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Business bank accounts for non-Canadian residents

The key details you need to know to open a business bank account as a foreign resident.

If your business operates in Canada, it makes sense to open a Canadian business bank account. This makes it easy to pay your employees and suppliers in Canadian dollars, and to accept payments from your customers. And even if you’re not a Canadian resident, it’s still possible to open a business bank account in Canada.

Here’s what you need to know about business bank accounts for non-Canadian residents, including popular accounts to consider.

Can I open a business bank account in Canada as a non-resident?

Yes, it’s possible to open a business bank account in Canada as a non-resident, but it depends on the bank you choose.

There’s no legal requirement for you to be a Canadian resident to open an account. But individual banks and financial institutions have their own eligibility requirements, so whether or not you can open a business account depends on the provider you choose. And while some providers allow you to open an account online from wherever you are in the world, others require you to visit a Canadian branch to confirm your identity first.

One option is to consider opening an account with a bank that has an international presence, and that operates in your home country as well as in Canada. For example, if you’re a US resident, several major Canadian banks also have branches in the USA.

Another option is to consider a fintech that offers multi-currency business accounts. For example, Wise offers local business bank account details in up to 10 currencies, so you can send and receive payments wherever you do business. You also get the mid-market rate on currency exchanges, and you don’t have to be a Canadian resident to sign up.

Revolut also offers an online business account that supports over 25 currencies and allows you to send payments to over 100 countries. You can get physical and virtual company debit cards too, plus accounting integrations to simplify your bookkeeping.

Why open a business bank account?

There are lots of reasons why you should consider opening a business bank account if you do business in Canada:

  • Make payments. A Canadian bank account makes it easy to pay your employees and suppliers in Canadian dollars. This is not just convenient but can help you save money by avoiding currency exchanges.
  • Get paid. You can also receive payments from Canadian customers in the local currency. You can hold the funds in CAD to cover future Canadian expenses, or convert them to another currency when an attractive exchange rate becomes available.
  • Keep business and personal expenses separate. Using a business bank account ensures that your business and personal transactions don’t get mixed up. This streamlines your bookkeeping and makes things a whole lot easier at tax time.
  • Look more professional. Operating from a business bank account makes your business look more professional. This can help you put your best foot forward with customers and suppliers.
  • Easier reporting. Business bank accounts often come with tools to help you track your expenses and manage your business cash flow. They also offer accounting software integrations for simplified bookkeeping.

Multicurrency business accounts for non-Canadian residents

Wise International Business Account

Wise offers multicurrency accounts and a debit card that can be used in 200 countries including Canada. Connect with QuickBooks for easy, real-time financial administration. Enjoy international money transfer services to 80 countries at the mid-market exchange rate.
  • Spend with your debit card in 200 countries
  • Foreign transfers with no exchange rate mark-up
  • User-friendly app
  • Send $1 to $1,500,000
  • Not a bank
  • No cash pick-up transfer options
  • High fees for large transfers
Receiving options Bank account
Alipay (China only)
Pay By Credit card
Debit card
Bank transfer
Interac e-Transfer
Online bill payment
Direct debit (EFT)

OFX

OFX offers international business transfers and a Global Currency Account that lets you manage funds, receive payments in 7 currencies and send money in 50+ currencies to 170+ countries. Plus, you get dedicated customer service support.
  • Hold up to 7 currencies in 1 account
  • No fees for transfers over $10,000 CAD
  • Lock in exchange rates 12 months in advance
  • Not a bank
  • $15 fee for transfers under $10,000 CAD
  • First transfer requires phone verification
Receiving options Bank account
Pay By Debit card
Bank transfer

How to compare business bank accounts for non-Canadian residents

Take the following factors into account when comparing business bank accounts:

  • Fees. Business bank account fees can have a big impact on your bottom line. Check whether the account has a monthly fee, an account opening fee and fees for any specific transactions (such as international transfers).
  • Supported transactions. How many transactions can you make per month without incurring extra fees. Some accounts restrict the number of monthly transactions, while others let you make unlimited transactions. The right account for you will depend on the banking needs of your business.
  • How to access your money. Will you be issued a card for spending and cash withdrawals, or do you only have access to your funds via online and mobile banking? When managing funds from outside the country, it’s important to have a well-designed, user-friendly mobile app and money management interface.
  • Exchange rates. When you convert between currencies in your account or send an international transfer, what exchange rate markup applies? This can have a big impact on the cost of doing business if you regularly send or receive foreign currency payments.
  • Other perks. Check whether the account comes with other benefits, such as cash back on spending or discounts on other business banking products.
  • Supported currencies. If you’re opening a multi-currency business account, make sure all the currencies you regularly transact in are supported.
  • Application process. How quick is the application process? Can you apply online or will you need to visit a bank branch to verify your identity.
  • Customer support. Finally, don’t forget to check how you can access customer support if you ever have a problem with your account, and during which hours support is available.

How do I open a business bank account in Canada as a foreign resident?

How you apply for an account depends on the financial institution you choose. Fintechs and challenger banks typically allow you to open an account completely online. But if you choose a traditional bank, you may be required to visit a bank branch to complete the application and verify your identity.

You don’t need to be a Canadian resident to apply, but your business will need to be registered in Canada. You’ll also need to be 18 years or older, and you’ll have to provide your personal information and business details during the application process.

Documentation and information required

The paperwork you need to provide varies depending on the bank you choose, but you’ll generally need:

  • Your name, date of birth, contact details and country of residence
  • Proof of ID
  • Your business’ name, address, industry and revenue
  • Proof of business address
  • Business documentation, such as your business licence, trade name registration certificate or articles of incorporation/association

The business documentation you need to provide will depend on the structure of your business. Banks will provide a checklist on their website of the paperwork you need, so read it over before beginning the application.

Usually, you can fill out an online application in minutes, but it might take several business days to verify your identity and get approved.

Which banks offer business bank accounts in Canada?

Every major bank in Canada offers business banking services. But banking in Canada is dominated by the “Big Six” — six banks that have the lion’s share of customers across the country. These banks are:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank)
  • Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • National Bank

If you want the peace of mind that comes from dealing with an established financial institution, be sure to compare business accounts from these banks. But smaller banks and credit unions also offer business banking services, as do fintechs and challenger banks, so it’s worth shopping around to see what else is available.

Bottom line

It’s possible to open a business bank account in Canada if you’re not a Canadian resident. But eligibility requirements and the account-opening process vary between financial institutions, so check with your bank to find out what you need to do to apply. It’s also important to compare a range of accounts to find one that suits the banking needs of your business.

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