in the United States each
year and a visa is not required. You are auto-
matically granted a verbal visa at the border
when they allow you to enter the U.S., although
they do have the right to bar your entry or
shorten your visit, so be respectful. Every cell-
phone plan is a little diferent, but we call our
carrier before we leave and tell them that we
need coverage in the U.S. They will usually have
a plan extension available for a fee.
Transferring funds is best accomplished
through the CSA’s Currency Exchange program,
but you will need a U.S.-dollar bank account
– in the U.S. –
to do that. I highly recommend
setting up a U.S. bank account and using it
to pay all of your U.S. bills, including your
purchases. I personally use aWells Fargo debit
card for most purchases. I also transfer money
fromCanada every month to spread out my
currency risk. Using a Canadian credit card in
any foreign country will get very expensive, so
use themonly as a last resort. That’s a start!
Now, come to our shows and speak to the
CSA directors and volunteers; they have been
“snowbirding” for years and love to share their
experiences. That’s the best advice.
Dear Bird Talk,
I read in our magazine about people hav-
ing border-crossing issues. We never have
had any, either way. I wonder what triggers
people’s problems. Are they being rude to
Canadian or American agents, not being
truthful, or what? It would help to put such
stories in context. Like many Canadians, be-
fore being a snowbird and joining the CSA, I
never thought much about such matters. Of
course, my trips were short. Canadians need
to remember that the U.S. is independent
and has its own rules. Thanks for keeping us
educated.
P.S. How is the snowbird visa thing going??
Roger Beebe
Niverville, MB
Ed: I have crossed hundreds of times and I am
always very respectful. On only one occasion
was I really hassled and that was getting of of
a ferry in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I hadmy wife
andmy then 80-year-old parents in the back
seat. We must have been profled!! Tomake a
long story short, it was about three hours of
our time and a very, very thorough search of
our car, including removing panels and having
dogs do their snifng tricks. The dogs were very
nice. We got Nexus cards a few years ago and
I highly recommend them. You get to skip the
long lineups when fying – which can save you
two hours – and Canada customs is a breeze.
Dear Bird Talk,
As a Canadian, can you make maintenance
and repair in and around your own house in
Arizona?
Barbara Bogusz
Port Moody, BC
Ed: Yes, and you can help your neighbour, too.
But you cannot charge any money for your
work.
Dear Bird Talk,
Re: Travel Medical Insurance for Visitors to
Canada
We have recently had our niece and her fam-
ily visit us here in B.C., from Colorado. I was
interested in what travel medical coverage
cost them and how it compares to Medipac.
When I asked them, they informed me that
they had not taken out any travel medical
insurance; since Canada has ‘socialized medi-
cine,’ they assumed the cost (if needed) for
any medical emergency would be minimal.
I felt this was very naive on their part and
furthermore, could end up being very costly.
Without knowing for sure myself how they
would be treated, I did not comment further.
If anyone knows the correct answer, I’d like
to let them and any other American relatives
know, so that they will make sure to take out
insurance before visiting here in Canada.
Rhonda More
Armstrong, BC
Ed: It amazes us that anyone would think
their medical care is FREE in another country –
naive, indeed. Most Canadian hospitals have
standard rates which they charge to non-resi-
dents; Canadian doctors are not limited by the
government plans and can charge what they
want. A typical fee would be about $2,500 per
day plus doctor fees, test costs and drugs. Many
U.S. programs, especially through employers,
do have some coverage outside of the U.S. and
your friends and relatives should check their
coverage before buying.
Dear Bird Talk,
I cannot believe that we will be subjected to
Michael Coren’s extreme right-wing ranting
issue after issue in your
CSANews
publica-
tions. I have asked you in the past to provide
a balanced approach to relevant issues. Why
does this arrogant, narrow-minded person
warrant the right to be your only “political”
columnist?
The utter gall of anyone who would pontif-
cate as to why he is “intellectually superior”
to those left-wingers who disagree with him
is appalling. I don’t suppose Coren would
be concerned about the growing dispar-
ity between Canada’s rich and poor. I don’t
imagine he would champion the needs of
our health and education systems, which
are being sacrifced due to the expansion of
Bird
talk