Opening A Bank Account In Canada (2022): 4 Easy Steps

All Canadians have the right to open a bank account in Canada as long as they have the proper identification.

Opening an account is secure, quick and easy. It can be done within just a few minutes, either in-person or online. Here are the basic steps.

Opening a Bank Account In-Person

  1. Prepare Your Documents and Necessary Information
  2. Research Which Type of Account You Will Open
  3. Head to A Branch of Your Chosen Bank
  4. Request to Open Your Account and Deposit Funds (Optional)

Opening a Bank Account Online

  1. Prepare Your Documents and Necessary Information
  2. Choose your Account of Choice
  3. Fill Out Your Information and Answer the Necessary Questions
  4. Wait to Get Your Debit Card in the Mail!

Let’s get into the details to figure out which type of documents and identification you will need to open an account, whether the bank can deny you an account, and how to take each step above!

What You Will Need to Open a Bank Account in Canada

In order to open a bank account in Canada, you need to provide your chosen credit union or a bank with proper identification as well as your Social Insurance Number (SIN.)

The good thing is that you have the right to open a bank account in Canada even if you have been bankrupt in the past, don’t currently have a job or don’t have any money to deposit into the account.

You may also be able to open a bank account if you’re not a Canadian citizen or if you live in another country.

Your SIN is required to open an account due to tax purposes. By law, Canadian financial institutions must ask you for this information and share it with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA.) Beyond this, the bank does not have the right to use your information without your consent.

In addition to your SIN number, you must provide two pieces of identification to your bank in order to prove your identity. One of these pieces of ID must be one of the following:

  • A valid Canadian driver’s licence
  • A Canadian passport
  • A Canadian birth certificate
  • A Social Insurance card
  • A Certificate of Indian Status
  • A provincial or territorial health card
  • Old Age Security card
  • A Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization
  • A Permanent Resident card or an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) form

Your second piece of ID can be another one from the list above. It could also be a Canadian credit card, debit card, employee card from a known employer, a client card from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind or a foreign passport.

If you do not have a second piece of identification, it may also be an option to have a third party (who is in good standing with your bank and community) confirm your identity verbally.

If the bank has any reason to doubt your identity, please note that it is up to their discretion to ask for more identification or information.

Lastly, please don’t forget that if you are trying to open an account at a credit union, you will also need the money to buy at least one share of the credit union, which usually costs around $5.

If you’re interested in credit unions, check out this post on the 11 Best Credit Unions In Canada

How To Open a Bank Account in Canada: In-Person

The traditional way of opening a bank account in Canada is in-person. This is usually a seamless process if you are prepared and takes only a few minutes once you’re at the wicket or office.

1. Prepare Your Documents and Necessary Information

Prepare Your Documents and Necessary Information

Before you head to the bank, you should make sure you have the correct types of identification on you. Head to the list above to make sure you have what you need, or head to the Government of Canada website that lists everything in detail.

If you don’t have everything memorized, you should also make sure that you have all of the necessary information with you, such as your SIN, date of birth, address and postcode, telephone number, and email address.

Keep in mind that the bank might ask you about your occupation and intended purpose for the account you are opening, as well.

And remember, they cannot deny you an account unless they have reasonable doubt regarding your identity or intentions.

2. Research Which Type of Account You Will Open

 Research Which Type of Account You Will Open

Before you head to the bank or credit union of your choice, have a look online at their account offerings, costs, and features to see which one might be able to fit your banking needs best.

This way, you won’t fall for any upselling tactics or end up with an account that is ill-suited for you.

3. Head to A Branch of Your Chosen Bank

Head to A Branch of Your Chosen Bank

Next, head to the bank branch of your choice. The branch you open your account at will become the “home branch” of your account. You can still go to any other branch to have in-person services, though, so don’t worry if you move.

4. Request to Open Your Account and Deposit Funds (Optional)

Request to Open Your Account and Deposit Funds

If you are opening your account at a credit union, please keep in mind that you will have to buy a membership share in order to open your first account.

This is a one-time fee, and you will get your money back if you ever close your account at that given credit union (i.e., if you sell your share).

Once the teller confirms your identity, populates your information on the system, and opens your bank account, you are good to go!

You should be getting your debit card promptly and can likely see your account details on your online banking immediately. Keep in mind that your debit card and its PIN will likely be mailed to you in separate envelopes for security reasons!

Thinking about opening a new chequing account? Check out the eight best chequing accounts in Canada.

How To Open a Bank Account in Canada: Online

With digital banking on the rise, another way to open a bank account these days is online.

As you might already know, some digital banks, such as Tangerine and EQ Bank, do not have any in-person branches. If you have chosen a digital bank, an online account opening will be your only option.

But it is also possible to open an account online with some traditional banks in Canada. I recommend you look into whether this is an option on your chosen bank or credit union’s website.

Here are the general steps you need to take in order to open an account online in Canada. Disclaimer, it’s pretty similar to doing it in person!

1. Prepare Your Documents and Necessary Information

Prepare Your Documents and Necessary Information

Be ready with all of the necessary information before you start your online account opening procedure. You will need your identification, personal information as well as your SIN number.

Make sure that you also have a good internet connection so you can complete this process in one sitting. In most cases, the bank opening process takes about 5-10 minutes.

Don’t forget that you will likely need to provide photos of your identification. These can either be a photocopy or pictures taken on your mobile device of the front and back of the ID document. 

2. Choose your Account of Choice

Choose your Account of Choice

Once you have decided which bank or credit union you want to open an account at, go through their list of account offerings online and choose which one will best suit your needs. Then, click “open account online.”

If you’re trying to decide which of the many TD accounts is best for you, consider this post.

3. Fill Out Your Information and Answer the Necessary Questions

 Fill Out Your Information and Answer the Necessary Questions

Once you have completed this process, the account may be live immediately, or it may be necessary for an agent to review your details before completing the account opening process.

Once reviewed and validated, your debit card should be mailed to you and arrive within a few business days. The PIN will likely be mailed in a separate envelope for security reasons.

You are good to go!

The Minimum Age to Open a Bank Account in Canada

There is no minimum age to open a bank account in Canada. However, most banks require a legal parent or guardian present at the time of account opening if the youth is under the age of majority in their province or territory.

Each bank has slightly different rules and regulations for youth account openings. Luckily, however, most of them also have youth and student accounts in place that are free of monthly fees and come with many special student perks.

I have written extensively about youth accounts in Canada on Wealth Awesome. Check out these posts to learn more:

Conclusion

Opening A Bank Account In Canada

As long as you have suitable identification, opening a bank account in Canada is incredibly quick and easy. This is the case regardless of your financial history or status.

Depending on your preferences, you can open a bank account in Canada in person or online. Both are just as secure, quick and easy.

Just make sure that you do your research well before choosing your account so you don’t end up overpaying for what you’re getting.

You can learn more about chequing and savings accounts on Wealth Awesome. Start with the ten best no-fee bank accounts in Canada to get started.

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Selin is a seasoned personal finance and sustainable banking expert with several years of experience working in Canadian credit unions, both in the branch networks as well as the head office. A graduate of the University of British Columbia, she's also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers youth community and is either working with kids or travelling when she is away from her computer.

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