Opening a bank account

Your right to open a bank account

You have the right to open a bank account (also called deposit or personal account) or other types of saving accounts at a bank. That includes federal credit unions and authorized foreign banks.

You can also do so at any provincially regulated financial institution or other types of federally regulated financial institution that offer this product or service.

You can open a bank account even if you:

You can open a bank account either in person, by electronic means or by telephone. The bank must be able to confirm your identity through proper identification.

Contact the bank to find out if there are other ways to open an account with them. Financial institutions that operate only online may require that you have an existing account with another financial institution before opening an account for you.

Information you must receive when you open a bank account

When you open an account at a bank, it must give you information about your account. For example, information about fees, increases in charges and new charges. This applies even if you open another account at that same bank.

When your bank must tell you about charge increases

When a bank increases a fee or introduces a new charge, it must give you written information about it.

Learn more about your rights when opening a bank account.

If you were not made aware of the changes to fees or the new charges before they came into effect, you can make a complaint.

Electronic alerts from your bank

Your bank must send you an electronic alert when the balance of your chequing or savings account falls below a certain amount.

These alerts may help you manage your day-to-day finances and avoid fees.

Learn more about these electronic alerts.

Opening a bank account if you’re not a Canadian citizen

You may be able to open a bank account with the proper identification in Canada even if:

You may need to go to the bank in person to open a bank account. Contact the financial institution for more information.

Identification you need to open a bank account

To open a bank account, the bank must be able to confirm your identity through proper identification.

There are two ways that allow you to meet the identification (ID) requirements. You must provide original ID, not photocopies.

(1) Provide two documents from a reliable source:

The two documents of identification must be from the following list:

(2) Provide any document from a reliable source that indicates your name and date of birth. This way works only if your identity is also confirmed by:

What to consider before opening a bank account

Before opening a bank account, you may want to consider the following:

Before you sign up for an account, make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the account, including fees. Ask questions about anything that you don’t understand. Keep a copy of your account agreement for your records.

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

Transferring an account from one bank to another

You may decide to transfer your bank account from one financial institution to another if it offers a product that better suits your needs. It’s also a good idea to review your banking package from time to time.

Most financial institutions have processes to help you manage the transfer. This may include arranging for your old financial institution to transfer all your pre-authorized debits to your new account.

Keep your old account open during the transfer. Cut up old debit cards and cheques to prevent fraud.

Check your statements from both financial institutions until you’re sure that:

When a bank refuses to open an account for you

A bank doesn’t have to open a bank account for you if:

If a bank refuses to open a bank account for you, it must notify you with a written statement.

They must also disclose to you:

If a bank won’t open an account for you and you feel you have been treated unfairly, you can file a complaint.

Find out how to file a complaint with a financial institution.

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