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How to open a stock account in Canada

A step-by-step guide on how to open a trading account in Canada.

Wondering how to open a trading account in Canada, so you can start investing? Online investment platforms make it easier than ever to start buying and selling securities yourself at a much lower cost than if you used a traditional full-service broker. Let’s walk through how to open a stock account in Canada.

How to open a stock account in Canada

The exact steps for opening a stock trading account vary between platforms, but here’s how it generally works.

1. Compare trading platforms

There are 15 online brokers to choose from in Canada. Each offers its own fee structure, account types, trading options and platform features.

If you’re just starting out, look for brokerages with widely available customer support, low fees and simple, user-friendly apps. More experienced investors may want a trading platform that offers advanced features like options trading, margin trading and access to other securities besides just stocks and ETFs.

Before signing up, make sure you understand the cost of making a trade, any ongoing account maintenance fees and the requirements for opening an account. Usually, you must be at least the age of majority in your province or territory (18 or 19 years old), a resident of Canada and have a bank account.

Best for Lowest Commissions

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Low margin rates
  • Access to international stock exchanges
  • Low margin rates
  • Powerful research tools

Best for Low Fees

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CA & US trading
  • $1,200 cash reward or $1,200 Apple gift card
  • Low transaction fees
  • Easy-to-use app

Best for Beginners

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Easy to use app
  • Easy-to-use platform
  • Low fees
  • Student and young investor discounts

2. Visit the trading platform website and start an online application

Most platforms let you complete the entire application process online, although some may require extra steps like visiting a brokerage branch in person to verify your identity and complete the process. For example, some CIBC Investor’s Edge clients may need to visit a local CIBC branch to present ID and speak with a representative before their applications can be fully approved.

3. Create your profile

Create the username and password with which you’ll access your account. Many platforms will reimburse you for financial losses due to unauthorized account activity, provided you’ve taken reasonable steps to protect your password and personal information. So, avoid using an obvious password, and don’t share it with anyone.

Many platforms use 2-factor authentication, such as one-time codes sent to your phone via text or an authenticator app, to prevent unauthorized account access. You may have to confirm any devices linked to your trading account before your application can proceed.

4. Select an account type

Popular account types include Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs), although you may be able to open business accounts, trusts and other account types as well.

All brokers offer cash accounts that let you trade with funds you deposit into your account. Some also offer margin accounts that let you trade using funds borrowed with interest. Margin trading is risky and not suitable for new investors.

5. Enter your personal information

You’ll typically need to provide your full name, email address, residential address, phone number and Social Insurance Number (SIN).

6. Enter basic employment and financial information

You may be asked to provide the name of your employer and some basic financial information. This information is requested to help brokers comply with Canadian regulations designed to prevent fraud and money laundering. You’ll also need to provide bank account details to transfer funds to and from your investment account.

7. Verify your ID and residency

For security purposes, you have to send a copy of valid, government-issued photo ID 9such as a driver’s license or passport) to your broker. Usually, you can do this by email, fax or uploading a photo or PDF file to a secure online portal. Qtrade has a convenient system that lets you upload a copy of your ID and take a selfie to verify your ID in anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes.

You can verify your residency by sending in a copy of a recent utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement or similar document that shows your name and address.

8. Submit your application and wait for approval

Once you’ve provided all the required information, uploaded your documents and verified your identity, submit your application. Approval often takes anywhere from 1-2 business days. There could be delays if you’re missing information or your ID is unclear.

9. Fund your account

Once approved, transfer funds into your investment account, so you can start trading. Usually, this can be done by electronic funds transfer (EFT), Interac e-Transfer, bill payment through your online bank portal, wire transfer or cheque. Some brokers may also accept debit card payments. You can’t fund an investment account via credit card.

Note that some brokers require a minimum deposit before you can start trading. Some, like Wealthsimple and Interactive Brokers, have no minimum deposit requirements.

10. Start trading!

Once your account is open and funded, you can start buying and selling securities. You can also open additional accounts. Most platforms offer both online and mobile app trading, making it easy to invest just about anytime, anywhere.

RRSP Deadline

For the 2022 tax year, the contribution deadline is March 1, 2023. The maximum amount you can contribute is 18% of your earned income in the previous year, up to an annual limit of $29,210 for the 2022 year. Contributions are tax deductible – you claim your RRSP contribution as a deduction on your tax return. Savings grow tax-free within your RRSP, as you won’t pay tax on investment earnings as long as they stay in your RRSP.

Compare trading platforms in Canada

1 - 6 of 6
Name Product Finder Rating Available Asset Types Stock Trading Fee Account Fee Signup Offer Table description
Interactive Brokers
Finder Score:
★★★★★
4.2 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Index Funds, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
min $1.00, max 0.5%
$0
N/A
Winner for Best Overall Broker in the Finder Stock Trading Platform Awards.
Moomoo Financial Canada
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.9 / 5
Stocks, Options, ETFs
$0.014/stock
$0
Get up to $1,200 or a $1,200 Apple gift card
Trade US stocks for up to 90% less and access free real time stock quotes and level 2 market data. T&C's Apply.
CIBC Investor's Edge
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.7 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, Precious Metals, IPOs
$6.95
$0 if conditions met, or $100
100 free trades + up to $4,500 cash back with Premium Edge
An easy-to-use platform with access to a variety of tools to help you trade with confidence.
RBC Direct Investing
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.8 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $9.95
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
N/A
Enjoy no minimum trading activity requirements and pay just $9.95 per trade or $6.95 if making 150 trades per quarter.
Questrade
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.9 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95 - $9.95
$0
Get $50 in free trades when you fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio to take out some of the guesswork.
Qtrade Direct Investing
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.6 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
Get up to a $150 sign-up bonus. Use code OFFER2024. Ends October 31, 2024.
Low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options.
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Bottom line

It’s easier than ever to open a stock account. Most self-directed investment platforms let you apply online in minutes and get approved in 1 or 2 business days. Once you’ve funded your account, you’re all set to start investing. Before you apply, make sure you’ve carefully compared trading platforms to find the right one for your needs.

Frequently asked questions about stock trading for beginners

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

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Written by

Associate editor

Stacie Hurst is an editor at Finder, specializing in a wide range of topics including stock trading, money transfers, loans, banking products, online shopping and streaming. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Writing, and she completed one year of law school in the United States before deciding to pursue a career in the publishing industry. When not working, Stacie can usually be found watching K-dramas or playing games with her friends and family. See full bio

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