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Published January 17, 2024
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How to Open a Bank Account

You can open a bank account online, over the phone or at a branch. Make sure you have two forms of identification ready.

Almost anyone can open a bank account at a bank or credit union across the country

Even for non-residents living, working or going to school in Canada, banks offer a variety of bank accounts that can be opened in person or online, in a few steps.

How to open a bank account in person

The traditional way of opening a bank account is to go to the financial institution in person. Although, banks may ask you to book an appointment before you visit a branch. 

You don’t need to have a job or the money to deposit right away, but you’ll need to keep the required ID and documents with you. After you’ve answered some necessary questions regarding your name, date of birth, address, etc. the bank representative will help you open an account in just a few minutes. 

Once your account is open, you will receive a debit card which you can start using right away.

How to open a bank account online

Like most online banks, many traditional banks now allow you to open a bank account online. The process is very similar to what you would do in person. You will need to answer personal questions, upload the required documents, and verify your identity either online or in person as per the bank’s policy. 

Once you’ve completed the process and your account is active, the bank will mail you your debit card.

What do I need to open a bank account?

To open your bank account in Canada, you will need to provide two forms of identification as verification. The most commonly accepted types of identity documents to prove your name, address, age and nationality include:

  • Valid Canadian driver’s license.
  • Valid Canadian passport.
  • Canadian birth certificate.
  • 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 Citizen Canada form IMM 1000, IMM 1442, or IMM 5292. Some banks may also accept form IMM 5688.
  • A document card with your photo and picture issued by select provincial and territorial authorities (find the list here).

If you only have a single piece of ID from the primary list, you can use one of the following as your secondary document:

  • Record of employment in Canada
  • Canadian debit or bank card with your name and signature
  • Canadian credit card statement
  • Client card from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind with your photo and signature
  • Current foreign passport

Note that you must show the original documents to open a bank account. Photocopies will not be accepted.

If you’re opening an account where you’ll earn interest, such as a high-interest savings account (HISA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), you are required to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN). Because the interest you earn on these accounts is taxable, the financial institution needs your SIN to report that income to the Canada Revenue Agency.

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What to consider when opening a bank account

When opening your first bank account, think about how you would use it. If you want an account to handle day-to-day transactions, choose a chequing account. If you’re planning to save up for a special expense, a savings account may be ideal.

You’ll see that most banks offer these standard account options. However, the bank and account fees, interest rates, withdrawal limits and perks may vary. So, take your time to do some research and find the right account type and financial institution to best suit your specific needs.

What’s the minimum age to open a bank account in Canada?

Different banks have different age limits for children, youth and student accounts. For example, suppose you’re under the age of majority in your province or territory. In that case, you might not be able to open an account online. For some accounts, like the CIBC Youth account, you need to open the account with a parent or legal guardian.

In most cases, anyone with a valid government-issued ID and supporting documents can open a bank account in Canada. However, each bank has its own age restrictions and qualification rules for these accounts, so it’s a good idea to look at a few options before choosing an account.

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