Opening an account: rights and responsibilities

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Your rights

Under Canadian law—subject to certain conditions—you have the right to open a personal bank account at a bank.

You must provide the bank with acceptable forms of identification in order to open a personal bank account. Other financial institutions, such as credit unions and caisses populaires, are generally regulated provincially and may have different requirements. Some credit unions are federally regulated. Federal consumer protection laws apply when dealing with a federal credit union.

Learn more about what types of identification are acceptable and when a bank or federal credit union can refuse to open a bank account for you.  

When you open an account at a federally regulated financial institution (FRFI), the institution must provide you in writing, or electronically if you agree to receive information in this format, with certain information about your account and how it will work. This includes:

  • a copy of the account agreement either before you open the account or at the time of opening an account in person
  • If you open an account by telephone, you must receive a copy of the account agreement within seven business days after the account is opened and you also have the right to close the account, without charge, within 14 days of opening it by telephone
  • information about all charges applicable to the account
  • information about how you will be notified of any increase in those charges and of any new charges applicable to the account
  • information on the financial institution’s complaint-handling procedures

Under a voluntary commitment, Canada’s banks have also agreed to make information available to clients opening new personal bank accounts or converting an account that is held in one name to an account that is held jointly by more than one person.

For more information, see Joint bank accounts: rights and responsibilities​.

What you should do if you feel your rights are not being respected

If you feel that a FRFI is not respecting your rights, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.  

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