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Flocking to the southern U.S. this winter? What Canadian snowbirds need to know before they leave

TORONTO, October 16, 2012 - Before heading off to the southern U.S. this winter for a long stay, RBC Wealth Management has advice for Canadian snowbirds to ensure they take all U.S. tax and estate issues into account. Failing to adhere to applicable U.S. laws may have serious implications if not followed carefully.

"Canadians who spend more than four months in the U.S. every year should file a U.S. tax form each year to avoid being deemed a U.S. resident for tax purposes," said Prashant Patel, vice-president, RBC Wealth Management. "In addition, Canadians who own U.S. real estate should consider if U.S. estate tax or state probate tax will affect them. We can help them with strategies that can be employed to minimize the impact, if any. It is important to consult with a qualified U.S. tax advisor to discuss all these issues."

Canadian snowbirds should also make sure their affairs are in order well before they plan their trip. For example, any Power of Attorney would need to be valid in the U.S. as well as in Canada. In addition, if a Canadian personally owns U.S. real estate at the time of their death, their estate could be subject to U.S. estate taxes based on the market value of their U.S. real estate.

"After 2012, the maximum U.S. estate tax rate is scheduled to increase to 55 per cent and the value of a Canadian's worldwide estate need only exceed US$1 million to expose them to U.S. estate tax on their U.S. assets," added Patel.

RBC has a U.S. subsidiary, RBC Bank (Georgia), N.A. ("RBC Bank"), that specializes in meeting the needs of Canadian snowbirds while they vacation in the U.S.

"Our understanding of the cross-border lifestyle allows us to build strong relationships and seamlessly manage clients' banking needs, especially during this important planning stage as they prepare to travel to the U.S. for the winter," said Alain Forget, director, Sales and Business Development, RBC Bank. "We have a steadfast commitment to serving our clients and no other financial institution offers our level of tailored cross-border capabilities."

Aside from tax and estate issues, RBC Bank has compiled a comprehensive, easy-to-follow checklist of other items snowbirds should consider, including:

  • Identify the most convenient ATM locations where you will be able to withdraw funds from your U.S.-based account.
  • Contact your mobile phone service provider to add international roaming to your plan or secure a pre-paid phone to be used in the U.S. only.
  • Don't forget to pack your passport, health insurance cards, RBC Bank Visa debit card and the new RBC Bank Visa Signature Black credit card, which offers cross-border benefits ranging from reward opportunities to travel insurance and even lower foreign exchange fees.

About RBC Wealth Management
RBC Wealth Management is one of the world's top 10 largest wealth managers. RBC Wealth Management directly serves affluent, high-net-worth and ultra high net worth clients in Canada, the United States, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia with a full suite of banking, investment, trust and other wealth management solutions. The business also provides asset management products and services directly and through RBC and third-party distributors to institutional and individual clients, through its RBC Global Asset Management business (which includes BlueBay Asset Management). RBC Wealth Management has more than C$562 billion of assets under administration, more than C$324 billion of assets under management and approximately 4,300 financial consultants, advisors, private bankers and trust officers.

RBC Bank has cross-border capabilities which deliver an integrated online banking capability, known as RBC Access USA, where RBC accounts can be viewed and transacted on both sides of the border. RBC Access USA enables real-time, dual currency transfer of funds between U.S. and Canadian accounts, real-time balance updates and bill pay in either country. RBC Bank serves clients in the U.S. through a variety of channels including online, mail, ATM, in-market relationship bankers and a 24/7 support contact center. RBC Bank clients can also make deposits through smartphones and personal scanners (Remote Deposit Capture), and they have unlimited access to all PNC Bank ATMs with no fees.

For additional information about RBC Bank and its cross-border services and expertise, please visit or follow us on Twitter @RBCBank_US.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate under the master brand name RBC. We are Canada's largest bank as measured by assets and market capitalization, and are among the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America's leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment banking and investor services on a global basis. We employ approximately 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 15 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 51 other countries. For more information, please visit

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For more information, please contact:
Bev MacLean, RBC Corporate Communications, 416-974-9334