Opening a bank account in Canada

Chapter 3: The different stages of opening a bank account in Canada

Published: 08-02-2022



The different stages of opening a bank account in Canada

Unless you wish to take advantage of the Desjardins and BNC offers mentioned above, it’s not necessary to open an account or to pre-register before arriving in Canada. There’s no need to worry; opening a bank account is a simple formality that won’t take you all day!

Documents required to open a bank account in Canada

  • A valid passport
  • Your work permit
  • Your social insurance number (SIN)
  • Your tax identification number (TIN). Your TIN can be tracked to allow different governments to fight against tax evasion.

You can show these documents to your advisor during the first appointment.

Opening a bank account in Canada

Your bank account will be opened immediately and your advisor will give you your debit card, contract and the equivalent of an RIB (statement of banking identity).

The credit card, if approved, will be sent to you by post in the coming days or weeks.

At first, you’ll only have a current account opened, but it’s possible to ask to open more savings accounts either online or in a branch if you wish.

Please note that the opening of the bank account is fast, but you’ll have to wait a few days for your first international transfer to reach your Canadian account and therefore be able to use your debit card. Opening your bank account remotely (in advance) offers you the advantage of being able to start the international transfer before arriving in Canada so that you have the funds available immediately upon arrival!

If you have Canadian dollars in cash with you, you can pay them into your current account if you so wish.

Funding your Canadian account for the first time: the international transfer

Once your Canadian account is open, you can make an initial transfer from your foreign account to be able to access your savings! It’s unlikely that you’ll find a job on the day of your arrival and you will have to wait for your first paycheck anyway, which won’t be for a few weeks.

There are two ways to get your savings back:

Make a standard bank transfer from your bank at home to your Canadian bank

Transferring from account to account is the usual way of repatriating your savings to your Canadian account. However, it’s not necessarily the cheapest way. There are several fees to consider:

  • A fixed amount corresponding to the price of the transaction (international transfer). This amount is variable depending on the bank, but it’s probably around €20.
  • A percentage amount (not systematic), for example 2% of the total amount of your transfer.
  • Please note that the Canadian bank can also charge fees for receiving your international transfer (around 15 dollars). This isn’t systematic.

Depending on the bank, it may be complicated to add a beneficiary from a foreign bank using online banking. This can be a further difficulty. Make sure you can validate the request for a new beneficiary (you will often receive a text message, so your phone from home must still be active – or a letter in the post, in which case you should make sure that it’s forwarded to someone close to you or ask your bank to send the confirmation by text message instead).

The international bank transfer may take a few days (usually up to 5 business days).

Important: The IBAN does not exist in Canada. If you’re planning to make a bank-to-bank transfer, your advisor may ask you for an IBAN. You won’t be able to provide one, but that’s not a problem as they should be able to make a transfer with the following information:

  • the name of your bank
  • its details
  • its bank number
  • its establishment number
  • your bank account number
  • the SWIFT code

Making an international bank transfer via an operator

Money transfer operators have the double advantage of offering quick transfers (usually 2 or 3 days for Canada) and exchange rates which are generally more interesting than those of banks.

There are various money transfer operators. We’ve partnered with Wise, which allows you to benefit from an initial money transfer without fees (up to £3,000, or €3,400) via by using our plan. If you open your Canadian bank account before leaving for Canada, you can make your transfer a few days prior to your departure in order to have your savings available immediately upon arrival.

Chapter 3 of 5


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