We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.
How to open a bank account in Canada
Savings, checking and borderless accounts are at your service in the Great White North.
Whether you’re planning your move, visiting on a work permit or live in the country as a permanent resident, you have multiple banking options in Canada. Or look to digital borderless accounts.
What are my options for opening an account?
Prepare to encounter the country’s Big Five when shopping for an account: TD Canada Trust, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
Most offer three banking options that depend on your citizenship, permanent address and more.
Setting up a bank account with a Canadian address
Many Canadian banks require that you provide proof of a Canadian address and prefer that you apply in person. After you’ve selected your provider and account type, visit a bank branch during business hours to set up your new account.
You’ll meet with a financial adviser and provide one to two pieces of Canadian identification like:
- Valid Canadian driver’s license or passport
- Canadian birth certificate
- Social Insurance Number card
- Old Age Security card
- Certificate of Indian Status
- Provincial health insurance card
- Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
- Permanent Resident card
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada form IMM 1000, IMM 1442 or IMM 5292
You may also be asked to produce an additional piece of identification in the form of an employee card, credit card or foreign passport.
Once you’ve filled out your application and provided the required documentation, you can fund your new Canadian bank account with a money transfer to complete the process.
Setting up an international bank account
International bank accounts offer access to multiple currencies and international investments. They’re designed to lessen the blow of foreign transaction fees, international wire transfers and exchange rates. But some banks require extensive documentation, sizable opening deposits and high minimum balances to maintain the account.
You don’t need a Canadian address to set up an international account. But you’ll likely need to provide your passport, proof of income and proof of address plus ample opening deposits that meet minimum balance requirements to maintain the account.
Both Scotiabank and HSBC offer international bank accounts that require age and residency requirements:
- At least 13 years old
- Permanent resident, international student or foreign worker
- A move to Canada within 18 months of applying
When you apply, expect to provide documentation like:
- Date of arrival in Canada
- Canadian visa or landing document number
- Proof of income
- Proof of address
Foreign currency accounts
Foreign currency accounts allow you to transfer funds in multiple foreign currencies and are available to individuals and businesses. Banks like Citibank, HSBC, RBC and TD offer foreign currency accounts in multiple currencies that include euros, yen, British pound sterling and Australian dollars.
If you’re interested in a foreign currency account alternative, a borderless account may help. Money transfer specialists like TransferWise allow you to hold and convert currencies and receive money from other 30 countries with minimal fees.
You can apply for a foreign currency account with proof of your Canadian address and photo ID like a driver’s license or health card, depending on the institution.
How to transfer money to your new Canadian bank account
Ready to fund your new Canadian bank account? A traditional financial institution might not be your best bet.
As far as international money transfers go, a digital money transfer specialist likely offers lower transaction fees and more competitive exchange rates than your local bank.
If you plan to send money to Canada, consider a service like WorldRemit or MoneyGram to meet your money transfer needs.
Canadian banks have plenty of banking options to offer permanent residents and visitors alike. Beyond the Big Five, you may find stronger exchange rates and easier tools to manage international payments with digital money transfer specialists.
Frequently asked questions
Ask an Expert