How to Open a Bank Account in Canada

By Kirsten Barkved on February 17, 2017

This is the latest installment in our Education Series, where we simplify Fintech in an easy to understand language that doesn’t make you go cross-eyed.

Whether you’re new or moving to Canada, it might feel a bit overwhelming figuring out where to set up a bank account. With so many options and information out there, it’s easy to feel confused: what kind of account should you open, where should you bank, what do you need? Where do you even start?

We break it down for you. Because at VoPay, we’re all about easy.

Banks and other financial institutions, like Credit Unions, are safe, secure spaces for you to keep your hard-earned money. Having a bank account opens possibilities for you that go beyond simply looking after your money. A Canadian bank account allows you to write cheques, use automated banking machines, receive funds through direct deposit, send money online, and use a debit card. These things not only make navigating everyday life in Canada easier, they create ease and accessibility.

In Canada, anyone can open a bank account. It doesn’t matter if you don’t yet have employment, money to put in your account right away, have poor credit, or experienced bankruptcy. As long as there is no evidence of fraud or any other illegal activity, such as money laundering or terrorism, you’ll find that your new Canadian bank is willing to work with any and all financial histories and standings.

How to Set Up an Account

To set up a bank account, all you need is to provide them with proof of identification to verify who you are.  These documents must be originals, be in good condition, and not be expired. Different banks have different policies, though, so it’s a best to get in touch with the bank of your choice beforehand to make sure you have everything you need. Typically, if you’re new to Canada/planning on moving to Canada, most banks will accept one of the following immigration papers: temporary residence permit, work or study permit, or Confirmation of Permanent Residence.

Opening an Account Remotely

If you aren’t yet in Canada but want to be all set up before you move, it’s entirely possible to open a bank account online (technology!) or via email or phone. You will be asked a few questions to determine whether you’re a temporary resident on a work or study visa or a permanent resident.

Once complete, you’ll be contacted by the bank’s account-opening team. This typically involves a wait time of up to three business days.

If setting up an account via the phone or email isn’t your thing (sometimes, even in our tech-based world, it’s easier to do things in person) and you don’t want to wait a few days to hear back, you can also set up an appointment at a physically branch and visit there once you arrive in Canada. All of Canada’s major banks have tailored programs for new arrivals.

Types of Bank Accounts

There are two types of bank accounts and which one you decide to go with will depend on how you plan on using your money. Chequing accounts let you write cheques and typically include the use of a debit card. A chequing account is required if your employer uses automated deposit for payroll and easier if you want to be doing things like writing cheques, setting up automatic withdrawals, and sending money overseas.

If you’d rather be saving what you earn, a Savings account is helpful, since they have a higher interest rate than chequing accounts.

At VoPay, we work with ANY bank accounts in Canada. We provide you with options to send your money overseas and use innovative technology to work with your bank to get your money to where it matters most, without delay, at rates you deserve.