Opening a bank account in Canada

Chapter 1: Is opening a bank account in Canada with an International Experience Canada (IEC) permit (Working Holiday, Internship, Young Professionals) a mandatory step?

Published: 08-02-2022

Author

Julie


When you go to Canada on a Working Holiday, a Young Professionals permit, or even an internship permit, you will be living there for several months. That’s when the question arises: should I open a bank account in Canada to handle my daily transactions?

Opening a bank account in Canada to be paid by your Canadian employer

The majority of Working Holiday visa holders in Canada plan to work, either throughout their stay or just occasionally. Canadian employers therefore need your bank account details to be able to pay you. Similarly, if you are self-employed with Canadian clients, you will need a local account to receive your payments.
In fact, it is not possible for your Canadian employer to make international transfers to your foreign bank account as the bank charges are much too high! A Canadian account is therefore necessary so as not to complicate things unnecessarily.

Opening an account in Canada to manage daily expenses

Whether you usually pay your daily expenses in cash or by card, opening a local account is essential to avoid paying very high international withdrawal or payment fees.
In addition, having a Canadian account will enable you to make transfers quickly (whether for your rent, to pay back your friends in Canada, etc.).

Opening an account in Canada = getting proof of address!

When you arrive in Canada, you will quickly have to take care of things such as setting up a phone line, registering at the library, etc. You will often need a proof of address to do this. Your local bank contract is the easiest and quickest proof of address to obtain when you first arrive while you are waiting to find permanent accommodation.

If you are planning to travel around Canada while you are there, having a proof of address is also a plus, especially since you won’t have any other document confirming your Canadian residency (for example, to get Canadian resident discounts for various activities and visits).

Do I still need to keep my account open back at home?

Logically, you will need to keep your account open at least until you can transfer money to your Canadian account. This means you won’t be able to close your account before you leave (remember that in order to obtain your Working Holiday Visa from Canadian immigration, you will have to show proof of recent funds). However, once you’ve arrived in Canada and opened a Canadian account, you can move all your savings to Canada and close your home account if you so wish!

Nevertheless, even if there are bank fees to pay, we advise you to keep your account open:

  • Keeping your account open will be one less administrative formality to tick off the list when you return home after your stay in Canada
  • It may be more practical to keep your bank card from your country of origin, in case you return home temporarily for example
  • It allows you to continue to pay bills (such as the repayment of an outstanding loan) and receive transfers (such as rent payments if you’re a landlord).

If I’m an unpaid intern or don’t intend to work in Canada, is it really necessary to open an account?

Yes and no. But opening a local account for the reasons mentioned above (especially since it’s a simple formality) will definitely make your life easier.

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