Canadian Snowbird Association urges travelling Canadians to obtain a passport and travel medical insurance

TORONTO, Oct. 2, 2006 – For the past five years, Canadians have been obtaining passports at an increasingly steady rate. In 2001/02, over 1.7 million passports were issued at a time when approximately 27 per cent of the Canadian population held a valid passport. In 2005/06, over three million passports were issued and 40 per cent of the Canadian population now hold a valid passport.

“We recommend that our members carry a passport and feel it’s the best form of identification when crossing the border,” said Gerry Brissenden, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association. “The initial date when Canadians will be required to present a passport to enter the United States by air or sea is now only 4 months away and people need to be prepared.”

Canadian citizens will be required to present a passport to enter the United States when arriving by air or sea from any port of the Western Hemisphere beginning January 8, 2007.

A second proposed rule has yet to be published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security proposing certain requirements for those travellers entering the United States through land border crossings beginning January 1, 2008. While the Canadian Passport Office has now streamlined the speed with which it can process a passport application, the Canadian Snowbird Association recognizes that a financial burden exists to obtain a full passport for only short-term, random travel to the United States.

Accordingly, the Association urges the federal government to consider extending the lifespan of a Canadian passport to 10 years similar to the United States and the United Kingdom. An adult Canadian passport costs $87 and lasts five years. In the United States, a first-time passport costs $97 (USD) and lasts 10 years. A passport renewal costs Americans $67(USD). There is no such discount in Canada.

The Canadian Snowbird Association also urges all travelling Canadians to obtain travel medical insurance before leaving Canada.

“Today, travelling without supplemental health insurance is akin to gambling with your life savings,” said CSA president Gerry Brissenden. “Provincial government health insurance plans do not cover full medical expenses outside Canada, and 80-90% of any medical bills will usually be your responsibility.”

For the 15th consecutive year, the Canadian Snowbird Association has endorsed the travel medical insurance packages of Medipac International.

The Canadian Snowbird Association is a 70,000 member, non-profit, non-partisan organization representing Canadian travellers from across the country. The CSA works in partnership with government and business to educate and advocate on behalf of all travelling Canadians, helping to ensure access to safe, healthy travel with no restrictions on freedom of movement.