Dual Citizenship Question
February 5, 2009 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Question about a US/Canadian citizen moving to Canada.

I have dual citizenship-- American and Canadian since birth. I have lived in the US all my life. I am going to do an internship in Alberta from May through October.

The internship is on an organic farm (hooray!), not some huge corporation, so no paperwork or visa sponsorships are involved.

I have valid passports from both Canada and the US. I have read that the US requires its citizens to travel on US Passports. How does this work with regard to my living in Canada for longer than the typical US tourist?

I am tentatively hoping to find a permanent job after my internship and I imagine this would further complicate immigration/taxation issues. Does anyone have any advice about how to proceed? Are there any resources online that will help me answer these questions?
posted by jschu to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
countries you're a citizen of require you to use your passport from them when entering or exiting from them, so exit the us with your us passport, enter canada with your canadian passport.
posted by lia at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2009


you don't exit the US. You just enter Canada. With your Canadian. welcome home eh! Then use your US passport to re-enter the US. That's it. You don' t need to tell them you have two passports, etc.

Taxes... that I don't know.
posted by defcom1 at 2:30 PM on February 5, 2009


lia has it right about which passports to use. Immigration shouldn't be an issue, since you are a citizen. You should probably apply for a Social Insurance Number pretty soon after arriving. Also see about getting coverage under your province's health care system (e.g. MSP in B.C., OHIP in Ontaria, etc.). Many of these have a waiting period and need proof of residence, so you may want to get travel medical insurance to tide you over. The rules for whether you have to file a Canadian tax return are a bit complex. Revenue Canada (CRA) has different rules about what makes you a resident (for tax purposes) than Immigration (CIC).
posted by Emanuel at 2:36 PM on February 5, 2009


I'm not sure about the rules regarding taxes, but defcom1 is correct about traveling. You enter the US on your US passport, enter Canada on your Canadian passport. If they ask you any questions, just show them your other passport. I've never had a problem with this.
posted by number9dream at 2:38 PM on February 5, 2009


Some more resources:

CIC's info for new immigrants. Much of it won't apply to you, but there's a lot to get you started (e.g. info about SIN, health benefits, taxes, etc).

CRA's document on determining your residence status for tax purposes.

If you're going to stay in Canada, you should also get a driver's license from your province (you're supposed to do that within a certain amount of time -- 90 or 180 days usually).
posted by Emanuel at 2:43 PM on February 5, 2009


Fellow dual citizen here, though I was born on the other side of the border from you.

I have read that the US requires its citizens to travel on US Passports. How does this work with regard to my living in Canada for longer than the typical US tourist?

It doesn't, really. In the eyes of each country, you are first and foremost a citizen of that counrty. This means that you show your U.S. passport to the U.S. DHS folks when entering the U.S., and show your Canadian passport to the Canadian CIC folks upon entering Canada. If the Canadian Immigration officer asks you what your status is in the U.S., only then should you bring up dual citizenship; and vice versa. (In my experience, the Canadian folks are more likely to ask you about it than the American folks, though this is probably because my residence is in the U.S.)

I am tentatively hoping to find a permanent job after my internship and I imagine this would further complicate immigration/taxation issues. Does anyone have any advice about how to proceed? Are there any resources online that will help me answer these questions?

The broad lay of the land is as follows: As a U.S. citizen, you'll be required to file tax returns with the IRS for the rest of your life. Sorry. If you're earning income in Canada, you'll need to file a tax return with the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). The terms of the tax treaty between Canada and the U.S. are such that you generally don't end up paying twice; if you earn income in country A, you can deduct the tax paid to country A on said income from Country B's tax on that income. However, this does mean that you have to figure out both tax returns around the same time. Your Aprils will be rather more interesting if you stay in Canada.
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:17 PM on February 5, 2009


There is no immigration issue. You are a Canadian citizen, with a SIN and passport, working in Canada. They might ask at the border, since you've never lived there, or they might not, but it won't really make a difference. Show your Canadian passport to the border guards, tell them you've got a job, have fun.

Taxes: you're going to have a lot of fun. As Johnny Assay says, you need to file a Canadian tax return for federal and provincial taxes. If you are a non-resident, then you need to file only on income earned in Canada. If you are a resident (probably, since you intend to move to Canada permanently, and will likely be there more than 183 days -- that said, I don't know the details of how the US determines residency), you need to file for all income earned everywhere. It's not that difficult to do the tax returns, it just is somewhat fussy and takes a while. You can probably pay someone to do the taxes for you come next April.
posted by jeather at 4:18 PM on February 5, 2009


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