Tag Archives: travel

Canadian Letter of Invitation and Border Considerations

My company is hosting an event in Whistler, B.C., and will be employing an American band as entertainment for the event. I understand that they will need a Letter of Invitation, but does the band need to show a contract for performance at customs? Do you see any other issues with them crossing?

Any border crossing is fraught with several “issues.” In order to facilitate the border crossing of an American band into Canada, the following issues should be considered:

  • Obviously, a passport or other acceptable form of travel document will be required at the border.
  • A Letter of Invitation from the employer in Canada is required because the band members will be considered as business visitors. The letter must include information about the person(s) being invited including full names, dates of birth (if known), purpose of the trip, and length of time in Canada. The Letter of Invitation should be on organizational letterhead and include a brief description of the event, as well as the employer, and be signed by a responsible person in the organization. If group members are not arriving together, everyone in the group should have a copy of the Letter of Invitation.
  • In addition to the Letter of Invitation, an American group coming into Canada should have with them a copy of their performance contract.
  • At the border, the group members will normally be asked the purpose of their trip, how long they will be in Canada, where they will be staying, what they do for a living, and if they have anything to declare. They may have to confirm that they will be returning to the US (showing a return flight reservation, for example).
  • If the group is bringing in equipment into the country, then they should, at the very least, have an itemized inventory of the gear. Also, get the list stamped at US Customs before entering Canada, so that when the group returns to the US, there will be no problems bringing the equipment back into the country.
  • If the group is bringing in CDs or other promotional items, they need to be declared at the border and properly labeled with country of manufacture. Having a copy of the manufacturing invoice is recommended. Customs duties may apply, based on the manufacturing price, not on the sale price. If the items are for promotional purposes they should be labeled: “For Promotion ONLY; Not for Sale.”
  • If anyone in the group has a criminal record (felony or misdemeanor), including past driving under the influence (DUI) violations, this may impede entry. If it has been less than five years since a charge or conviction, persons will be deemed “criminally inadmissible” to Canada and a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is required, instead of a work permit. If five years have passed, the person may apply for “Individual Rehabilitation.” However, individuals from visa-exempt countries (e.g., the US) who have a single misdemeanor offense for which they were not sentenced to imprisonment, may be issued a TRP at the Canadian port of entry at the discretion of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). For more details about entering Canada with a criminal record visit: www.cfmusicians.org/services/work-permits.
  • A final consideration is the fact that there is a regulatory 15% withholding on fees to foreign artists in Canada. To avoid this withholding, artists can apply for an R-105 waiver at least 45 days before the performance date.

We welcome foreign artists in Canada and hope their border crossings are made easier by dealing with these considerations.

I welcome your questions and concerns. Please write to me at: robert@bairdartists.com.

TSA at Fault for Broken Bass

In September, yet another union bassist has reported his instrument destroyed in transit. Milton Masciadri of Local 148-462 (Atlanta, GA) reported that his rare 1690 Testore bass was smashed and its neck broken upon arrival in Little Rock, Arkansas, for a recital. Masciadri believes that careless Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inspectors are at fault. After checking it in, the instrument was sent to TSA for inspection. When it arrived in Arkansas, he discovered that TSA had failed to put back security belts that kept the instrument in place. As the airline would have had no reason to open the case, it is likely TSA is at fault. Masciadri is a professor at the University of Geogia.

Air Canada is the Official Airline to Nine Canadian Symphony Orchestras

Air Canada today announced it has added Symphony Nova Scotia and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra to its roster of Canadian symphony orchestras it supports from coast to coast. The airline is offering special policies to ease its customer travel experience.

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with Symphony Nova Scotia and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, making Air Canada the Official Airline of nine of the country’s leading symphony orchestras coast to coast,” says Craig Landry, Air Canada’s vice president of marketing. “As a proud Canadian brand, we believe in supporting these pre-eminent arts organizations to help enrich and engage audiences across this country.”

In addition to Symphony Nova Scotia and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Air Canada is official airline to: Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

“We are also pleased to introduce industry-leading enhancements for all our customers travelling with carry-on instruments, including pre-boarding benefits and a generous discount when purchasing an additional seat for their instrument,” concludes Landry. Customers may purchase a seat at a 50% discount off any published fare, including the lowest Tango fares, to accommodate a musical instrument.

“Meanwhile, the CFM [Canadian Federation of Musicians] is committed to continued lobbying of the government of Canada to harmonize with the US regulated FAA carry-on act. We have met and lobbied each and every stakeholder, including all National Airline Councils, Minister of Transport office, Canadian Transport Agency, and The Canadian Transport Review,” says Allistair Elliott, AFM International Representative, Canada. “All stakeholders are very aware of our position and the need for a unified policy and we are ready to continue all our efforts after the federal election.”

Minnesota Orchestra Plans Trip to Cuba

Minnesota Orchestra may be the first US orchestra to play in Cuba, following the announcement of normalization of relations with the country. Musicians agreed to postpone a vacation week in order to schedule the trip, which was funded by board member Marilyn Carlson Nelson and her husband, Glen Nelson. The orchestra has two concerts programmed at the Cubadisco Festival in May. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is the most recent US orchestra to perform in Cuba. That trip took place in 1999.

Time to Think About Tax Refunds

by Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!)


It’s a new year and it’s time to start thinking about getting a refund of taxes withheld in a foreign country by filing a nonresident tax return.

Dear Crossing Borders,

To file taxes in the US to apply for a refund, what kind of paperwork do we need to ask promoters for? Should we be receiving copies of the forms they will be sending to the IRS? It’s my understanding that we should receive a notice from the IRS early in 2015, which will summarize the total amount that we’ve had withheld over the course of 2014. Is that correct?

First of all, it is a good idea to file a nonresident tax return if and when you work in another country. In fact, it’s the only way to get a refund of taxes that may have been withheld. We will deal with the requirements for the US and Canada separately.

United States

In the US, there is no requirement to file a nonresident tax return unless tax is owing. For work done in the US, you should receive a Form 1099 from whoever engaged you to perform. The IRS will not send you a summary of the amounts withheld; it is your responsibility to file for a refund of taxes withheld. The 1099s should be attached to your US tax return.

The US tax return for nonresidents is either a Form 1040-NR or a Form 1040-NR-EZ. If you wish to claim a refund of taxes that were withheld, you need to file a Form 1040NR. However, you do not need to file Form 1040NR if:

1) Your only U.S. trade or business was the performance of personal services; and

2) Your wages were less than $3,900; and

3) You have no other need to file a return to claim a refund of over-withheld taxes, to satisfy additional withholding at source, or to claim income exempt or partly exempt by treaty.

The Form 1040NR-EZ can be used if income from US sources is wages, salaries, and tips, refunds of state and local income taxes, and scholarship or fellowship grants. In addition, you may have to file a Form 8833 to claim certain Tax Treaty rights.

All nonresident tax filings go to Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Austin, TX  73301-0215. In order to file a nonresident US tax return you will need to have an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).


You are required to file a nonresident tax return if you owe tax, if you are requested to by Revenue Tax RefundsCanada, if you wish to claim a refund, or if you were granted a Tax Waiver. Not only is there a stiff penalty for failure to file a return, but arrears interest adds insult to injury, as it were. And, if you applied for and were granted a waiver in Canada, then a tax filing is required before further waivers will be considered.

For individuals, this means the filing of a T-1 Non-Resident return with a Schedule A Statement of World Income attached, along with any T4A-NR slips you received from Canadian venues. You will need to apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) when you file.

For businesses, you must file a T2 Non-resident return along with certain Schedules, a T4A-NR Summary (if you issued any T4A-NR slips to employees or subcontractors) and any T4A-NR slips you may have received. Businesses also need to apply for a Business Number for:

  • goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST);
  • payroll;
  • import/export; or
  • corporation income tax.

For both individuals and businesses in Canada, you can appoint a representative who will deal with Revenue Canada on your behalf and many nonresidents choose to do this, rather than have to deal with the culture and regulations of a foreign country.

All nonresident matters in Canada are dealt with in Ottawa. You can reach the International Tax and Non-resident Section by calling toll-free 1-800-959-8281 (individuals) or 1-800-959-5525 (businesses) and all nonresident filings go to International Tax Services, Revenue Canada, Post Office Box 9769, Station T, Ottawa ON  K1G 3Y4 CANADA.

Dealing with taxation is difficult enough in your own country, but performers should realize that keeping tax filings up to date in a foreign country just makes good business sense. Get your paperwork in order early and remember that the deadline for nonresident filings in both the US and Canada is June 15.

I welcome your questions and concerns. Please write to me at: robert@bairdartists.com. While I cannot answer every question I receive in this column, I will feature as many as I can and I promise to answer each and every e-mail I receive.

Violinist Fined $120K for Not Declaring Instruments

According to the CBC, Canadian musician Yosuke Kawasaki of Local 180 (Ottawa, ON) was fined $120,000 Can, plus PST, for not declaring his instruments—a $385,000 violin and three bows worth $90,000, $6,800, and $2,000. Born and trained in New York, Kawasaki is concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. The instruments were initially seized, but he was able to regain custody by making a $20,000 partial payment. Court documents indicate that he is asking to have that deposit refunded.