Travelling Abroad? You Can’t Take Canada’s Cannabis with You

Canada’s marijuana legalization has attracted international media headlines the way few other Canadian actions have in recent memory—much more newsworthy than its freeing up of marijuana for medical purposes several years ago. And, as might be expected, the October 17 enactment of the new pot laws has spawned hugely speculative and grossly sensational alarms about what Canadians (including snowbirds) might expect when crossing over into the US this coming winter season. Let’s first establish one point above all: Canada’s legalization of cannabis is a domestic issue. It is applicable in Canada only. It has no impact on any other country’s laws or rules. In time it may certainly influence what other countries do—but not yet. The Canadian government is quite clear when it warns that “carrying any cannabis or cannabis product (legal or illegal) across Canada’s border will remain a serious criminal offence, with individuals convicted of engaging in such…

Visiting the US This Winter? Let’s Review the Rules—Part 1

It’s that time of year again: time to review the rules that govern how long you can stay out of the country without risking loss of your provincial health insurance benefits, how long you may stay in the US as a visitor, and if there are any changes in the rules you need to pay particular attention to. And this year, we’re going to do our review in two parts—the second dealing with new and vital information you need to know about Canada’s cannabis laws (for recreational or prescribed medical use) before leaving the country or approaching any other international border. You don’t need to be a marijuana user to be affected by these laws—so stay tuned. But first: the rules for visiting the US—Canada’s favourite vacation location There are no major changes in the B2 (non-immigrant tourist) visa rules for Canadian citizens wishing to visit the United States.…

Is Relief in Sight for Medical Student Debt?

For many of Canada’s best and brightest, the prospect of a career in medicine is dampened by the reality of mounting student debt, into the six figures in many cases. And it’s not just obtaining the MD that’s challenging: it’s the years beyond, working toward the specialty accreditation that generates the fees needed to pay off that debt—a need that often diverts graduates away from lesser-paying fields like family medicine. It’s a vicious cycle. But a recent announcement from New York University School of Medicine that it will begin offering free tuition to all current and future students—regardless of need—sparks some hope that new ways of funding medical education may be taking root. NYU, one of America’s top 10 medical schools (where the average annual cost is $55,018 USD), is taking the step thanks to an endowment from private sources that is currently valued at $450 million and is aiming…

Relocation Series—Moving to Mexico City, Mexico

Welcome to our Relocation Series! Looking for better opportunities? Want to make a big life change? Finally found the dream destination you want to move to? Our Relocation Series consists of the most popular destination choices for expatriates to relocate to. We will include all the details on what you need to know on each country and factors to determine if it would be the perfect fit for you! Let us make your life easier for this next big step you are taking. A comprehensive guide for moving to and living in Mexico City Languages The common languages are Spanish, Nahuatl, Maya, and Mixtec. English is also becoming more widely spoken. Money The Mexican Peso (MXN) is used. Credit cards are widely accepted and the country has an extensive network of ATMs. Safety Mexico has an overall medium risk regarding safety. Stay in the tourist zones to…

New Surveys Show Canadian Travel to the US Is Up—and So Is Insurance Coverage

Despite a plethora of news stories asserting deteriorating relationships between Canada and the US over trade and political differences, it appears Canadians have not pared back their leisure travel plans south of the border to their most favoured vacation destinations. In fact, according to new data reported by the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) and Statistics Canada, Canadian leisure trips to the US lasting at least one night increased in 2017 by almost 4.5 per cent from 2016’s number, rising to 15.5 million—the first annual increase since 2013. Overall, Canadians made over 25.5 million leisure trips out of the country (to both the US and abroad) in 2017, more than in the previous two years.   More than three-quarters maintain travel coverage The CBoC survey also commissioned a poll of Canadians to determine their travel insurance buying habits. It found that 78 per cent of those who had travelled out…

Warnings on Virtual Kidnapping Targeting Chinese Students

A warning to international students, brought to you by StudyInsured. A new (but old) scam is underway, specifically targeting Chinese international students: virtual kidnapping. It sounds bizarre when you first hear the words—how do you kidnap someone virtually? Doesn’t kidnapping require a person to be… physically there? Apparently not. Scam artists have had to up their game and get more creative with their schemes over the years as security measures have been tightening up and the general population has become more aware of when someone is trying to defraud them. In comes virtual kidnapping. While Canada is overall a safe destination for international students, travelling such a long distance away can naturally cause anxiety for students’ parents and loved ones left back home. This scam seeks to play on those fears by inventing a danger to the student that isn’t actually there. The history It started as a…

Foreign College Studies for Canadians—Right Next Door

Given that their parents are such zealous travellers, the reticence of Canadian post-secondary school students to study abroad even for short periods or exchanges is somewhat mystifying. As we see in the story linked above, concerns about transferability of credits and the prospect of “a lot of hard work” tend to keep most Canadian students homebound—unexposed to foreign cultures, mores, climates, and temptations. And then there are the costs. But one of the lesser-known channels to foreign studies—perhaps even for short-term trial periods—may lie in the discounted tuition programs offered by US colleges and universities (some established by state legislation) specifically for Canadian students. How about the Sunshine State? For example, in 1987, the Florida legislature set up a Florida-Canada linkage program offering Canadian students admissions to some 40 state-funded colleges and universities at the same subsidized tuition levels offered to state residents—all in the interests of developing stronger…

Canadians Show Growing Satisfaction with Travel Insurance

Travel insurers have long been criticized for the complexity of their policies, heavy-handed use of medical and legal language in their applications, and their alleged tendency to deny, deny, deny claims. But according to a new public opinion research poll, commissioned by the Canadian Association of Financial Institutions in Insurance (CAFII), a non-governmental, non-profit watchdog association advocating a more transparent insurance marketplace, more than 8 out of 10 Canadians who have purchased travel insurance are satisfied with the value they receive from the products they buy. Furthermore, according to a press release issued by CAFII, 98 per cent of people who made travel medical insurance claims in the past year said they were fully or partially paid, with only 2 per cent of claims being rejected. In addition, 91 per cent of claimants said they were satisfied with their claim experience from initial contact to final outcome. According to the…

New Canadian Biometric Requirements in Place for International Students and Other Visa Holders

As of July 31, 2018, international students applying for Canadian student visas from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are required to provide biometric facial photos and fingerprint data to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers when entering the country. The requirements will also apply to applicants for visitor, work, permanent residency, or refugee asylum visas. Applicants already in Canada are temporarily exempt from the requirements pending the establishment of biometric application processing centres in Canada starting in 2019. Canada’s Biometric Initiative program, which is designed to ease legitimate travel to Canada while protecting national security and preventing identify fraud, will be extended to applicants from Asia, Asia- Pacific, and the Americas starting December 31, 2018. Canada already collects biometric data from refugee applicants from 30 countries. Tourists from visa-exempt countries with valid Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTA) are exempt from the requirement, as are: Canadian citizens US nationals Citizenship…

Relocation Series—Moving to Toronto, Canada

Welcome to our Relocation Series Launch! Looking for better opportunities? Want to make a big life change? Finally found the dream destination you want to move to? Our Relocation Series consists of the most popular destination choices for expatriates to relocate to. We will include all the details you need to know on each country and factors to determine if it would be the perfect fit for you! Let us make your life easier for this next big step you are taking.   A comprehensive guide for moving to and living in Toronto Languages The official languages spoken are English and French. Chinese and Punjabi are the next most commonly spoken languages. Money The Canadian dollar (CAD) is used and credit and debit cards are accepted countrywide. It is recommended to use one of the most prominent banks that have ATMS scattered across the city. Safety Toronto…

Canadian Universities Get High Marks for Education, But a Bum Rap for the Weather

No generation is more susceptible to being influenced by the blogosphere and social media rants than applicants to colleges and universities—especially those anticipating studies in distant foreign countries. It’s challenging enough sorting through the academic choices, admission standards, visa requirements, and financial commitments that are critical to making choices about where to apply without also factoring in language barriers, social customs, and basic living issues like weather. Weather? To judge by the narratives floated in various forms of media directed at aspiring international students, discussions about weather appear to be a priority. Universities in Florida, Arizona, and Southern California use weather as a big recruiting plus—for obvious reasons. It seems to work. Bundle up? But when describing college choices in Canada, once the narrators get past the great cost advantages and international esteem given Canadian universities—the second or third paragraph of the blog or article tends to focus on…

When Hurricanes Threaten, Here’s What Travel Insurance Can and Cannot Do for Your Clients

With the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic basin approaching, travel insurance vendors need to reinforce not only the value of cancellation/interruption policies to clients planning trips to storm-prone areas, but make sure clients understand these plans’ limitations and exclusions as well. Travellers need to understand that trip cancellation insurance is designed to cover only prepaid monetary losses that are not refundable by the travel supplier—reservation deposits, payments for tour packages, cruise ship tickets. It’s not meant to compensate for the disappointment of a lost “dream trip.” If your client’s Caribbean cruise is shortened by two or three days due to a mechanical failure or an unscheduled rerouting to a safer port and the cruise line offers a make-up voucher for future travel, that’s considered a refund and disqualifies the need for a claim. Same story if an airline leaves the client stranded and then offers a voucher for…