An American's Guide to Canada: Resources for Americans in Canada

This is a collection of links describing what resources are available in Canada and on the Internet for US citizens who live north of the border. It's by no means comprehensive; it's intended only as a starting point, and nothing on it should be construed as official. If there's anything you'd like to see here, let me know.

US government services for citizens abroad

The United States government operates an automated, toll-free telephone number that provides a fairly thorough recorded description of the services available to US citizens in Canada.

+1 (800) 529 4410

When you call this number, you'll be connected to one of those "For information about X, press 1. For information about Y, press 2. For information about Z, press 3" etc. systems. All the information is available in English or French. You can find out about any of the following:

  • American citizen emergency services
  • Passport issuance and renewal
  • Registration of births
  • Claims to US citizenship
  • Dual nationality
  • Notarial services
  • Tax information
  • Voting procedures
  • The US Selective Service system
  • Social Security
  • US Customs
  • Travel advisories
The US maintains consulates ("consular sections") in the following cities:
  • Calgary
  • Halifax
  • Montréal
  • Ottawa
  • Québec
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
The information line can tell you the hours, addresses, and procedures for reporting emergencies for all of them.

Finances

Disclaimer: the following information is strictly my understanding of IRS requirements for US citizens living abroad. It is in no circumstances to be construed as official. See the IRS link below for definitive information.

As a US citizen, you are required to file an income tax return every year, even if your entire income for the year comes from sources outside the US. In most cases, you do not have to pay taxes on non-US income if you make less than $70,000 USD in one year, but you do still have to file. I'm not sure why the IRS is interested, but they are, and failure to file can get you arrested if you return to the States.

You have to pay taxes on non-US income in the following circumstances:

  • You make more than $70,000 USD in one year, or
  • You work as an independent contractor outside the US.
The Internal Revenue Service WWW site is an invaluable resource, containing a guide to the tax responsibilities of US citizens living abroad, downloadable tax forms, and contact information. You'll need the Adobe Acrobat software, downloadble for free, to use this site to its fullest.

In many Canadian cities, representatives from the IRS are available on certain dates before April 15 to help you with your taxes. The 800 number above can tell you more about this, including where you can call to make an appointment.

Voting

You are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in your state of last residence. Again, the above 800 number can give you more information, including how to register (your best bet is probably to go visit the consulate nearest you).

Here are some links you can use to keep yourself informed:

Here are some links to information about Congress: And of course, there's always the White House site.

Other helpful resources

--Emily Way (emily_@_americansguide.ca)
Last updated September 12, 2005

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