Page 13 - CSANews 90

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tohave been elect-
ed first vice-president of the Canadian
Snowbird Association and appointed
as chair of the Government Relations
Committee. Hopefully, I will be able to
build on the successes of my predecessor
Ron Steeves. As I’m sure you’re aware, he
did a great job in both positions.
We have been receiving many ques-
tions about the new agreement between
Canada and the United States which,
among other things, would begin to track
entry and exit information of citizens of
both countries.
On February 4, 2011, the Canadian
and U.S. governments issued a dec-
laration known as Beyond the Border: A
Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and
Economic Competitiveness. The purpose
of the program is to enhance border se-
curity and increase legitimate traffic of
people, goods and services.
By June 30, 2014, as part of the initiative,
the border program will be expanded to
include the sharing of entry and exit in-
formation about both Canadian and U.S.
citizens. Thus, an entry record into one
country can be utilized to establish an exit
record from the other.
While this expansion will mean that
travellers will have to be more vigilant
in calculating their length of stay in the
United States, it will have no impact on the
current policies towhich Canadian citizens
are already subject. This exchange of infor-
mation will in no way change or shift the
way in which either country determines
your residency. Despite what you may
have heard in some recent media reports,
Canadian and U.S. policies related to immi-
gration and taxation remain unchanged.
For immigration purposes, eligible
Canadian citizens are generally admit-
ted into the United States for a period of
six months less a day, which is calculated
within any 12-month period.
For the purposes of taxation, generally
speaking, if you consistently spend four
(4) months or longer in the United States
each year, you need only file IRS form
8840, in order to avoid being classified as a
U.S. resident for tax purposes. I appreciate
that this can get confusing at times so, if
you’re still not clear, please call the office
and they will be more than happy to ex-
plain things further.
In April of 2013, after a great deal of
work on our part, Florida’s legislation
requiring foreign drivers to possess an
International Driving Permit (IDP) in order
to legally operate a motor vehicle was of-
ficially repealed.
Recently, the CSA has received many
inquiries regarding whether a similar re-
quirement exists in the state of Georgia.
According to the Georgia Department of
Driver Services website:
“Non-U.S. citizens holding a valid for-
eign driver’s license are allowed to drive
in the state of Georgia for tourism or busi-
ness purposes.
If the foreign license is
not printed in English, the driver must
also have an International Driving
Permit (IDP) or similar translation
issued in accordance with the provision
of the Convention on Road Traffic, any
similar treaty, international agreement,
or reciprocal agreement between the
United States and a foreign nation
. Non-
U.S. citizens must obtain an IDP from their
home country prior to coming to the U.S.”
The International Driving Permit is an
English translation of the foreign licence.
The intent is to make it easier for local law
enforcement officers to determine if a per-
son is legally operating a motor vehicle
when they are stopped. Our members
from Quebec have driver’s licences issued
to them in French, which is understand-
ably causing them a degree of concern.
It should be noted that, while there have
been reports circulating about Quebec
snowbirds being fined for not having an
IDP in their possession, the CSA has not
been contacted by any Quebec member
who has been fined in Georgia for not
holding an International Driving Permit.
Having said that, we have now taken
steps to obtain an exemption for Quebec
residents. We have had numerous discus-
sions with Georgia state legislators on this
file over the winter and they are aware of
the problem. Thousands of Quebec snow-
birds drive through Georgia every year on
the way to their winter homes in Florida.
They stay in Georgia hotels, eat in Georgia
restaurants, shop in Georgia stores and
fill up their tanks at Georgia gas stations.
Economic arguments resonate strongly
with elected officials and I amhopeful that
we will have a solution in place shortly.
As representatives of the association
work to achieve a long-term solution
to this problem, in the interim, the CSA
may pay the legal defence fees for the
first five members issued a ticket in the
state of Georgia for not possessing an
International Driving Permit. If you have
been issued a ticket while travelling
through Georgia, even though you are
back in Canada, please contact the office
and let us know.
It will be a busy spring on the govern-
ment relations front and we’ll keep you
updated in the next edition of the maga-
Have a great summer.
Government Relations
Jim Sherb
First Vice-President