I had a friend once, Steve, who I really enjoyed spending time with. He introduced me to the Northern wilderness of Minnesota and to hunting and fishing in the great frozen northlands. The only problem I had with Steve was that he would nickel and dime me to death. He always seemed to come up $5 short here or $3 short there. I would cover him, foolishly thinking that someday I’d get it back when HE would buy the beer or the gas or whatever. Unfortunately, that day has yet to come.
Steve is like Canada. I’ve enjoyed traveling to Canada every time I’ve been asked to go. I even vacationed there once and went skiing in Banff and Lake Louise for a week. I had a blast skiing in the Canadian Rockies, I even hand fed a wild mule deer or two (they seem to love potatoes and peanut butter). The whole country seems clean, polite, and very easy going. Even the customs workers are pleasant to talk to. Like Steve however, Canada hits you in the pocket book every time you turn around.
The Canadian government calls it “GST.” GST stands for the “Goods and Services Tax.” Now, allow me to let you in on a little secret; The GST was implemented for Canadians… not for Americans who travel to Canada! VERY few Americans realize this.
U.S. Citizens, I wish I could should this from an American mountain top, “It is possible (it’s even easy) to get the money you spent for Canadian GST refunded to you after you come home to America!”
“No,” you say. “Most certainly!” I reply. If you anticipate a trip to Canada in your future, you’ll want to bookmark this link: GET YOUR MONEY BACK! There are very precise instructions and a form there that will allow you to claim your money back from the government of Canada. I’ve done it, and it’s easy. I usually get a check back within three weeks. It’s even printed on a lovely colored Canadian check that looks very official and everything!
All you need to do is keep the original receipts for all of the goods and services you purchase while you’re up there. Hotel receipts are acceptable. The only goods and/or services that you cannot claim your GST for are things you consume while you’re still there (meals, beer, etc). Still, a full week in a nice Canadian hotel can ring up a couple of hundred U.S. dollars in GST.
I wish Steve had a claim form. Maybe his wife does… I’ll ask her!
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.