How to open 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 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:

  • Passport
  • 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.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 0 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 1.312 CAD 6,558 Offering no maximum and no minimum limit transfers with $0 fees. Go to site Show details
USD 1 1 - 2 days USD 40.00 1.317 CAD
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
EUR 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 10.00 1.304 CAD 6,506 Use TransferMate to help you send money to almost any country around the world for a small fee. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 1.311 CAD 6,552 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
GBP 1,000 1 - 2 days USD 0.00 1.304 CAD 6,519 Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
For larger transfers, get no transaction fees and no maximum send limits.
Go to site Show details
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 1.304 CAD 6,519 No-maximum limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies. Go to site Show details
USD 5,000 1 day USD 0.00 1.304 CAD 6,519 Venstar will support you through the entire process of your international transactions, from start to finish. 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.

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