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Maria_H Jun 3rd, 2005 03:49 AM

More money questions for Rockies visit
It has been suggested that we take money in a combination of cash, travellers cheques and by using ATMs. Is it best for us to get our travellers cheques in Canadian Dollars or will UK sterling ones be widely accepted? Does anyone know if we are likely to get a better exchange rate over there or in the UK?

Also, I believe it is possible for us to reclaim Canadian GST on certain goods and hotel bills. Does anyone know the procedure for doing this and when would we get the refund?

Thanks in advance, Maria

tom22 Jun 3rd, 2005 04:27 AM

You should use traveller cheques issued in CAD. You can use them like cash and pay in all supermarkets, hotels and restaurants with a cheques in CAD.

A cheques in Sterling is only excepted at a bank and makes you very unflexible.

GST refund is possible for all accomodations and export of goods (with a value > 50 CAD). Just save your receipt.

Find more information about the rules under

Be carefull with the formulars offered by the shops. They refer to a third party service operator and they will charge you with an extra fee on the tax refund.

The official tax refund is free of charge.

Judy_in_Calgary Jun 3rd, 2005 09:55 AM

Tom is correct that you'll be able to use Canadian dollar travellers cheques in hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.

However, if you're bringing TCs only as a back up and are intending to use a credit card to pay for your rental car and hotels and a debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs to cover incidental expenses, you could consider bringing TCs in a more universally accepted currency (e.g., Euros or US dollars). If you don't use your TCs on this upcoming trip, and if they're in a widely accepted currency, you could take them on future trips to other destinations.

My husband and I have some US dollar TCs that have made several trips with us to a variety of destinations but that have not yet been used.

Judy_in_Calgary Jun 3rd, 2005 10:01 AM

I think the average foreign couple who spend two weeks in Canada, if they donít make major purchases, will be eligible for a rebate of about C$100 or £45.

Iíve never applied for the GST rebate. Iím not eligible for it, because I live here. However, Iíve seen a couple who have visited us from overseas assembling their receipts the night before they left for the airport. It struck me as quite a lot of work, but I guess it was worth it in their case because they had made some major purchases in Canada.

This will be a long message, so I will split it into a couple of posts.

Although Iíve never applied for the GST rebate, I think the process would involve the following steps:

1. Before leaving home, print out the Canadian governmentís form, which is here:

However, I donít know how Europeans are supposed to print the form because you use A4-sized paper (210 mm x 297 mm), but Canada uses North American letter-sized paper (215.9 mm x 279.4 mm). Maybe you can get away with printing it on A4 paper, which is 6 mm narrower than ours, and cutting the A4 paperís length down to 280 mm).

In racks that display tourist brochures (in hotel lobbies, for instance) there are official-looking forms for applying for the GST rebate. In many cases, those forms are not government-issued forms, but rather forms published by the "third party" companies to which Tom was referring. When you mail one of those forms, it goes to a third party company that applies for the rebate on your behalf and skims off a fee before remitting the rebate to you.

Alternatively, you can go to the duty-free store at Calgary Airport when you arrive from the UK, as the government web site says that duty-free stores have the government-issued form. Provincial tourism offices also carry the government-issued form, so I assume the tourism information offices in Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper carry the government-issued form.

More .....

Judy_in_Calgary Jun 3rd, 2005 10:04 AM

2. When youíre packing for your trip, include a large envelope and a couple of large paper clips. A pocket calculator would not go amiss.

3. At the end of your vacation, probably the night before you leave for the airport, assemble your eligible receipts (receipts for accommodation and receipts for goods that youíll be taking out of Canada). GST on products that youíve consumed while youíve been in Canada (restaurant meals, gasoline, etc.) is not eligible for the rebate. In the case of goods that youíll be removing from Canada, the total amount of each receipt (the price of the item combined with the GST) has to be a minimum of C$50. The C$50 can be made up of several small purchases that youíve made at the same store and that youíve paid for all at once.

4. Divide your eligible receipts into two piles, one pile for accommodation and one pile for goods.

5. Add up and enter the GST youíve paid for accommodation and the GST that youíve paid on purchases.

6. When you are identifying the GST on each hotel bill, note that you can claim only the GST youíve paid on accommodation. The hotel bill will itemize GST on incidental costs (restaurant meals, room service, phone calls, etc.) as a separate line item. The GST on those other items is not eligible for the rebate.

7. You have the option of using a quick calculation method for figuring the GST on your accommodation. You can claim a flat rate of C$5 per room per night (not per person) to a maximum of C$75 per application. If you opt for the quick calculation method, you must use it for all of your hotel bills. You must attach receipts even if you use the quick calculation method.

8. The GST rebate program applies only to the federal governmentís 7% GST (goods and services tax). It does not apply to provincial sales tax (PST). Alberta does not have a provincial sales tax on food, gasoline, goods, etc. However, Alberta DOES have a 5% hotel tax. The Alberta Hotel Tax is not eligible for the GST rebate.

9. Youíll notice that the GST rebate application form refers to HST. That stands for Harmonized Sales Tax. It applies to provinces that have combined the federal GST and the PST into a single amount on a receipt. As I understand it, the people who administer the GST rebate program strip the PST from the HST and give a rebate on the GST portion only. However, that will not apply to your visit to Alberta, since Alberta has neither a PST nor an HST.

10. Attach the ORIGINAL receipts to the GST rebate claim form.


Judy_in_Calgary Jun 3rd, 2005 10:09 AM

11. When you go to the airport, go to the GST rebate desk before you check in for your flight. A government official needs to satisfy him/herself that you are leaving Canada and that you are removing from Canada the goods that youíre claiming youíve purchased in Canada. Although I do not believe the official will demand to see the goods, he/she is authorized to view them if he/she so decides. The official will stamp your claim form.

12. After your form has been stamped, you need to mail it, along with the original receipts, which will not be returned to you, to:

Visitor Rebate Program
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Summerside Tax Centre
Suite 104
275 Pope Road
Summerside PE C1N 6C6

You can mail the form and the receipts from the airport. But then you need Canadian stamps, and purchasing them is yet another step. The envelope undoubtedly will be over the size and weight restrictions for a regular letter, so youíll need to have it weighed at a post office. If itís any consolation, there are postal services at Calgary Airport.

You also can mail the form and receipts from your home country (provided that the form has that stamp from the airport official on it). It may be an idea to wait a while before mailing the GST rebate application form, because you might need the receipts to reconcile your next credit card statement. (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency must receive your claim within one year of the date on which you exported goods from Canada.)

Iíve heard it takes about 6 weeks for the rebate cheque to arrive. The cheque is issued in the currency of your home country.

By the way, if you have a non-stop flight from Canada to the UK, youíre okay. However, if you have a change of planes at another Canadian airport on your way out of the country, you have to get the stamp on your GST rebate form at the last Canadian airport through which you pass. For example, some passengers fly Calgary Ė Toronto Ė London. In that case they have to go through this GST rigmarole in Toronto, which precludes checking their luggage all the way through from Calgary to London. That sounds like a nuisance to me.

So, after all that, I donít know how attractive the GST rebate program looks to you.

bob_brown Jun 3rd, 2005 01:49 PM

What do you need traveler's checks for?
I haven't taken a tc to Canada since 1987.
Since the introduction of aTMs, I have not needed anything else, EXCEPT at Lake Louise where there is no bank and the ATM is a franchise deal that would not accept my ATM.

I am not sure what the UK ATMs do, but my Bank of America checking account lets me get the money for 1% above the wholesale bank rate.

If you cash a TC, you pay a fee for cashing it plus you don't get the wholesale rate of exchange that you do with an ATM card.

I use credit cards, too.
Also, Scotia Bank is an affiliate with B of America. Barclays is the affilitate in the UK. You might ask your bank in the UK who its partner is in Canada.
That way, you don't get hit with an off net transaction fee, if that is a factor.

Other than that silly machine at Lake Louise, I have had no trouble.
Banff is well supplied with banks - big ones like the Bank of Montreal.

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