Expats » Opening A Bank Account As A Foreigner In Canada

Opening A Bank Account As A Foreigner In Canada

By IntFormalities
Published on March 30, 2023
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

A bank account is essential for staying on top of your finances. It helps to store money, pay bills, receive wages, and carry out many other financial transactions. In Canada, opening a bank account as a citizen is straightforward. If you are a foreigner in the country or living overseas and planning on moving to the country, opening a Canadian bank account is not too difficult. In this article, we’ll tell you how to open a bank account as a foreigner in Canada.

How To Open A Bank Account As A Foreigner In Canada

Documents Required To Open A Bank Account 

You can open an account in person once in Canada, or you can take the steps online outside Canada before arriving. To access banking facilities, you will require various pieces of identification to prove who you are and where you live. It is not possible to open an account without id. The forms of ID listed below are commonly accepted:

  • A valid passport (one that is current and not expired),
  • Papers to prove your immigration status (such as a card which proves you are a permanent resident, temporary resident permit, study/work permit)
  • Your SIN, which is the social insurance number,
  • Documents to prove your address.     

A regular tourist in the country for a short period cannot open an account


To arrive in Canada, you’ll have to use a passport. A valid passport from most countries is sufficient to prove your identification. A passport from a nation with which Canada has many ties, such as the United States, potentially has greater credibility. However, the most important thing is that the passport is genuine and not fraudulent.  

Immigration Status

People must prove they have legal rights in the country. A person entering the country legally is given documents to prove their immigration status.  For instance, refugees seeking asylum have a Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD). Or temporary residents are issued with IMM 1442 to verify their status. 

Social Insurance Number (SIN) 

To access the benefits system or to work, you need a Social Insurance Number. SIN is also used to file taxes. Most banks require a Social Insurance Number to open an account. Anyone with the proper immigration documents can obtain a Social Insurance Number. After application, it usually takes 10 business days to receive it. 

Proof Of Address

A letter from work, an educational establishment, or a tenancy agreement with your address in Canada is sufficient to prove your address. It is a requirement to open a bank account. After living in Canada for some time, you will have built up many other documents that can act as proof of address. 

Types Of Bank Accounts

There are two types of bank accounts available with Canadian banks. They are chequing or saving

Opening a chequing account needs to be one of the first things newly arrived people need to do. A Chequing account is used for regular day-to-day banking and provides no interest on the balance. Chequing accounts are similar to current accounts in other countries and facilitate services like:

  • Withdrawals from ATMs,
  • Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD) and bank transfers,
  • Providing bank Cards,
  • Telephone banking,
  • Online banking,
  • Provide cheques,
  • Paying bills.

A savings account, in contrast, provides a facility to save money. These types of accounts attract interest and are used for holding money in the longer term. A savings account is something to consider after living in Canada for a while. 

Banking Fees

Bank accounts in Canada attract a fee. The charges vary from one bank to another. These are the typical fees seen:

  • ATM fees. There are no charges if you use an ATM owned by your bank. However, using a machine operated by another bank, there are costs. The average price is CAD$3
  • Monthly charge. For people new to Canada, there are no charges. Free banking is available for a period (usually 6 to 12 months). But after that time, the bank will charge a monthly fee. Depending on the offered services, the cost can range from CAD$3.95 to CAD$15. Some banks waive the cost if the account holds a minimum balance
  • Transaction Fee. Banks offer a certain number of transactions without any fees. A transaction is, for example, an ATM withdrawal. After exceeding the limit, there are charges. The typical transaction fee is CAD$1.
  • Fees For International Transfer. If you are in Canada as a non-resident student, you may be transferring money from your home country. As a worker in Canada, you are possibly sending money overseas. There is a charge for the service, and the exchange rate offered is likely to be low. You should seek alternative ways to carry out a money transfer.

What Bank To Choose?

Banking is a major industry in Canada, led by some big names. Some of these banks are:

All of them are highly reputable. How to open an account with one of these banks? Visit a branch or take the steps through their website. The first 4 banks on the list offer people on a temporary resident visa to open an account without a social insurance number. There are online-only banks such as Tangerine and EQ Bank which offer free online banking.

Opening A Bank Account Is Easy!

Opening a bank account as a foreigner in Canada is not taxing at all! Documents to prove immigration status, a valid passport, proof of address, and SIN are sufficient to access banking services. Hopefully, this article has been of use, and we hope you enjoy your time in Canada!

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