A Newcomer’s Guide to Opening a Canadian bank account

A Newcomer’s Guide to Opening a Canadian bank account

 
Opening A Bank Account in Canada
 
Having a local bank account is important for someone who decides to live and work in a foreign land. Most Canadian employers would require their employees to open a local savings or checking account for payment as an international account would mean additional foreign transaction charges. A local account would also make it easier for you to apply for credit cards and loans in the long run. But the most obvious reason is that it will allow you to make financial transactions more easily; especially in your first weeks and months here, which immigrants typically spend on finding a place to live and job hunting.
 
The first thing you need to do is to contact your preferred bank. You can do this before traveling to Canada or during your first days in the country. For the former, you can do it online. Remember that banks only entertain legitimate applications, so expect them to ask for your travel details (visa, passport, etc). We suggest that you partner with the country’s biggest banks, not only for their wide array of immigrant-centric services but also for the security features/services they offer.
 
The top five banks in Canada are as follows:
  1. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  2. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank)
  3. Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
  4. Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
 
We are not discouraging you to inquire about the immigrant services offered by smaller, lower-tier, local banks in your area. In the previous years, many immigrants have chosen to open their first bank account in these smaller banks and even with independent financial institutions, especially those who came to the country to start up a small business.
 
Things to consider before opening a bank account
  • Type of account. Are you just looking for banking efficiency or do you plan on starting a business?
  • Services you need. Will you be sending money overseas on a regular basis, or do you just plan to have a safety deposit box for savings, or do you need an easy way to convert currency?
  • Fees and interest rates. While most banks waive these fees for newcomers (most of them don’t even require an initial deposit to open an account), you still have to know whether you can pay them once the leniency period ends.
  • Access to your fund. How do you want to access your funds? Would it be through a mobile app or through physical transaction?
 
The great thing about Canadian banks as per the Canadian Bankers Association
  1. Canadian banks don’t require immigrants to provide an initial deposit just to open an account. They won’t even ask them if they already have a stable job, of if they’ve been bankrupt in the past.
  2. The only thing an immigrant applicant needs to do is to meet the identification requirements set by the bank, which typically boils down to these documents:
  • A valid passport
  • Permanent resident card and immigration papers
  • Temporary Residence Permit
  • Work or study permit
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence form (IMM 5292 or IMM 5688)
  • Other documents that contain the applicant’s biographical information
  • Some banks (e.g. HSBC) would require you to submit a bank statement from your current bank in your home country detailing your transactions for the last three months, proof of address, statement of annual income, and citizenship card.
  1. Security is king. All *Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)-member banks are guaranteed up to $100,000 deposits in the event of bank failure. With this, immigrants no longer have to worry about losing their hard-earned cash.
  2. Every established bank in Canada offers their brand of respective tools that aims to help immigrant to save money.
  3. Canadian banks adhere to a national system designed by the government. This means that all bank account owners have access to similar products at the same price anywhere in the country. On the subject of access, there are currently a total of 6,300 branches, 18,775 bank-owned Automated Banking Machines (ABMs), debit payment services at over 450,000 retailers in Canada, in addition to the internet, mobile and telephone banking.
Want to open a bank before you arrive?
  1. Canadian banks allow online application for immigrants who are yet to arrive in the country.
  2. Banks with foreign branches (Scotiabank, for instance) in the applicant’s home country will most likely require him/her to accomplish referral forms for a new deposit account.
  3. Banks will allow wire transfer before the applicant’s arrival in Canada.
  4. Withdrawing funds from the Canadian account will be barred until the account is activated by visiting the branch in person after you move to Canada to verify your identification.
  5. The bank will ask the applicant to mail all the required documents via traditional mail or email to start pre-arrival banking process.
 Banks rules may vary a little. So it pays to browse through their official website or call their customer service first to know which bank services fit your needs.
 
The complete alphabetical list of Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)-member banks
  • Amex Bank of Canada
  • B2B Bank
  • B2B Trustco
  • Bank of China (Canada)
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Bank of Montreal Mortgage Corporation
  • Bank of Nova Scotia (The)
  • BMO Trust Company
  • Bridgewater Bank
  • Caisse populaire acadienne ltée
  • Canada Trust Company
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • Canadian Tire Bank
  • Canadian Western Bank
  • Canadian Western Trust Company
  • CIBC Mellon Trust Company
  • CIBC Mortgages Inc.
  • CIBC Trust Corporation
  • Citibank Canada
  • Citizens Bank of Canada
  • Community Trust Company
  • Computershare Trust Company of Canada
  • Concentra Bank
  • Concentra Trust
  • CS Alterna Bank
  • CTBC Bank Corp. (Canada)
  • Desjardins Trust Inc.
  • DirectCash Bank
  • Effort Trust Company
  • Equitable Bank
  • Equity Financial Trust Company
  • First Nations Bank of Canada
  • General Bank of Canada
  • Habib Canadian Bank
  • Hollis Canadian Bank
  • Home Bank
  • Home Trust Company
  • HomEquity Bank
  • HSBC Bank Canada
  • HSBC Mortgage Corporation (Canada)
  • HSBC Trust Company (Canada)
  • ICICI Bank Canada
  • Industrial Alliance Trust Inc.
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada)
  • Investors Group Trust Co. Ltd.
  • KEB Hana Bank Canada
  • Laurentian Bank of Canada
  • Laurentian Trust of Canada Inc.
  • LBC Trust
  • League Savings and Mortgage Company
  • Manulife Bank of Canada
  • Manulife Trust Company
  • MCAN Mortgage Corporation
  • Mega International Commercial Bank (Canada)
  • Montreal Trust Company of Canada
  • Natcan Trust Company
  • National Bank of Canada
  • National Bank Trust Inc.
  • National Trust Company
  • Peace Hills Trust Company
  • Peoples Trust Company
  • President's Choice Bank
  • RBC Investor Services Trust
  • Royal Bank Mortgage Corporation
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Royal Trust Company
  • Royal Trust Corporation of Canada
  • SBI Canada Bank
  • Scotia Mortgage Corporation
  • Shinhan Bank Canada
  • Sun Life Financial Trust Inc.
  • Street Capital Bank of Canada
  • Tangerine Bank
  • TD Mortgage Corporation
  • TD Pacific Mortgage Corporation
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank
  • UBS Bank (Canada)
  • Valiant Trust Company
  • VersaBank
  • Wealth One Bank of Canada
  • Zag Bank
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