Opening a Bank Account: A Complete 2024 Guide

Written By
Julija A.
July 13,2023

If you’ve reached the point of seeking financial independence or just moved to Canada and want to set up your finances, one of the first things you’ll need to do is open a bank account. This can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. 

This guide will walk you through the process and explain how to open a bank account in Canada without any hassle. We will cover who is eligible to open an account, what documents are required, and what are the terms and conditions for non-residents. Let’s get started!

Who Is Eligible To Open a Bank Account?

Opening an account is usually simple, but there are criteria you need to fulfill depending on your status.

Every resident of Canada has the right to open a bank account. You can open a bank account even if you are: 

  • presently unemployed 
  • have no money to deposit at the moment
  • have previously filed for bankruptcy

Canadians age 17 and under must have a legal guardian to open an account, however, once they turn 18 these accounts automatically switch into a standardized one. Non-residents are eligible to open an account, but additional documentation is required. 

What Do You Need To Open a Bank Account in Canada?

You can open a bank account by physically going to the branch office of the bank of your choosing and applying there. Alternatively, you may apply online, which is just as secure and could be more convenient for you, as statistics show that 90% of Canadians believe that new technologies have made banking more convenient for them.

Regardless whether you’re looking to open a personal bank account or a business banking account, you’ll need to provide the documents through which the bank can confirm your indentity. The documents must be originals and not photocopies.

You need to have two documents made available for cross-referencing purposes. One document should have your name and address listed, and the other your name and date of birth. 

So, how to open a bank account in Canada in the fastest, simplest way possible? Present the bank authorities with two documents from the following list: 

  • Valid Canadian driver’s licence
  • Valid Canadian passport 
  • Birth certificate issued in Canada
  • Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN) card 
  • The Old Age Security (OAS) Identification Card
  • Certificate of Indian Status
  • Provincial or territorial health insurance card in cases where it replaces the ID 
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization
  • Permanent Resident (PR) card or an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) form IMM 1000, IMM 1442, or IMM 5292
  • An oficial document issued by select authorities with your picture and signature on it

Once you have finished the procedure you’ll have online banking access to your new account. You can access it through your internet browser or a mobile banking app. You can also use an ATM machine or go straight down to your local branch and make a withdrawal in person. 

Additionaly, pay attention to a monthly fee associated with your personal account. Although a standard practice in banking and usually paid monthly, these charges can quickly add up. It’s best to to be aware of how much you’re spending on a monthly bank charge.

Choosing a Bank Account

When looking at the benefits of having an open bank account in Canada, you should know there are two eligible account types at your disposal: a chequing account and a savings account. 

The chequing account allows you easy access to cash, and is useful for your everyday purchases and paying the bills.  

You don’t earn interest by keeping money in this account but it allows you to get a debit card, which will make your day-to-day transactions much easier.

Savings accounts allow you to save money and are important for your long-term savings. You’ll still have access to your funds, but there’ll be a limit on the monthly sum you’re allowed to withdraw.

On the other hand, having a savings account will help improve your credit score ratings so you may get a line of credit with better terms in the future.

Also, a tax-free saving account is another great option for saving money. But this offer is available only to Canadian residents aged 18 and more who have a valid SIN number

Ideally, you would want to have both savings and chequing accounts, as you will need to make daily purchases and save money for your long-term goals. Make sure to shop around when looking for a new bank and get the best deal on an annual interest rate as possible. 

Opening a Bank Account in Canada for Non-Residents

Even if you are not a permanent resident of Canada, you can still open a bank account. Not only that, but banks usually have newcomers programs to make the process easier on those relocating to Canada. 

You can start the account opening procedure before your move, but you’ll probably have to finish the process at a local branch in person. There is usually a time window in which you need to come to Canada and personally confirm your submission. 

The application is fairly easy, and it takes only a couple of minutes to fill out the forms online.

It requires your basic info: name, address, and employment status.

You can then expect a return email shortly so you can confirm your application.

Required Documents for Non-Residents

To finish the process and open a bank account in Canada, you need to go to the local branch when you get to the country. You will need a foreign passport that is still valid and one of the following documents from Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

  •     Permanent Resident Card
  •     Confirmation of Permanent Residence
  •     Work or study permit for temporary residents

One additional thing you should know is that, as a general rule, banks will ask for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), as they are required to do so by law. For those not eligible for a Canadian SIN, and this includes non-residents, the financial institution will ask for a TIN number instead.

The TIN number is the Taxpayer’s Identification Number, and for Canadians, it is in fact the SIN number. So, it may depend on the main financial institution in the country of your origin, but most likely, the TIN is going to be used as your social security number. 

You should provide the TIN number if you have it, but you’ll be allowed to move on with the procedure even if you can’t supply one.

Bottom Line 

If you’re unfamiliar with the procedure, opening a Canadian bank account may seem difficult, but after collecting all the necessary information, you’ll see that it’s a fairly straightforward process.

Having a bank account in Canada gives you a lot of benefits, like being able to keep track of your regular spending and your savings.

There are likely to be several types of bank accounts you’ll be eligible for, so it’s best to do your research before making a final decision.


What do I need to open a bank account in Canada?


Opening a bank account is a fairly straightforward process. The first step is to choose the type of account that best suits your needs. Once you’ve chosen an account, you’ll need to visit a branch of the bank in person and bring some personal identification along. 

The most common forms of ID are a passport or driver’s license. You may also be asked to provide proof of address, such as verification of utility bill payments or lease agreement.


Can a foreigner open a bank account in Canada?


Yes. You don’t have to be a citizen or a resident of Canada to open a bank account. You can open a bank account online, although it’s likely you’ll have to go to a branch and finalize the process in person.


Can I open a bank account online?


Yes. You can apply for a bank account through the website of the bank of your choosing. You will be required to submit personal information, and you will get an email with a list of the required papers. However, you’ll usually need to complete the process in person at your bank’s local branch.


About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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