Opening a bank account online usually takes about 5 minutes — much faster than visiting your bank branch. In today’s fast-paced world, this type of convenience is priceless. Here’s a rundown of what to expect when you open a bank account online in Canada.
Can you open a bank account online in Canada? Absolutely. Follow these steps to learn how to open an account online.
Step 1: Compare accounts to find the right one
Shop around to find the right bank account for you. Factor in the card type, minimum balance requirements for savings accounts, whether you can bank online or via an app, and any fees, including ATM withdrawal fees, monthly fees and whether the account waives fees if you maintain a minimum balance.
Step 2: Apply for your account online
Click Go to site and a new window will open, sending you to the account provider’s website and a secure online application. You’ll need to provide basic information about yourself such as your name, date of birth, address and Social Insurance Number (SIN). Make sure you have this information on hand before you start the application as the webpage can time out and close if you leave your computer unattended for too long.
After you complete an online bank account application, you’ll get an email from the account provider with information about what happens next. This email should come within a minute or two after you submit the application to the bank. It may come with instructions on verifying your identity, or you may need to do that first.
Step 3: Verify your identity
You’ll need to provide a government-issued ID before you’re approved for an account. Most banks will let you take a picture of your ID with your phone, though some banks require that you verify your identity in person. If you’re already a customer of the bank, you may be able to skip this step.
Step 4: Your debit card arrives
If the account you signed up for includes a debit card, it’ll arrive in the mail after you’ve been approved — you’ll find out how long it takes to ship in the confirmation email. The debit card and PIN are sent to you separately for security reasons. When you get your card, you need to sign the back and activate it so you can make withdrawals. This is a simple process that can be completed over the phone or online.
Step 5: Start using it!
Your account is ready to go. You’ll be able to make deposits and withdrawals, as well as use any other features associated with your account. To finish setting everything up:
Set up Internet banking. This lets you manage your money and make payments to other accounts from your phone, computer or tablet. Download the account provider’s app and follow the on-screen instructions to set up your online banking.
Switch your direct debits and automatic payments. If you signed up for a chequing account, decide if you want to transfer all of your automatic payments to your new account. If so, you’ll need to sign into your existing accounts with your creditors and change the bank account information they have on file for you.
Which banks allow you to open an account online?
You can basically count on all major banks to offer online bank account applications. Whether you’re looking to open a savings or chequing account online, browse through the Canadian banks in the table below to see what they offer and some of their most popular account options.
Online banking lets you perform all your banking transactions over the internet. Instead of visiting your nearest branch to make a deposit, transfer money, pay off your credit card or check your savings balance, you can access your finances through any internet-enabled device.
This includes desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Once you have an account with a bank or credit union, it’s usually free to sign up for an online banking account and often takes less than 10 minutes to apply. After creating a password to ensure secure login to your account, you can begin managing your finances online. Note that your credentials to log into online banking usually won’t be the same as your bank details for security purposes.
The right online banking platform allows you to:
Pay bills online
Transfer money by email
Check your account balances and access your transaction history
Find the nearest ATM in your bank’s network
Research products and services to buy or upgrade
Use currency converters, repayment calculators, stock trading calculators and other tools
Manage investments and trade stocks
Pay for goods and services with a mobile wallet
How do I deposit a cheque using a mobile app?
Depositing a cheque using a mobile banking app is fairly straightforward, but check with your bank before you deposit to know exactly what steps you should follow.
Often, you simply sign the back of the cheque you’re depositing, open your bank’s mobile app, navigate to the mobile deposit screen, enter the transaction details (such as the amount being deposited and which account you want the money to go into), and then follow your app’s prompts to take a picture of the front and back of your cheque. Submit the transaction and make sure you see an indication that the deposit was successful.
Note that your bank may have specific policies limiting the amount or frequency of mobile deposits you’re allowed to make or placing a hold on larger deposits for security purposes.
What do I need to open a bank account online?
The whole process shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. If you’re at least 18 years old, you can apply for most bank accounts online. You’ll be provided with a checklist of things you should have with you before you apply. If you’re an existing customer of the bank, make sure you have your relevant customer ID or account number.
ID is required to help banks protect you from fraud. If someone gets your Social Insurance Number (SIN), they could try to open a line of credit or apply for an account in your name to hide illegally obtained money. Banks verify your ID to make sure it’s really you opening the account and not someone trying to steal your identity.
Most accounts allow you to apply for a joint account with 1 or more people. If you’re applying for a joint account, all account holders will need to provide their personal information, including Social Insurance Number (SIN) and ID, address and contact information.
To open a bank account online, you’ll generally need to:
Be a Canadian resident with a Canadian residential address
Be at least 18 years of age, or the age of majority in your province or territory (note that some banks will let minors open an account with a guardian)
Provide a copy of your government-issued ID such as a passport or driver’s license (you may be required to upload a scanned copy of your ID for verification purposes)
You aren’t confined to the branch’s hours of operation to do your banking
The application forms are easy to use
It usually takes about 5 minutes to get started
What to watch out for when opening a bank account online
You may have to visit a local branch to open a bank account if you run into any of these challenges.
No or bad credit. Most banks verify your identity by doing a soft pull on your credit. If you haven’t built any credit yet, you may need to visit a local branch to verify your identity and complete your application process. If you have a negative banking history because you’ve previously bounced cheques or had insufficient funds, your application may be denied when you open an account online. But visiting a local branch could increase your chances of getting an approval.
A minor. Anyone under age 18 or the age of majority in your province can’t open a bank account without a parent or legal guardian co-signing on the account. Some banks allow minors that 16 years old to apply but could require you to visit a local branch to set up this type of account.
Non-Canadian citizen or resident. Nonresidents can still open accounts at some banks in Canada, but there are extra hurdles to jump through. You may be required to bring your passport as well as your work visa or student ID to a local branch to verify your identity and complete the application process.
Business accounts. While opening a bank account for yourself online is simple, it’s more difficult to open an account for your business online. Some institutions may support this, while others may require you to do it in person.
There are some online-only banks that don’t have physical branches. If you are running into trouble with any of the above, digital banks may still be able to help you get set up online since there is no option to go into a branch.
The days of spending an hour at the bank to open an account are gone, and you can open a new chequing or savings account online from your computer or phone in minutes. But don’t let the speed and convenience rush you into making a decision. Compare savings accounts or chequing accounts before getting started to find the one that’s right for you.
Frequently asked questions
No, you don’t need to make a deposit when you open a bank account in Canada. According to federal regulations, you have the right to open a bank account even if you don’t have a job, are unable to make a deposit, or have been bankrupt in the past.
You can activate your card online or over the phone. The primary account holder will generally need to activate their card first before any additional cardholders can do the same.
Once you’re approved for the account you can register for online banking. In most cases you’ll be able to do this online or via the app through a link sent to you in an email, but some banks will require you to call customer service to set up a password.
After your account is open, paper statements may be sent to you in the mail each month by default. You can choose to get electronic statements instead by calling the provider or by logging on to the online banking portal and changing your settings. Often, you may end up paying to receive paper statements, but electronic statements are typically provided for free.
In some cases, yes. However, it will mostly depend on the bank you’re interested in. Most banks require the following information to open an account:
Valid ID, like a passport or driver’s license
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Proof of address
If you’re a Canadian citizen, the process to open a bank account should be relatively straight forward because you should have access to the right documents. However, if you’re not a citizen you may be required to provide other documents in place of those that are normally required. These can include:
Permanent residence card
Temporary residence card
Work permit, and proof of employment
Call the bank you’re interested in for more information and to see exactly what documents are required for your specific situation.
It depends on the institution. Some may ask you to input an electronic signature on their paperwork, which you can do easily through applications like Docusign. Others may follow up with paper forms in the mail that you need to sign physically. Finally, you might be asked to print, sign and scan your signed forms.
Chelsey Hurst is an associate editor at Finder. She loves empowering people to make better financial decisions, primarily in the life insurance and banking fields. Chelsey has received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry, followed by a Master of Science in Chemistry, and has numerous awards for research communication. Chelsey enjoys tutoring, cooking and taking long walks in nature.
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