Category: Guest Post

How To Travel With Exotic Pets Like Snakes And Tarantulas

This is a guest post by Richard Adams, a reptile keeper with over 25 years of experience who writes about caring for all sorts of creatures on his website Keeping Exotic Pets.

ball python travel

At the beginning of the year I made just one New Year’s Resolution: to take the summer off and explore France from my home in Sussex, England. The only problem in this otherwise life-changing plan were my four beautiful pet snakes and an assortment of random tarantulas. Sure, I could leave them at home for a few weeks: but what about the four months I was planning?

I could pay a pet sitter but they’re expensive or I could convince a friend. (Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t very successful with the latter.) This just left one good option: take the “zoo” with me – which is exactly what I did. These are my own tips garnered from traveling with three ball pythons measuring up to four and a half feet long, a milk snake called Kermit, and ten different tarantulas.

Check Company Rules And Legal Regulations

As a Brit, there are three main options for getting to France: by air, Channel Tunnel, or ferry. With the snakes and spiders, ferry was the most practical and cost-effective solution. Based in Sussex, this meant a drive of just over an hour to Portsmouth Harbour in order to catch the ferry. I packed up all the animals in my car, drove them onto the ferry, and straight off again at the other end. I chose an overnight crossing, departing around 11pm and arriving into Caen, in northern France, early the next morning. Booking early enough, comfy cabins were available for catching some sleep.

When transporting “exotic pets” there are two kinds of rules that you’ll need to abide by. The first of these are the rules set by each ferry company. Pay close attention to these, as the last thing you want is to be turned back at port. Personally, I traveled with Brittany Ferries. The process was quite simple, and just involved booking online, then contacting their customer service team with my booking reference to let them know what I would be carrying.

Richard Adams reptile keeper

As long as the animals remain safely locked in your car during the journey then there should be no issues. I also made to sure to place my pets in my trunk, to avoid startling any other passengers who may not share my enthusiasm for scaly animals!

The second set of regulations to be aware of are import and export rules. Fortunately, traveling within the EU is reasonably simple. Even though some of the species I was transporting are protected – registered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) – my experience is that registration should prevent any problems as long as you’re not planning to sell your pets.

Of course, if you are traveling outside the EU, the rules are far more stringent. In those cases you will need to make sure you have the necessary certifications to prove their captive-bred status. I recommend double-checking with the authorities to ensure that you have written confirmation that your pets may leave and enter. This needn’t be too problematic; in the UK, for example, a quick email to Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) should suffice.

traveling with snakes

I gathered all of these emails into a document wallet, ready for inspection if necessary. As it turned out, the process at both ends went very smoothly and no proof was necessary. Still, it’s better to be over-prepared, especially since port authorities only deal with exotic pets rarely. If a query arises, you want to have the answer ready and waiting for them.

Accommodating Exotic Pets

The good news about holiday properties in Europe is that many are pet friendly. I opted to rent a villa just outside Cognac, checking with the landlady in advance that she was fine about the reptiles. While understandably a little hesitant, I have always found it handy to remind property owners that reptiles are kept shut away pretty much the whole time, and therefore don’t produce the smell, hair and mess that dog owners often leave behind. Snakes also aren’t known for chewing the furniture!

For more difficult properties, consider offering an additional deposit. If you’re keeping your reptiles well, there shouldn’t be a real risk of losing your money.

Remember, the earlier you start planning, the more properties will be available. You may have to try a number of landlords before you find someone willing to accept exotic pets, so be prepared to hunt around. Personally, I started looking at options in late February for a May arrival; even then many were already booked out. Leaving things to the last minute might leave you with only properties that won’t take reptiles.

Preparing Exotic Animals For Travel

Just as with other pets, you’ll want to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your animals. Unlike people traveling with dogs, however, getting your pet out of their cage en route is likely to lead to some odd looks at best, and at worst shrieks of fear. Planning ahead for the journey is therefore critical.

traveling with tarantula

While many people transport snakes in fabric bags, I opted to use plastic containers in two sizes. Large ones that the snakes would live in while at the villa and smaller ones for the tarantulas. To save space in the car and prevent damage to the snakes during transportation, each snake was placed into one of the smaller tarantula tubs for travel. The tarantulas were placed into small plastic pots, and the large snake tubs were then used to pack our belongings.

  • Feed After Not Before – Snakes in particular can be quite sensitive after eating, so it is recommended that you hold off feeding your pets for a few days before travel.
  • Stay Cool – During transit, try to ensure that your pets remain at a suitable temperature. This means avoiding parking in direct sunlight, keeping them safely shaded at all times, and using your air conditioning if necessary.

The most critical time in the transportation of exotics is arrival at your destination. Your pets must be the primary concern at this point, and getting them suitably housed should be your first action. For this reason, I made sure to have all my pet supplies ready for action the moment we arrived. In this way, within an hour of arriving at our villa every animal had been health checked and successfully rehoused into an appropriate cage.

Finding Supplies, Pet Food, And Equipment

Possibly the most complicated thing about transporting reptiles is finding suitable supplies when you reach your destination. For example, will you be able to buy frozen rodents for your python, or crickets for your tarantula?

Clearly, there are two options here. The first of these is that you can take as much equipment with you as possible. There are, of course, limitations here on how much you can fit in your car. In my case I decided to take with me just the basics, such as a big bag of snake bedding and water bowls for all the animals. This allowed me to set them all up properly on arrival, rather than having to go shopping first. The other solution is to buy reptile supplies in the country you are visiting, but in my experience finding reptile shops abroad can be challenging. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to order reptile supplies online; even in a foreign country.

Personally, I spent some time researching French e-commerce sites before leaving home. Use Google Chrome as your browser and you’ll find that foreign-language websites are quickly translated into your native language, allowing you to order online in a new country. If you have a Paypal account you’ll find it easy to make payment. I was also surprised to find that your native Amazon company (in my case Amazon.co.uk) will also ship overseas if you’re willing to pay the shipping fees. This dealt with the longer term supplies.

traveling with large spiders

As a tip, I used a company called Zanimo Exotic to provide my reptile food; delivery is quite slow (order by Friday for dispatch the following Wednesday) and couriers in France are expensive, but the quality and reliability was good. My suggestion would be to order in bulk to save money on shipping fees.

Exotic Pets Don’t Mean You Can’t Travel

Next week, I head back to the UK after a four month stay in France. It’s an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life; the weather, the food, the people, the wildlife. More importantly however, my reptiles are as fit and healthy as ever – indeed I would say the warm weather we’ve enjoyed here has been a benefit for them.

There are two important take-home points from my own experiences this summer. Firstly, don’t let pet ownership affect your travel plans. There are many ways to combine pet ownership and travel, so you don’t necessarily have to compromise. Secondly, don’t assume that if your pet is a little “alternative” you can’t take them abroad. As my experience has shown, it is definitely possible to take a menagerie of animals abroad with a little research and forward planning. In most cases you will be able to handle the process yourself; worst case scenario don’t forget that there are numerous pet travel companies now who will help you complete all the necessary paperwork and guide you through the transportation process.

So, next time you’re on vacation and pull up next to a car with a foreign registration plate, spare a thought for us reptile keepers. You might just be standing closer than you realized to a beautiful python or a tarantula the size of a dinner plate. Bon voyage!

Thank you Richard for sharing your expertise on exotic pets with us! Richard writes much more about the wonderful world of exotic pets, including his particular passion for tarantulas, on his blog Keeping Exotic Pets.

A Potterhead Shares 5 Things You Must Do When Visiting Harry Potter World In Orlando

This is a guest post by 16 year old writer and #1 Potterhead Brian Selcik, a student at the Metropolitan School of the Arts. Brian has previously been a guest here before, writing how you can plan your very own Harry Potter tour in London. He’s visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando 4 times and shares what he’s learned from experience to make your trip there even more magical.

harry potter wizarding world

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (we’ll call it Harry Potter World) is one of the most magical experiences for fans of all levels. Whether you’re simply a movie watcher (I’ll try to forgive you) or a super fan like me, everyone will enjoy the magic that Universal has to offer. As amazing as it is, there are some things you should know before visiting Harry Potter World.

1. Use Early-Admission (You May Already Have It)

Starting your day early is a very important factor. The earlier you get there, the less you have to wait for rides in the morning. The lines, especially in the summer, are incredibly long (and hot). If you can get to the parks as soon as possible in the morning, you can jump in the lines quickly and only have to wait about 30 minutes. This photo was taken bright and early at 8:47 a.m:

harry potter world

If you’re staying at any of the Universal Orlando on-site hotels, you almost certainly have early admission to Harry Potter World included with your accommodation. This lets you get into the park an hour (sometimes two) earlier than everyone else.

I would recommend doing Gringotts because that line probably reaches the longest wait time out of all the Harry Potter rides. After you’ve experienced the full queue, you can just hop in the single rider line from there on out.

2. Hop In Single-Rider Lanes For Much Shorter Wait Times

Single rider lines are available for the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and the Forbidden Journey rides. Essentially, single rider lines offer a shorter wait time since they’re used to fill in people-gaps on the rides, but you won’t be sitting with your party. For instance, if there’s a party of three going on the Forbidden Journey, they’ll fill in the fourth seat with a single rider. One thing to note: you won’t be able to experience the full queue (there are surprises along the way) with single rider lines, so if you can get that experience in the morning, it’s worth it.

3. Switch To Gringotts Bank Notes

If you plan to buy merchandise, bring money. Lots of it. All the galleons, sickles, and knuts that will fit into your bag… or you can transfer your muggle money into Gringotts bank notes at the Gringotts Money Exchange located in Diagon Alley. Just know that these bank notes can only be used in Harry Potter World. There isn’t requirement at to exchange your money at all, it is simply a novelty but for super fans and kids, a nice addition to the Potter experience.

4. GET BUTTERBEER! ALL THE BUTTERBEERS!

harry potter world snapchat

Regular butterbeer, frozen butterbeer, hot butterbeer, butterbeer potted cream, butterbeer ice cream, butterbeer fudge, OH MY DUMBLEDORE IT’S A BUTTERBEER EXTRAVAGANZA. Get it ALL. I quite like butterbeer, if you couldn’t tell.

5. Cool Off In Honeydukes Alleyway

honeydukes alleyway

Just located near the entrance to Hogsmeade is Honeydukes Sweet Shoppe. If you walk just past it, and make a left and another left, there is a small alleyway type location. It’s quiet and makes you feel as if you really are in the Wizarding World. Stand there, breathe in the magical air, hold your wand and live your best life as the wizard you are. Also, it’s usually cool/air conditioned. You’re welcome!

Thank you very much Brian for all the tips for visiting muggles! You can find more of Brian on the Harry Potter Fansite MuggleNet and he also runs an Etsy shop where you can purchase hand knit goods.

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2017.

A 15 Year Old Explains How To Get Hamilton Tickets Easily For List Price

This is a guest post by 15 year old writer and #1 Potterhead Brian Selcik, a student at the Metropolitan School of the Arts. Brian has previously been a guest here before, writing how you can plan your very own Harry Potter tour in London. He also works for the Harry Potter Fansite MuggleNet and runs an Etsy shop where you can purchase hand knit goods.

hamilton broadway playbill

Hamilton is a great Broadway show that will live up to your expectations but you have to get your hands on some very elusive tickets first. For most people, finding Hamilton tickets isn’t easy or inexpensive but I was able to get tickets for my family and friends at list price, rather quickly, using a simple trick.

Here’s how I was able to get those most-wanted tickets for Hamilton on Broadway without paying an extra cent and how you can too.

Start Subscribing

I follow Hamilton’s Twitter page where they post a lot of Hamilton related content but also occasionally announce ticket specials. Those specials sell out very quickly so when I was actively looking for Hamilton tickets, I turned on notifications for all of the tweets from the Hamilton Twitter account.

1. To do the same, the first step is to follow @HamiltonMusical on Twitter.

hamilton broadway twitter

2. Now, activate notifications for all the Hamilton tweets so you can react fast when they have a ticket deal. To do so, click on the bell icon (it’s near their profile picture).

twitter notifications bell

3. Don’t forget to select ‘All Tweets‘ under Account Notifications.

twitter account notifications

This past spring I got a notification from Hamilton on my phone saying that a block of tickets would be released in 10 minutes for shows from November to January. I immediately followed the link they posted to their site to confirm what I was seeing – sure enough there were the tickets!

I clicked ‘Book Tickets‘ right away before the ten minutes to find they were already available. It’s important whenever Hamilton release a block of tickets on Twitter to check as soon as they announce it.

I called my travel partner and best friend, and confirmed that we were going to go. We quickly decided on a date and purchased our tickets for the list price ($200 per ticket). This may seem like a lot, but we chose great seats and tickets prices before this were ranging up to $5,000, so we were beyond thrilled.

hamilton play

Other, Less Reliable Options

You can also get email notifications by signing up through HamiltonBroadway.com. There will only be an option to enter your email if there are no tickets available. The email notifications are much slower that Twitter, so chances are you won’t be able to use them to get a ticket deal before they sell out. Liking the Hamilton Facebook page is another option but the least effective one if you are interested in taking advantage of ticket deals.

Hamilton was great, worth every bit the small effort I had to put in to find tickets at normal prices. Seeing Hamilton is a wonderful experience if you are planning a trip to New York City that won’t disappoint! Now you know how to get tickets to the show without having to pay the very high resale prices.

Thank you very much Brian for sharing your Hamilton travel trick with us! You can find Brian working behind the wizarding scenes of MuggleNet on Facebook and help support his next adventure by checking out his Etsy page.

How To Fly With Your Dog And Make Sure You Both Have A Great Flight

This is a guest post by Stephanie Yoder, a girl who can’t sit still! She writes about everything related to Millennial travel at Why Wait to See the World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel).

pug on a train

Owning a dog is just the best: long walks and cuddles on the couch from an eternally loyal best friend. The only huge drawback is that it makes it much harder to travel. Unlike a cat, you can’t just leave your dog alone with a bucket of food, a litter box and then hope for the best. You’ll need to leave him the care of a dog-sitter or at an expensive kennel. It can really cut into your travel budget.

Unless… you take your dog with you. It’s not the easiest, and not the most enjoyable for some dogs, but it is worth it when traveling with your dog is the best or the only option. Last year we took our funny little terrier Leo across the country and back again. It wasn’t a difficult process, but here is what you need to know.

Know the Rules

Every airline has slightly different rules for traveling with pets in the cabin. Some don’t allow it at all, and those that do generally have weight and breed restrictions. Unlike babies, dogs don’t fly for free. There is usually a fee per flight that can range from $30-$500.

traveling terrier

Usually the cap is about 9 kilograms (20 pounds) – although in my experience there is a little wiggle room as they don’t usually weigh your dog at check in. Larger dogs will have to fly in kennels under the plane. Some airlines also have restrictions against  brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds of dogs, which are more prone to respiratory issues while flying. Breeds like pugs, Boston terriers and bull dogs might run afoul of these rules.

Aside from that, your dog’s presence on the flight is subject to availability. Most airlines only allow a handful of in-cabin animals on a single flight. Makes sure you call and check that there is space available on the flight, and that you reserve both of your travel at the same time. Call again 24 hours before your flight to remind them you are traveling with a dog.

Talk to Your Vet

Most airlines will require a health certificate from your veterinarian issued within 7 days of departure (you don’t need  a second certificate for your journey home even if it is outside that time frame). You might need immunization records if you are traveling internationally.

In my experience, airline personnel usually don’t ask to see these records but you will want to have them just in case. If you don’t produce them, you’re dog could be barred from the flight.

terrier

While you’re at the vet, take some time to talk about the best method for keeping your dog calm during the flight. Some people choose to sedate their pets with low doses of Xanax, but you may want to do a test run first since it can hype some dogs up. Your vet may have some other ideas on non-medical ways to keep your pet calm depending on their health and temperament.

We chose not to medicate our dog, and tried some essential oils to calm him. The oils did nothing, so we kept him calm but talking to him during the flight, feeding him treats and stroking his head.

Prep Your Pooch

Traveling on a plane can be a pretty scary experience for a dog. It’s loud, and confusing, and smells kind of weird. You will want to do everything you can to make them as comfortable as possible.

terrier at the beach

Get your dog a comfy soft crate (make sure it fits airline restrictions for fitting under the seat). It should be big enough for them to turn around comfortably and the sides should be ventilated. Give your dog the chance to get used to the carrier, have them spend some time in there each day and reward them with treats. It’s a good idea to have them hang out in there while in motion as well- take a car ride with them.

Before our flight we spent weeks practicing with Leo. He would sit in the crate and we would shower him with treats and praise until he started to actually enjoy that space. We laid down extra padding and put a couple of his favorite toys in there. We also lined the bottom with absorbent puppy pads in case he had an accident in transit (which he never did).

On the Day

On the day you are flying, feed your dog 4 hours before departure, so that they have enough time to digest and pass their food. Give them lots of water to drink so they don’t get dehydrated during the flight.  Take them for a very long walk if you have time, to work off some energy.

Check in early for your flight. Most airports have some sort of designated pet area where your pooch can relieve themselves before the big flight. Once you’re up in the air, do your best to help your pet stay calm. They will probably need to stay in their crate under the seat for the whole flight but you can reach down and talk to and comfort them.

When you’ve arrived at your destination and de-boarded you can finally let your friend go free. Take them outside for some fresh air and breathe a sigh of relief – you made it!

Thank you very much Stephanie for this guest post! Stephanie writes about travel for millennials on her website, Why Wait To See The World. You can also follow Why Wait To See The World on Facebook, Twitter @whywaitworld, and Instagram.

How Travel Changes From Your Twenties To Your Thirties

This is a guest post by Stephanie Yoder, a girl who can’t sit still! She writes about everything related to Millennial travel at Why Wait to See the World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). 

stephanie yoder

I started traveling prolifically in my early twenties. A semester studying abroad in London gave me a taste of the freedom, and discovery, that comes with international travel. And I was hooked. I spent the next ten years working, living and traveling abroad as much as I could.

Along the way I met a similarly travel-loving guy, married him, got an apartment and a dog in Seattle and (like everyone eventually does) I turned 30. A couple years later I had a baby. While my wanderlust never changed, my life did. As a result, the way I travel has changed significantly too. Many things have stayed the same: I still love to walk until my feet hurt, stuff my face with local food and explore off the beaten path. At the same time, I thought I’d list what’s different now, and why.

Now I’ll give you a caveat that your results may vary. There are plenty of free-wheeling, young at heart thirty and forty-somethings, just as there are 23 year-olds with serious responsibility.

Changing Priorities

In my twenties, I didn’t have a ton of responsibilities beyond keeping myself alive and not going any deeper into debt than necessary. Otherwise, my major goal was simply to travel as much as humanly possible. All of my spare time and most of my money went towards planning my next escape.

why wait to see the world

Now I have a million things to think about besides stamps in my passport, starting with, but not limited to,: my career, my family, can I afford rent this month and who is going to watch my dog? That doesn’t mean travel isn’t on my radar, it just makes it harder to take off on a whim, consequences be damned.

More Selective

As a result of the above, it’s not so easy to just take off for any old reason. With limited time and money, I need to be selective about the trips I take.

In my twenties I would grab any available opportunity: girl’s trip to Puerto Rico? Last minute cheap fair to Europe? Impromptu road trip? I was always game. I racked up stamps in my passport and saw a good chunk of the world this way.

why wait to see the world yoder

Now, I plan my travels ahead of time, and I pick what I want to do more carefully. I’m not going to waste precious money and vacation days to go somewhere I’ve already been or don’t really care about. I would much rather save up my resources for a trip I’m really excited about, like our three week babymoon to Japan last year.

Less Late Nights, More Early Mornings

You never realize how much energy you have until it’s gone. When I was a young twenty-something backpacker, drinking late into the night with locals or other backpackers was the norm. I’d compensate by sleeping in (well, as much as you can sleep in in a hostel dorm room). I saw the sights, but this was usually secondary to socializing.

Now that I’m in my thirties, I appreciate the merits of a good night’s sleep, and staying up until the early morning drinking is much less appealing. Hangovers last longer when you’re older, and it takes less to get there. Now I’m all about one or two craft cocktails or local beers, a hearty meal, and an early bedtime. I’d rather save my energy for  getting up early to explore my surroundings.

A Higher Standard of Living

One of the bonuses to traveling in my thirties? My budget is bigger. Because my trips are usually shorter and because I have a job supporting me, I have more money to spend on each trip.

travel in twenties thirties

I’m nowhere near a luxury traveler, but having some extra funds enhances my travels in a multitude of ways. Instead of cramped hostel dorm rooms, I’m staying in a comfy apartment rental. Instead of cooking spaghetti in a group kitchen, I can afford to go out for a nice local meal. I have more money to spend on special excursions and tours, and I can pick up a nice souvenir to take home.

I also have the means to make my travels more inclusive. I used to travel alone (and sometimes I still do), but over the years my travel style has expanded to include my husband, my daughter, and even my dog. In 2014 I took my Mom on an Alaskan Cruise, and it was amazing to spend that time bonding with her.

More Confidence

Perhaps the best part of traveling in my thirties is that after over a decade of travel, I really know myself really, really, well. I know the sort of things I enjoy (beautiful cities, rich cultures, good food), and the stuff I really don’t (party islands, loud hostels and skiing). I know that I get sick at high altitudes, and that I vastly prefer warm weather destinations to chilly ones. I know what I like, and I’m willing to go the extra mile to find it.

Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t try new things. It’s just that when you clear out what you’re not interested in, all sorts of new possibilities emerge. In the past few years, I’ve taken trips that never would have occurred to me in my twenties. I went to Vancouver to watch the Women’s World Cup, I saw wild elephants grazing in Sri Lanka, and I ate sushi (at 5 months pregnant) in Tokyo. When I first visited Japan at 26 I wouldn’t even touch raw fish.

Are things better or worse now? I think they are just different. Sometimes I miss the freewheeling, spontaneous fun of my twenties, but I also really appreciate my current, more thoughtful and experienced travel style – and the family I now have to share it with. In the end I don’t think it matters so much what age you choose to see the world, just that you are getting out there at all.

Thank you very much Stephanie for this guest post decades in the making. Stephanie is right, no matter how young or old you are, traveling can open you up to many new insights and experiences. Stephanie writes about this very topic on her website, Why Wait To See The World. You can also follow Why Wait To See The World on Facebook, Twitter @whywaitworld, and Instagram.

How American Expats Can Lower (Or Eliminate) Their Taxes Back Home

This is a guest post by Olivier Wagner, a Certified Public Accountant, U.S. immigrant, expat, and perpetual traveler who preaches the philosophy of being a worldly American. In his new book, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans, he uses his expertise to show you how to use 100% legal strategies (beyond traditionally maligned “tax havens”) to keep your income and assets safe from the IRS. Oliver has also written recently what you need to know about taxes if you’re an American who moves abroad.

us passport money

Most Americans living abroad today know about the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) (Form 2555). The FEIE lets you remove up to $101,300 of foreign income from your taxable income when filing taxes back home. This is great news for U.S. citizens who stay outside the country all year and don’t make six figures annually; as it legally allows you to avoid paying any taxes to the United States. However, to take advantage of it, you must be careful to claim things the right way on your tax return.

Choosing Between The FTC And FEIE

You can also claim a credit for any taxes you have paid to foreign governments through the Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) (Form 1116). This is very useful if you are a resident or worker in another country. However, you have to choose between using either the FTC or the FEIE to lower your taxes – you can’t take advantage of both.

  • Generally, if your foreign tax rate is greater than your U.S. tax rate, the FTC will save you more.

If you have children who are also American citizens, you can get a refundable tax credit of $1,000 per year per child with the Additional Child Tax credit. To qualify, you must have at least $3,000 of income and not use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans

amazon buy now

My friend Laura from Ohio used to work as a self-employed English teacher in Milan. Because she would spend the entire tax year in Italy (and made much less than the $101,300 FEIE limit), she qualified for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion each year when she filed her American taxes.

However, there is one other requirement you must meet in order to use the FEIE. You must pass either the Bona Fide Residence Test or the Physical Presence Test. Although you only need to qualify using one of the two, having both provides a safety net. If you are ever audited and you fail one test, you can simply provide another Form 2555 using the other test.

How To Pass The Bona Fide Residence Test

This is a somewhat fancy phrase that explained Laura’s situation perfectly. A bona fide resident is someone who has legitimately established residency in a foreign country. Although she was abroad in Italy for an undetermined, potentially indefinite period of time, Ohio still saw her as a resident for tax purposes until she proved otherwise.

In order to use this test to qualify for the FEIE, she just had to remain a tax resident of Italy for an uninterrupted tax year. Even if a country doesn’t have an income tax system, so long as they would otherwise have authority to tax you, you qualify as a “tax resident”. She also must not have submitted a statement to Italy that she was a non-resident there. She could not be living in Italy as a tourist.

lisbon portugal

Every other tie to the country counts and the Bona Fide Residence test is inherently subjective. If you are unsure, I would not recommend claiming it. I advise that you use the Physical Presence test or the Foreign Tax Credit instead.

How To Pass The Physical Presence Test

Alternatively, Laura also could have qualified for the FEIE using the Physical Presence Test. To pass this test, a person must spend at least 330 days outside the US in any 12-month period.

Each of those 330 days must be an entire 24 hours. I once had a client of mine tell me, “Well, of course I can use the Physical Presence Test. I live in Canada year-round.” Then he said, “I only return to the States once a week to fill up on gas.” Oops. Those quick little trips meant he was only out of the country for 6/7ths of the year, or 312 days – not quite enough to pass the Physical Presence Test.

Additional Exceptions To The 24 Hour Rule

  • Being in the U.S. for less than 24 hours while in transit between two foreign countries.
  • Being in international waters for less than 24 hours in transit between two foreign countries. International waters do not count as a foreign country (hence, time spent there does not count toward the 330 days). Likewise, time spent in Cuba in violation of the embargo does not count toward the 330 days.

Since Laura was living in Italy for the entire year, she passed these tests as well.

Filing The FEIE On Your Tax Return

The FEIE can be claimed on either Form 2555-EZ or Form 2555. As a tax professional, I usually use Form 2555, but if you’re preparing your own return, you might enjoy the simplicity of Form 2555-EZ.

Requirements For Form 2555-EZ

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  2. You must earn wages or a salary in a foreign country.
  3. You must have a total foreign earned income of $101,300 or less.
  4. You must file a calendar year return that covers a 12-month period.
  5. You must not have self-employment income.
  6. You must not have business or moving expenses.
  7. You must not claim the foreign housing exclusion or deduction.

While the 2555-EZ is an enticing option, it is not applicable to people who receive self-employed income, claim moving expenses, or claim the foreign housing exclusion or deduction. This becomes a problematic area for many English teachers who give private courses outside of a structured work environment, and are therefore considered “self-employed.”

Another Option, The Foreign House Exclusion

My friend Laura also considered claiming the foreign housing exclusion. The foreign housing exclusion is useful for those whose earned income exceeds the limit of $101,300. (The first $44.28 per day is not deductible.) The Foreign Housing Exclusion is called the Foreign Housing Deduction for self-employed people, but the concept is the same.

american flag kansas

Many expats get extremely frustrated with the U.S. tax-filing process, with its seemingly never-ending pages of questions followed by the massive crunching of numbers. I have met many of those people, worked with them, and assured them that we would be able to comply with all the tax requirements so long as we were detailed in our approach.

As you probably already know, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare”, imposes tax penalties on American citizens without health insurance. Fortunately, anyone who qualifies for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion is not subject to the penalties of the ACA.

In Laura’s case, we managed to successfully file her taxes and her Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. We also managed to receive a tax credit for the income taxes taken out by the Italian government.

Thank you very much Oliver for sharing some of your expertise with the many expats who may be paying taxes they don’t have to. Oliver goes further into detail in his highly rated book, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans. For those of you Americans living abroad, it’s probably a good idea to know how your tax situation changes – and doesn’t – which Oliver has covered previously on foXnoMad in his post, How Taxes Change When Americans Go Abroad.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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