How to open a bank account in Canada?

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

What research is required from your end before you proceed to open a bank account?

After I landed here in Canada, I was little worried to be honest because of the long list of "Things to do after Landing".

This list varies from person to person but there is one thing for sure and that's .. you don't have to check all the items in the list right away. Take your time to understand how things work in this new country and off-course a totally different economy.

So, after getting over with the jet lag from more than 20 hours long flight (from Delhi to Calgary), I decided to personally go to the following banks:

1. TD

2. Scotiabank


4. BMO

5. RBC


Indian Banks which are here in Canada namely SBI and ICICI Bank were not offering any incentives. So, I didn't plan a meeting with these banks.

I once heard that going to the banks is better than just visiting their websites and making a decision. But, I have a different opinion after my experience at these banks in Calgary. Every bank was offering me the same information which I had already studied well on the respective banks website.

I even asked what else can you offer apart from the services and benefits listed online. They, very politely replied that they can't offer anything over and above the incentives mentioned on the website. So, all in all these banks follow what is there in the guidelines quite properly.

As a new immigrant having a permanent resident status provides certain banking benefits here in Canada. Most of you might be aware that here quite a lot is charged in the name of account fees or bank charges. The fees can vary from $15 to $30 or more depending on the bank.

Some banks offer opening incentives like cashback of $300,$350 or $700 after you satisfy certain conditions in a 60 to 90 days period after opening the bank account. These benefits do not last forever. So, whenever you land,these incentives can vary and you should check each such banks website and make your decision.

Things to consider before making your mind (don't just get carried away with these promotional bonus offers):

a. Is this a relatively big bank?

b. Does it have enough branches all over the city, in case you need some urgent services through bank like getting a money order issued?

c. Does it have enough ATMs or ABMs of its own in the city and if not then how much do they charge for non (that specific) bank ABM (Automated Banking Machines) withdrawals?

d. Whenever you see that you are eligible for earning Cash or bonus on opening a bank account with a certain Bank then, just be aware whether you will have to fulfill few conditions (let's say any 2 out of 3 conditions) or all conditions.

e. Being a new immigrant means you will transfer money back from your Country to Canada, so you need to consider what charges are being charged by the bank for incoming wire transfers?

TD : $17

Scotiabank: $15

BMO : $17

CIBC : $15

(Subject to change, please confirm with the bank first)

After deciding which bank you will be going forward with, you might need an appointment in advance with the financial advisor to open a bank account. In total, it takes around 45 minutes. Documents required:

1. Landing papers- Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) or PR Card

2. Social Insurance number

3. Passport

There are other documents as well that can be used for Identification purpose but for that, please check with the bank.

More information and useful tips on banking - coming up!

I'll keep sharing my experiences on all my social media handles. Keep following for more updates.

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