Branch closures

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Amount of notice that you must get

A federally regulated financial institution, such as a bank, must give you four months’ notice when it’s planning to close a branch or end certain activities.

You must receive this notice about all retail deposit-taking branches.

A retail deposit-taking branch is one where:

  • a bank employee or teller can open bank accounts for you
  • you can receive cash from a bank employee or teller

Branch closures in rural areas

In a rural area, if there are no other retail deposit-taking branches within 10 kilometers, the closing financial institution must:

  • give you six months’ notice
  • notify your local government
  • publish a notice in a local newspaper

Information you must get when your branch is closing

The financial institution must send you the following details in the closure notice:

  • the location of the branch that’s closing
  • the date of the closure
  • the address of the branch to which your accounts will be transferred
  • the name of a different site where you can get services similar to those given at the branch that’s closing, or a telephone number so you can find out these details
  • any action to keep services in the area by the branch
  • a statement and the circumstances under which the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada will require the financial institution to hold a meeting about the branch closure or end of certain activities
  • how to contact it and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada about the proposed closure

Meetings about a branch closure

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Commissioner will hold a meeting about the proposed branch closure if the following conditions are met:

  • someone locally affected by the closure writes to the Agency asking for such a meeting
  • the federally regulated financial institution has failed to properly consult the community about the closure
  • the request isn't “frivolous” or “vexatious”, meaning the request is serious and not made only as a way to cause trouble for the financial institution

A meeting won't be required if the branch that is closing:

  • is sold to another retail deposit-taking financial institution, but will continue to operate as a branch
  • moves to a new location that is less than 500 metres away
  • is temporarily closed due to events beyond its control, for example if the branch is closed due to a natural disaster such as a flood

Questions to ask your financial institution when your branch closes

If you have concerns about your branch closing, discuss them with your financial institution.

Ask your financial institution the following questions:

  • Will it waive fees for transferring accounts such as registered savings plans to other financial institutions?
  • Will it extend hours at the new branch to allow for travel time for rural customers?
  • Will the new branch have a toll-free number that customers who live outside the local calling area may call?
  • Will it give you a credit reference if you decide to switch to another financial institution?
  • Will it make arrangements with another financial institution for customers to use their automated teller machine (ATM) without any charge, or to make night deposits?
  • Will it pay for the costs associated with changing to the new branch, such as ordering new cheques, changing direct debits and so on?
  • How can it help you find alternative services to meet your banking needs?

Changing business hours

Financial institutions can change their business hours without consulting anyone. They are responsible for setting their own business hours. They set their hours based on their own internal policies and guidelines. These guidelines vary by financial institution.

If you’re not satisfied with a decision made by your branch, you may file a complaint with your financial institution.

Learn how to file a complaint.

You may also consider switching to online banking or moving your account to another financial institution that offers hours that are better for your schedule.

Use the Account Comparison Tool to help you find the account that best suits your needs.

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