Opening a bank account in Canada in 5 steps | finder.com

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Opening a bank account in Canada

Savings, checking and borderless accounts are at your service in the Great White North.

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Whether you’re planning your move, visiting on a work permit or living in the country as a permanent resident, here’s how to open a bank account in Canada from the US.

1. Choose which type of account you’ll open

There are four main types of bank accounts you can open in Canada. How you’ll open your account depends on which type you choose.

Use this table to decide which account is right for you:

Account typeBest forFeaturesDrawbacks
Canadian bank accountThose who want a traditional bank account
  • Large product offerings
  • Physical branches for in-person support
  • Similar to traditional US bank account
  • Requires proof of residency
  • May have to open in person
International bank accountThose who send, receive and spend money in different countries
  • Access to multiple currencies and international investments
  • Cheaper foreign transactions, international wire transfers and exchange rates
  • Can open without Canadian address
Some banks require:
  • Extensive documentation
  • Opening deposits of $25,000 or more
  • High minimums
Foreign currency accountThose who want their account to hold multiple currencies
  • Can transfer funds in multiple foreign currencies, including USD, CAD, AUD, euros, yen and more
  • Available to individuals and businesses
  • Can open without Canadian address
  • High minimums
  • Low interest rates
  • Miscellaneous fees
Digital bank accountThose who want a tech-forward account that’s easily accessible
  • Easily accessible
  • Has budgeting and automatic savings tools
  • Not required to provide proof of Canadian address
  • Limited ways to access funds
  • Bank may have small product offering

If you’re interested in a foreign currency account alternative, a borderless account may help. Check out money transfer specialists like TransferWise, which allow you to hold and convert currencies and receive money from other 50 countries with minimal fees.

2. Find your new bank

Now that you know which type of account you want to open, it’s time to find your new financial institution. Decide which bank to go with by looking at their product offerings to see if it offers the type of bank account you need, whether that’s a checking account, savings account or CD. Some popular international banks in Canada include:

Scotiabank Logo

Scotiabank

Scotiabank offers 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
CIBC Logo

CIBC Smart for Foreign Workers

CIBC offers international bank accounts that have age, work permit and residency requirements:

  • You’re a temporary resident in Canada with a valid work permit (IMM 1442)
  • You can provide valid identification
  • You’ve reached the age of majority in your province or territory
TD Bank Logo

TD Canada Trust

TD Bank allows bank accounts to be opened before you move to Canada, requirements include:

  • Provide proof of your status through your Permanent Resident Card or Temporary Permit
  • At least 18 years old

3. Gather your documents

Before you apply, you’ll need to gather some documentation. This table shows which documents are typically required for each bank type, although it may vary by institution:

Account typeRequired documents
Canadian bank accountOne or two pieces of Canadian identification, such as:
  • 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
  • Employee card, credit card or foreign passport
International bank account
  • Passport
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of address
  • Minimum opening deposit
Foreign currency account
  • Proof of Canadian address
  • Photo ID, such as a driver’s license or health card
Digital bank account
  • Passport
  • Canadian address

4. Open your account

With your documentation on hand, it’s time to apply for you account. Some banks may require you to visit a branch location to apply, while others may let you open online or over the phone. Look on your bank’s website to see what your options are. Then, start the application process.

5. Fund your account

Once you’ve set up your account, it’s time to fund it. You may have the option to send a check or link a bank account, but most individuals fund their new account with a money wire transfer.

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.

Compare money transfer services

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1,000 1 day USD 0.00 1.253 CAD 6,264 OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 1.253 CAD 6,264 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Same day USD 0.00 1.26 CAD 6,299 XE has fast transfers with no fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
$1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 1.265 CAD
6,276
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 1.26 CAD 6,295 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Bottom line

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. Depending on your situation, you may want to first create a digital account. Then, once you are more established, open a bank account in Canada in person to continue your banking in Canadian dollars.

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