How To Apply For Bank Account In Canada – As a permanent resident (PR) or an international student moving to another country, it is not just important and critical that you have access to your savings. Starting your new life in a new place is intertwined with your financial journey, with makes it important that you understand the basics of banking.
Canada’s financial industry is made up of banks, credit unions, trusts, and other financial and insurance companies and it is known to be one of the most sound and safest in the world. According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2019, published by the World Economic Forum, Canada ranked 9th in the world for its financial system, proving stability and reliability.
In this article, we will be outlining some of the leading banks in Canada, and take you through the process of opening a bank account in Canada.
What Are The Largest Banks In Canada?
There are five largest banks in Canada are usually referred to as the “big five” in banking, and they are;
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
RBC stands as the largest bank in Canada, and offers customer service in an impressive 200+ languages.
Royal Bank of Canada is a popular choice among immigrants because of its Newcomers to Canada package, which helps expats find lots of helpful information and services to get their finances sorted as they settle into Canadian life, along with a choice of accounts, services and perks.
2. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
TD Bank is another major bank that offers a special package for newcomers to Canada. There’s a dedicated hub offering helpful information and advice, and also a newcomer special offer of no monthly fees for 6 months.
3. Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
Being one of the top five biggest banks in Canada, Scotiabank has an impressive 4000+ ATMs across the country, and offers four main chequing accounts, which are;
- Basic Bank Account
- Basic Plus Bank Account
- Preferred Package
- Ultimate Package
4. Bank of Montreal (BMO)
Bank of Montreal stands as the oldest bank in Canada, and just as its counterparts, it offers a dedicated package for newcomers to the country
5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
You can decide choose any financial institution of your choice, since you now know that the big five banks have newcomer banking packages that specifically aids permanent residents and international students and are thus better positioned to assist you in your unique situation.
Types Of Bank Accounts For Foreigners In Canada
There are two major types of bank accounts in Canada:
- Chequing Account: An essential basic account for day to day transactions and purchases.
- Savings Account: A high-interest account to help you save money over a longer-term.
Bank Accounts For Permanent Residents
- VIP Banking: Includes unlimited debit transactions, no monthly fee for a year, and three no-fee international money transfers per month for 12 months.
- No Limit Banking: Includes unlimited debit transactions, no monthly fee for a year, and two no-fee international money transfers per month for 12 months.
- Signature No Limit Banking: Includes unlimited debit transactions, unlimited free Interac e-Transfers, and two no-fee international money transfers per month for 12 months.
- High-Interest eSavings: Requires no minimum deposit and has a $0 monthly fee.
- U.S. Personal Account: Ideal for frequent U.S. travellers.
Bank Accounts For International Students
Student Banking: No monthly fee and includes 25 free debit transactions per month.
No Limit Banking for Students: Includes unlimited debit transactions.
Note: Both these accounts don’t need you to maintain a minimum balance and offer unlimited free Interac e-Transfer transactions.
Documents Required To Apply For A Bank Account In Canada
You can begin the process to open a bank account even though you are still in pre-arrival. All you have to do is book an appointment to speak with a bank Advisor, and they will guide you with detailed steps.
- Your valid, current passport
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) and/or Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Proof of address
- Employer photo ID from an established company
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN).
International students will also need:
- Student permit (IMM 1442) or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)
- Proof of enrollment (optional, good-to-have)
Note: Permitted identification documents may depend on the province.
Opening A Bank Account In Canada As A Non-Resident
It might excite you to know that you to know that you can still open a Canadian bank account even if you are not a Citizen of the country. As long as you have the right identification and other documentation, you can open an account even if you don’t have a job or even the money for an initial deposit right away.
Although this is great, you may still find it difficult to acquire the relevant documentation in some circumstances. For example, you may not have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which banks are required to ask for under Canada’s Income Tax Act.
However, you can apply for a SIN using a work or study permit, along with your passport. Although some banks will accept applications from non-residents without a SIN, and you may also be able to open non-interest-bearing bank accounts without one.
How To Open A Canadian Bank Account Outside Canada
If you are yet to begin your move to Canada, the good news is that you should be able to at least start your bank account application from overseas. The first important step is to contact the bank, to check what you’ll need to do and the documents required.
You should have in mind that it can take a few days to open a Canadian bank account from overseas. It can also be quite complex, with many calls between you and a dedicated account-opening team. To ensure a smooth process, make sure you have your immigration documents, permits and all other required documents in advance.
Some banks need you to physically visit a branch to complete the process once you arrive in Canada. This can potentially work in your favour, as it can be easier and quicker to sort out any issues physically.
Even though Canada’s major banks offer products meant specifically to newly arrived non-residents, you may find that your choice of accounts and services are few. Due to this, and the complexity of applying from overseas, it is more advisable that you wait until you arrive in Canada to open a bank account.
Get a Canadian Credit Card
Having a credit rating or a credit score is very important for life in Canada. A credit score is a way for financial institutions to measure your ability to repay loans. A good credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates on mortgages and other loans down the line. To get started with building your credit history, having and using a credit card is essential.
With credit cards you enjoy the convenience of paying for things easily, without having to carry cash. Unlike a debit card, a credit card allows you to make purchases first (even if you don’t have the funds on your account) and pay later. It is like having access to a loan from a bank. But you must keep in mind that credit cards have limits and do not offer free money. They can come with very high-interest rates, so your balance should be managed and paid down promptly, with this you can maintain a good credit rating. After you receive your credit card, get started by making payments for small expenses such as phone bills or groceries. This will help build your credit history gradually.
Frequently Asked Questions
Foreigners are allowed to open bank accounts in Canada as long as they provide sufficient identifications properly. Although, the required documentation depends on what your designated financial institution demands. Hence, you must make sure you ask what additional documents you may need before opening a bank account.
Bank Fees and Minimum Deposit
Even though no minimum deposit is required at most banks to open an account, there is a minimum monthly balance that banks require you to keep if you want your monthly fees waived. This amount is usually somewhere in the range of 3,500 CAD (2,634 USD).
The best banks for newcomers to Canada are:
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
TD Canada Trust.
Bank of Montreal (BMO)
Canada is a great place to work, study, or live. So if you are considering moving to Canada, you may want to open a bank account before arriving in the country or open a bank account when you get there, but the point is that, opening a bank account is very essential as you live in Canada.
Although opening a bank account in Canada can be difficult if you’re not yet a resident, yet it is not impossible, and to get a quicker result, you might want to consider contacting a Canadian bank and requesting their assistanc.
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