How to Open a Bank Account for Foreigners in Canada

February 2, 2024


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

With its reputation for stability, diversity, and opportunity, Canada is an attractive destination for individuals seeking to establish financial roots in a new country. Newcomers to Canada might find it hard to understand how banks work here.

To ease your financial integration in Canada, we will explore the essential steps and considerations involved in opening a bank account as a foreigner in Canada, empowering you to navigate this important milestone confidently.

Discover the streamlined process and essential steps for foreigners to open a bank account in Canada successfully!

Things to Consider Before Opening a Bank Account as a Foreigner in Canada

Several essential factors must be considered before taking the plunge and opening a bank account in Canada as a foreigner. These factors include:

  • Which purpose will you be using the account, e.g., saving or making payments,
  • Number of charges or fees due on the account,
  • Earnings potential from the interest accumulated from the money in your account, and
  • Having a clear understanding of the terms and conditions of your account,
  • Receipt of your account agreement, and
  • If you have deposit insurance to protect your deposits.

The Right to Open a Bank Account in Canada

In Canada, the right to open a bank account is fundamental and protected by law via the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, ensuring all residents' access to essential financial services, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Therefore, you can open a bank account ( deposit or personal account) or other savings accounts at a bank.

This includes federal credit unions, authorized foreign banks, provincially regulated financial institutions, or other federally regulated financial institutions offering bank account services. You can open a bank account even if you are unemployed or bankrupt and can’t immediately deposit cash into your account.

As part of your rights, after you have opened your account, your bank should provide you with information about your account, including:

  • A Copy of the account agreement,
  • A List of all charges due on the account,
  • Interest rate information (if applicable),
  • maximum cheque hold periods information,
  • Policies for when maximum cheque hold periods don’t apply, and
  • Electronic alert circumstances.

How To Open a Bank Account in Canada

Here are the streamlined, step-by-step processes to open an account in Canada as a foreigner at the bank and online.

At the Bank

To open an account at the bank, you must:

Step 1: Choose a Canadian Bank Account That Caters to Foreigners

The first step in opening a bank account at a physical branch in Canada is to research and select a bank that offers accounts specifically designed for foreigners. Major Canadian banks that offer bank account services to foreigners in Canada include:

These accounts often come with features such as multilingual customer support, waived fees for newcomers, and assistance with the documentation process.

Step 2: Visit Your Chosen Bank's Local Branch With the Required Identification Documents

Once you've chosen a bank, the next step is to visit a local branch in person. Be sure to bring the required identification documents, which typically include:

  • Document indicating your name and address,
  • Document indicating your date of birth,
  • identification issued by the Canadian government or provincial or territorial government,
  • Tax assessment notices issued by the provincial, territorial, or federal Canadian government,
  • Benefits statements from the provincial, territorial, or federal Canadian government,
  • Canadian public utility bill,
  • Credit card statements, and
  • Foreign passports.

It's essential to verify the specific requirements of your chosen bank to ensure you have all the necessary paperwork.

Step 3: Speak With a Bank Representative About Opening An Account as a Foreigner

Upon arriving at the bank branch, inform a bank representative that you are interested in opening an account as a foreigner. The representative will guide you through the process and assist you in choosing the right type of account based on your needs and eligibility.

They may also provide information about any special offers or promotions available to newcomers, such as waived monthly fees or bonus incentives for opening a new account.

Step 4: Complete and Submit The Required Application Forms And Documents

Once you've selected the type of account you wish to open, the bank representative will provide you with the necessary application forms to fill out. These forms will require you to provide personal information such as your name, address, contact details, and employment status.

Step 5: After Your Application is Approved, Deposit the Minimum Required Fee

After submitting your application forms and documents, the bank will review your information and assess your eligibility for opening an account. Once your application is approved, the bank will notify you, and you can deposit the minimum required fee to activate your account.


You can open a bank account online by following these steps::

Step 1: Choose an Online Bank or Financial Institution

The first step in opening a bank account online in Canada is to choose an online bank or financial institution that meets your needs and preferences. Several reputable online banks in Canada, such as Tangerine, EQ Bank, and Simplii Financial, offer various banking services tailored to different customer needs.

Step 2: Visit Your Chosen Online Bank’s Website and go to Its Account-Opening Service

Once you've selected an online bank, visit its official website and navigate to the section dedicated to account opening or new customer enrollment. This section may be labeled "Open an Account," "Get Started," or something similar.

From there, you'll typically find information about the types of accounts available and instructions on how to proceed with the application process. Follow the prompts to begin the account-opening process.

Step 3: Complete the Online Application Form With The Necessary Information

The next step is to complete the online application form with the required information. This form will typically ask for personal details such as your:

You may also need to provide information about your employment status, income, and citizenship or residency status.

Step 4: Upload The Required Digital Documentation

In addition to completing the online application form, you must upload digital copies of the required documentation to verify your identity and address. This documentation may include a valid passport or government-issued identification, proof of address (such as a utility bill or rental agreement), and, in some cases, additional documents related to your immigration status or financial history.

Step 5: Wait For the Approval of Your Application

Once you've submitted your online application and uploaded the required documentation, all that's left to do is wait for the approval of your application. The processing time may vary depending on the bank and the application volume, but you can expect to receive a decision within a few business days.

Can a Bank Refuse to Open an Account For You?

A bank may refuse to open an account for you as a foreign due to the following circumstances:

  • If they reasonably believe your account will be used for fraudulent or illegal purposes,
  • Find out you have a history of fraudulent or illegal activity with financial service providers(in the last seven years),
  • If you made false statements in the information you provided,
  • If they think you may cause physical harm to, harass, or abuse its employees or customers,
  • The bank only offers accounts linked to an existing account with another bank, which you don’t already have,
  • You are not allowed to verify the identification information you presented is valid, and
  • If you don’t agree to become a financial institution member, it is a federal credit union.

Benefits of Opening a Bank Account in Canada as a Foreigner

In today's interconnected world, the benefits of establishing a bank account in Canada as a foreigner extend far beyond mere convenience. Here are some of the more prominent benefits:

Can Conduct Seamless International Transactions

Opening a bank account in Canada empowers you to conduct international transactions effortlessly. Whether sending money to loved ones abroad, investing in global markets, or receiving payments from overseas clients, having a local Canadian bank account streamlines the process and minimizes associated fees.

Access to Canada’s Diverse Banking Services

Canadian banks offer a wide array of financial services tailored to meet the diverse needs of their clients. From basic savings and checking accounts to specialized products like investment accounts, mortgages, and credit cards, you can access comprehensive banking solutions to help you achieve your financial goals.

Learn more with Canada’s Job Bank.

Enhances Your Credibility and Trustworthiness in Canada

Having a local bank account in Canada enhances your credibility and trustworthiness, especially when conducting business or applying for rental accommodations. It demonstrates your commitment to integrating into the Canadian financial system, which can bolster your reputation and open doors to various opportunities.

Builds a Strong Credit History in Canada

Establishing a bank account in Canada lays the foundation for building a strong credit history, which is crucial for accessing credit cards, loans, and other financial products with favorable terms and conditions. A positive credit history facilitates your current financial endeavors and paves the way for future opportunities, such as purchasing a home or starting a business.

Seamless Integration into Canadian Society

Beyond finances, opening a bank account in Canada facilitates your integration into Canadian society. It provides you with a tangible connection to the local community. It fosters a sense of belonging, enabling you to participate more actively in daily life, from shopping and dining to philanthropic endeavors.

Find the 5 things you need to know about moving to Canada.

Opportunity for Long-Term Residency in Canada

A local bank account is often a prerequisite for those considering long-term residency or eventual citizenship in Canada. It demonstrates your commitment to establishing roots in the country and showcases your ability to adapt to its financial landscape, which can positively influence immigration and citizenship applications.

Learn about the 7 benefits of long-term residency in Canada.


What Should I Do if I Encounter Difficulties or Have Questions During The Account Opening Process?

If you encounter difficulties or have questions while opening a bank account in Canada, don't hesitate to contact the bank's customer service team for assistance. They can provide guidance and support to help you navigate the process smoothly.

Can I Transfer Money to My Canadian Bank Account From Abroad?

Yes, most Canadian banks offer international wire transfer services, allowing you to transfer funds from your foreign bank account to your Canadian bank account. However, be aware of any associated fees and currency exchange rates.

Do I Need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to Open a Bank Account in Canada?

A SIN or ITIN can facilitate the account opening process, but it is not always required. Many banks offer options for foreigners to open accounts using alternative forms of identification.