In decades past, opening a bank account required you to physically visit a branch location. While that’s still an option, now you can skip the trip and open a bank account online from the comfort of your own home. Just make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and have the proper documentation ready before you start.
What it means to open a bank account online
Opening a bank account online means using your smartphone or computer to apply for an account through your bank’s website or mobile app instead of physically going to a bank or credit union. The online process can be quick and easy if you have everything organized and ready to go.
Who can open a bank account online in Canada?
The eligibility requirements to open a bank account online or in person are the same.
You typically need to be the age of majority in your province or territory. If you’re younger, you can likely open a youth account, such as the CIBC Youth account with help from a parent or guardian. Each bank has its own account-opening rules for people under 18 years of age, so check with the bank to learn more about your student or youth account options.
If this is your first account at the financial institution, you need to show identification to open a bank account. However, if you already have another account with the bank, you can likely skip this step and confirm whether your information is still accurate.
You do not need to have a job to open a bank account in Canada, and you don’t have to have money ready to deposit right away. You’re also eligible to open a bank account if you’ve declared bankruptcy in the past.
Steps to open a bank account online
While the process may vary a bit from one financial institution to another, these are the general steps to follow to open an account from the comfort of your home.
When opening an account online, the process is usually timed, so make sure you have a secure internet connection and all the papers and documents you need before you start. If you have to go searching for information during the online process, you may run out of time and have to start over.
Step 1: Choose your account type
Before you can open an account, you need to know what type of bank account you want. It could be a chequing account, high-interest savings account, an account with special benefits, like a bank account for students or seniors.
Think about how you’ll use the account as you review the options. Depending on the financial institution, you may only be able to open certain types of accounts online. For the rest, you’ll need to visit a branch in person.
Once you’ve decided what type of account to open, take the time to compare products between several banks and credit unions. Look at features like the number of free withdrawals each month, fees, minimum deposits, interest rates and any perks or benefits offered.
Step 2: Complete an application
After choosing the account that best fits your needs, it’s time to apply.
On the webpage for the account you’ve chosen, you should see a button that says “open an account” or something similar.
Clicking this button takes you to a secure page where you enter your personal information, including your name, address and phone number. Depending on the type of account you open, you may or may not be asked for your Social Insurance Number, or SIN.
Step 3: Verify your identity
Whether you open a bank account online or in person, you need to provide formal identification to prove your identity. Commonly used forms of ID include:
- Valid Canadian driver’s license.
- Valid Canadian passport.
- Canadian birth certificate.
- SIN number.
- Old Age Security card.
- Certificate of Indian Status.
- Provincial or territorial health card.
- Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization.
- Permanent Resident card or an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada form IMM 1000, IMM 1442 or IMM 5292. Some banks may also accept a form IMM 5688.
- A document card with your photo and picture issued by select provincial and territorial authorities.
Some banks, especially online-only banks, allow you to upload a photo of the identification on their website or app. However, some traditional banks and credit unions may require you to visit a branch and show your ID in person before you can open the account.
Once you’ve verified your identity, you can submit the application and wait for your bank card to arrive. Then you can deposit or move money into your new account and start using it.
Pros and cons of opening a bank account online
Opening a bank account online can be convenient, but it’s not always the best option. Here are some pros and cons:
- Fast and easy.
- More options, such as an online-only bank.
- Can only open certain accounts online.
- May be required to visit a branch to verify your identification by some financial institutions.
- Must wait for your bank card to arrive in the mail (most banks give you a temporary card if you open an account in person).
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