Katrina Lane, Content writer   09 March 2020

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Are you planning on living and working in Canada for an extended time? If so, you may find it more convenient to open a Canadian Bank account.

To get you started, we’ve answered some questions you may have about how to open a bank account in Canada as a non-resident. We hope these tips will help your move to Canada to be as pleasant and straightforward as possible.

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Do you need a Canadian bank account to work in Canada?

You’re not legally required to have a Canadian bank account to work in Canada. However, most employers prefer you to have one, as it will be easier to process payments and pay taxes. It also allows you to build a credit history.

As an employed person in Canada, you’ll be expected to pay your taxes. Non-residents who don’t have a Canadian bank account can also make their payments to the Canada Revenue Agency by wire transfer or with an internationally issued credit card, through a third-party service like WolrdRemit.

Can a foreigner open a bank account in Canada?

Yes. Even if you’re not a Canadian citizen or live in another country, you may be able to open a bank account as long as you have the proper identification.

In Canada, you have the right to open a bank account, even if you:

  • Don’t have a job.
  • Don’t have money to put in the account right away.
  • Have been bankrupt.

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Can you open a bank account in Canada from overseas?

Yes, opening a bank account in Canada from overseas is possible. However, the process isn’t simple and will take a few days. You’ll also need to have your immigration documents in order.

If you need to apply for a bank account before arriving in Canada, it may be easier to open an international bank account.

Which are the most popular banks in Canada?

There are five major banks in Canada:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank)
  • Scotiabank
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

What do you need to open a bank account in Canada?

Specific requirements may vary with different financial institutions. So, it’s always a good idea to give the bank a call beforehand to make sure you have all the right documents.

In most cases, you’ll be asked to show the following documents and information:

  • Your valid, unexpired passport
  • Your immigration papers (or permanent residency card if you have one)
  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Proof of address

Most banks will probably accept one of the following immigration papers:

Which banks don’t require SIN?

The Income Tax Act requires banks to ask you for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) when you open an interest-bearing account. That’s so the bank can report your interest income to the government. Other non-interest-bearing accounts in most banks, however, can be opened without your SIN.

The following banks may consider your application for an account without a SIN.

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How to get the required identity documents?

Immigration papers

If you want to work, study, or immigrate to Canada, you will need to apply online on the Canadian government website before arriving in Canada.

Social Insurance Number

You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada. This unique 9-digit number issued by the Canadian government serves to track a person’s income and have access to government programs and benefits.

 To apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), you need two documents:

  • A valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada; such as a work or study permit
  • A valid secondary document to confirm your identity; like a passport or government-issued ID

There’s no fee to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You must provide all the required documents and take them to the nearest Service Canada office. In some cases, it’s possible to apply by mail. To find out if you are eligible to apply by mail, call 1-800-206-7218, and choose option 3.

Proof of address

Proof of physical address like a utility bill, copy of a lease, and student enrolment documentation (if you’re studying in Canada) will usually be acceptable.

How much does it cost to open a Canadian bank account?

In Canada, fees and charges will vary from bank to bank. However, you can take the following costs as a guide.

Monthly fees

Banking is free for newcomers to Canada, but only for a limited period of time. Once that period expires, fees can be up to CAD$30. Many banks will waive this fee if you leave a minimum balance in your account. In most cases, the minimum amount is around CAD$3,500.

Transaction fees

Most accounts offer a limited number of free transactions per month. Once the limit is exceeded, there’ll be a fee of about CAD$1 per transaction. While some accounts offer unlimited free transactions, they’ll have higher monthly fees and greater minimum balance requirements.

ATM fees

It’s free to withdraw cash from an ATM if you use your own bank’s machines. However, it costs around CAD$1.50 per transaction if you use another bank’s ATM.

International transfer fees

While most major Canadian banks offer newcomers a few free international transfers, you may have to pay the fee when you make the transfer and then get it back at a later date. You may also be charged a hidden fee in the form of a very poor exchange rate. Additionally, keep in mind that your home bank may still charge a fee to complete the transfer.

So, if you plan to regularly send money overseas, bank-to-bank transfers may not be the best way.

So, what’s the alternative? Instead of using a traditional bank-to-bank transfer, it’s generally simpler, faster, and more economical to use a specialist money transfer service like WorldRemit.

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How to transfer money overseas from Canada?

When you sign up with WorldRemit, you can transfer money from and to Canada in just a few easy steps. You can also transfer money securely and quickly from any location with an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

With WorldRemit:

Ready to make your transfer with WorldRemit?

Sign up and send money for free using a code 3FREE