How to Open a Bank Account in Canada

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Are you struggling to open a bank account as a citizen or resident of Canada? Or are you planning to migrate to Canada and you are overwhelmed with the thought of how to get a bank account? Do you need to open a bank account in Canada as soon as possible, but simply can’t leave your home at the moment?

Whatever category you find yourself in, this article will reveal the steps you can follow to get your bank account opened in a jiffy.

In every contemporary society today it is almost impossible to function as an adult without having a bank account. It is quite a necessity except you own a time machine to go back to the days of barter and gold coins.

If you’re in Canada having a bank account will ease your affairs a lot.

For instance, if you’re an employee, you’ll need a bank account to receive your salary payment. You’ll also need it for paying taxes. If you are a business owner, you’ll need to receive payment from your customers. It is imperative that you open a bank account.

So, let’s get started by identifying the standard procedure for opening a bank account in Canada.

Account Opening Procedure in Canada

It’s not possible for banks or financial institutions in Canada to open for anybody that walks up to them or applies to have an account with them. International and local regulatory agencies wouldn’t allow it.

Certain requirements must be met. Also, banks need some information and other things to verify your personal biometrics and to secure your funds from unauthorized access.

So, to open an account with any bank in Canada, the first step is to provide the required documentation.

What documents do I need to open a bank account in Canada?

To create a bank account in Canada, you’ll need to provide certain documents. The most important are documents that verify your identity. The required documents vary based on the type of account and the bank you choose.

  • A valid, current passport
  • Proof of address
  • (For Immigrants) Your permanent residency card or immigration papers. However, most banks in Canada accept Temporary Residence Permits as well as work or study permits.
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN).

The next step in the account opening process is to identify the account type you need.

Types of Bank Accounts in Canada

Depending on your needs and residency status (PR, international student, etc.) banks in Canada offer different types of bank accounts for you to choose from.

However, there are two broad types of bank accounts in Canada:

Checking Account

This is an account type that is optimized for daily transactions and frequent purchases. In some climes, it is otherwise called a Current Account. Checking accounts are common among business owners, salary earners, and self-employed individuals in Canada.

Checking accounts come with different features to help you make daily transactions with ease and at relatively low costs. You get issued a Checkbook, ATMs, Credit cards etc. all of these tools are to help you meet up with your frequent transactional needs on-demand.

Examples of Checking accounts are Salary accounts for employees and corporate accounts for businesses.

Savings Account

As the name implies, this refers to accounts that are designed to encourage you to accumulate money over a longer period.

Savings accounts feature high-interest rates to encourage you to leave the money untouched or add to it over time.

A percentage of your balance is paid to you periodically. The arrangement varies from bank to bank and based on the specific service offering.

Examples of Savings accounts in Canada include your Target Savings Account, RRSP, TFSA, and HISA (High-Interest Savings Account).

Keep in mind that if you make frequent transactions on your Savings account, it will attract high fees. And they often require you to keep a minimum balance sitting in your account at all times.

You can open both savings and chequing accounts.

International Student Bank Accounts

International students in Canada are not left out. If you’re an international student, you can easily open an account in many banks in Canada including any of the Big Five Banks. Here’s a quick list of accounts for international students:

  • RBC Student Banking

This account offered by the Royal Bank of Canada requires no monthly fee and includes 25 free debit transactions per month.

  • TD Student Chequing Account

This account type by TD Bank is specifically for students. This account type is specifically for students, this chequing account has no monthly fees and a limit of 25 transactions per month. Click here to find out how to open an account with Royal Bank of Canada

After identifying the type of bank account you want to open, the next step is to select a bank you would like to open an account with.

Which Canadian bank is best for my needs?

Banking is one of the most competitive industries in Canada. There is a handful of banks that offer technologically advanced and standardized banking services.

Since there are many banks to choose from in Canada, you could very easily get confused. Here are a few of the most prominent banks in Canada for your consideration:

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

RBC is the largest bank in Canada, offering customer service in an impressive 200+ languages.

Royal Bank of Canada is a popular choice among ex-pats because of its Newcomer account packages. It offers heaps of helpful information and services to get your finances sorted as you settle into life Canadian.

RBC offers the following types of accounts;

  • RBC No Limit Banking

This is a Chequing account that offers unlimited debit transactions.

  • RBC VIP Banking

This is a premier, all-inclusive chequing account with interesting features such as credit card rebates, unlimited debit transactions and more.

  • RBC also offers dedicated savings accounts for individuals, students, and for business customers.

As a new customer, you might be eligible for RBC’s special offer to pay no monthly fee for your first 12 months. Click here to find out how to open an account with Royal Bank of Canada

TD Bank (Toronto-Dominion Bank)

TD Bank is another prominent bank in Canada. It offers special packages for Canadian new entrants. It has a dedicated hub offering helpful information and advice for finance and life in Canada.  

Here are a few types of accounts that you can open with TD Bank

  • TD Unlimited Account

This a chequing (Current) account for everyday banking. It comes with features such as unlimited transactions and zero fees on any ATM withdrawals within Canada

  • TD Minimum Chequing Account

 This is a basic chequing account with a limit of twelve (12) transactions monthly. It is aimed at those with very minimal banking needs.

Bank of Montreal (BMO)

Bank of Montreal is the oldest bank in Canada. It is another viable option for newcomers in Canada.

New customers of BMO get to enjoy the exclusive features of the BMO NewStart Program. It includes juicy offers and perks such as;

  • Zero monthly fees on chequing accounts
  • Free safety deposit box for the first 12 months
  • Unlimited transactions and a cash bonus if you open the account online

Other account types offered by BMO include:

  • Plus Plan Chequing Account

This is a flexible everyday account for those with minimal banking needs. It offering up to 25 free transactions per month as well as a free Premium Rate savings account.

  • Premium Plan Chequing Account

This account has several unique service offerings such as unlimited transfers, unlimited withdrawals from non-BMO ATMs around the world, free cheques books and other perks. Click here to find out how to open an account with Royal Bank of Canada

Other Canadian Banks to consider are;

  • The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • Laurentian Bank
  • Canadian Western Bank
  • HSBC Bank Canada
  • National Bank of Canada

However, when it comes to the ease of opening an account as a non-resident, it may be best to stick to larger banks. As a new entrant, you should look out for banks with dedicated newcomer packages.

This will help you save some valuable cash in your early days while you find your feet. And moreover, the bigger the bank, the safer the bank.

Once you’ve identified a bank, you can simply walk into a physical branch to open an account. A quick search on Google for ‘Name of Bank near me’ will bring up the closest branch to your destination. Don’t forget to go with all your documents!

The great news is that you can also open an account online.

Can I open a Canadian bank account online?

Yes. You can complete the process of opening a bank account in Canada entirely online. We’ve written an article on the best online savings accounts in Canada.

We’re in the digital age. And with the Covid-19 restrictions, many companies in Canada, including banks have developed new ways to onboard customers and deliver services to them virtually.

However, it also depends on the account type that you are applying for as well as the documentation that you have. It is a good idea to contact the bank, or simply visit their website to check for the updated list of items required for an online-only application.

What about fees?

The great news for newbies is that when Open a bank account in Canada, most banks offer dedicated introductory offers on monthly fees. This usually lasts between 6-12 months.

When the welcome period elapses, chequing accounts attract monthly fees of up to CA$30 depending on the bank or account type. With some account types, you can still waive these fees by maintaining a certain minimum daily balance.

Aside from monthly account maintenance fees, you should also take note of other charges like local ATM fees, Credit card charges etc.

And if you are a frequent traveller, or you work and/or do business internationally you should be aware of international transfers and withdrawal fees.

Before you open a bank account in Canada, be sure to examine all the information about potential charges and fees.

Conclusion

For anyone seeking to open an account in Canada is that it the Canadian banking industry is considered one of the safest in the world

After reading this guide, you are now all set to open a bank account in Canada. Canada’s banking industry offers some interesting welcome packages, you should find the on-boarding process relatively easy and straightforward.

So, get your documentation ready, and good luck with your Canadian adventure!

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Avid researcher, freelance writer, and personal finance enthusiast passionate about financial education and literacy.

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Kareena Maya

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.