IC72-22R10 Registered Retirement Savings Plans

This version is only available electronically.

This circular cancels and replaces information circular 72-22R9 dated June 17, 1996.

1. This circular explains certain provisions of the Income Tax Act that apply to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and outlines the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) registration requirements for issuers of RRSPs. The content of this circular was written for the issuer and the use of any second person pronoun (such as you) in this document refers to the issuer.

Annuitants, contributors, and beneficiaries of RRSPs should consult RRSPs and related plans for more information. You can find more information in the publications listed in Part VI.


This circular reflects the provisions of the law in force when we published the circular. You should, therefore, take into account any relevant changes to those provisions or court decisions after we publish this circular.


2. The following sections of the Income Tax Act relate to RRSPs:

This circular does not explain:

You can find details on these and other topics in the publications listed in Part VI.

Personal information

3. Information that we obtain for taxation purposes is strictly confidential. Only the taxpayer, or a person the taxpayer or the law authorizes, has access to this information. The Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act reinforce this protection.

Part I – What is an RRSP

4. Subsection 146(1) of the Act defines an RRSP as a retirement savings plan (RSP) that the Minister of National Revenue has accepted for registration because it complies with section 146 of the Act.

An RSP is a contract or arrangement between an annuitant and an issuer where the annuitant or the annuitant’s spouse or common-law partner makes payments to the issuer in order for the issuer to provide a retirement income commencing at maturity for the annuitant. If the annuitant dies after the plan matures, the annuitant’s spouse or common‑law partner may become the annuitant.


5. An annuitant is the individual the RSP provides the retirement income for. It is the only term the Act recognizes for that individual. If it is necessary to use another term to describe the annuitant, such as owner, plan holder, policyholder or applicant, you must define this term according to the definition “annuitant” in subsection 146(1) of the Act. You must then use the same term throughout your documents.


6. An RRSP issuer can be:

Part II – Registration

Retirement savings plan specimen

7. The CRA’s Registered Plans Directorate (Directorate) must approve an RSP specimen before you can register and sell any RSPs under that specimen. An RSP specimen is a true copy of all the documents that will be given to the client who wants to open an RRSP. You must identify the type of specimen you are submitting (individual, group general, group specific, or combined individual/group plan) and whether the specimen is self‑directed. You must send to the Directorate all your documents (English and French) for approval, before you print and market them. As well, we may ask you to send us the commercial copy of the specimen to make sure it follows industry standards.

8. The following documents make up an RSP specimen:

9. For an insurer’s specimen, the endorsement must include all the necessary provisions of subsection 146(2) of the Income Tax Act the insurer did not include in the policy. As well, it must include an explicit statement saying that the endorsement overrides all provisions of the policy which are inconsistent with subsection 146(2). If the RSP provisions are in the policy, an endorsement is not required. For a depositary’s specimen, the RSP terms and conditions must provide that contributions will be kept on deposit (that is, they cannot be self-directed). 

10. When we approve the specimen, we give it an identification number. This is not a registration number since the specimen itself is not registered. Only the actual RSPs you enter into with each annuitant are registered. However, you must use the identification number when you refer to the specimen or an RRSP based on that specimen. You use the annuitant’s social insurance number (SIN) and contract number (that is, the account, certificate, or other identifying number) when referring to a particular RRSP.

Statutory conditions

11.     The specimen’s text must comply with subsection 146(2) of the Act by including the following provisions:


The terms of the RSP can be more restrictive than the terms required by the Act as long as those restrictions are clearly stated in the plan’s text. For example, you can include additional restrictions on the maturity date, withdrawals before maturity, or commutation.

Application form

12. The application form must include a space for:

13. On the application form, you must include a clause saying that the annuitant requests the issuer to apply for registration of the plan as an RRSP under section 146 of the Act. The annuitant’s signature confirms this request. If an organization (see Group RSPs) sponsors the specimen, you must include a clause saying that the annuitant authorizes the sponsor to act as the annuitant’s agent and for what purpose.

14. You cannot use the word registered or the term RRSP to refer to the name of the plan on the application form or other specimen documents, since the specimen is not registered. Only individual contracts or arrangements based on an approved specimen can be registered. If a plan permits spousal or common-law partner contributions, the specimen must give a definition of spouse or common-law partner.

RSP list for registration

15. To register new RSPs, send your list to the Directorate and include all of these items:

16. You must send all RSP lists to the Directorate through Internet file transfer, and they must comply with our current approved eXtensible Markup Language (XML) schema. Before submitting your listings, ensure that the format meets the requirements on the XML format web page.

17. You can submit lists on a quarterly or other basis, but not later than 60 days after the end of the calendar year you are requesting the registration for. By submitting through Internet file transfer, you affirm that:

As well, you must tell us in the XML schema how many RSPs are listed for each specimen and the identification number assigned to the specimen.

18. You can register each RSP only once; therefore, the list should contain only RSPs that you have not registered before. If you have to correct the original data, you must submit a new listing containing only the necessary corrections. You cannot list an RSP for registration until you have received a contribution because the RSP does not exist until you receive the payment.


Information related to particular plans is sensitive information and must be handled securely.

Part III – RRSP administration

19. A trust governed at any time in the year by an RRSP has to file an income tax return.

Agency agreement

20. You may have an agreement with an agent, such as an investment broker, that allows them to provide certain administrative or investment functions. It is not necessary to submit the agency agreement with the specimen. If you appoint an agent as custodian of the securities and register the securities in the agent’s name, then you need to clearly disclose the agency agreement, the identity of the trustee, and the contract or identification number of the RRSP that governs the trust in the security registration form.

21. The RSP specimen must state that you, the issuer, have the ultimate responsibility for administering each RRSP under that specimen. The agent may not make changes to the approved specimen. You must deal directly with the CRA concerning all RSP matters and reporting requirements unless we have written authorization to deal with another person.

Group RSPs

22. An association, employer, or other organization (throughout the rest of this document, we will use “organization” to mean all three) can sponsor a group RSP. A group RSP is essentially a collection of individual RRSPs for the employees or members of an organization. Individuals belonging to that organization or their spouses or common-law partners are eligible to participate. The organization can act as an agent for the annuitant for certain purposes, such as receiving contributions to the RRSP through payroll deductions. If this is the case, the text of the RSP contract or arrangement and its application form must clearly show that the annuitant has authorized the organization to act as their agent and for what purpose. Under a trusteed group RSP, each RRSP must have a separate trust.

23. When the organization acts as an agent for the annuitant, the text of the RSP contract or arrangement must state that the ultimate responsibility for administering each plan remains with the issuer. The organization may not make changes to the approved specimen. As the issuer, you must deal directly with the CRA about all RSP matters and reporting requirements unless we have written authorization to deal with another person.

Amending the RSP specimen

24. You must send all amendments or revisions to an approved specimen to the Registered Plans Directorate for approval before you can put the amendments into effect. When you amend an RSP specimen, all RRSPs based on that specimen will be amended as well. You must inform all the annuitants of this amendment. If you amend the specimen to allow the transfer of locked-in funds, you must send a copy of the locking-in addendum or supplementary agreement to the Directorate.

25. You do not require our approval for the following changes before you print or market the application form. You must send any change not listed here to us for our approval.

Terminating the RSP specimen

26. You must inform the Directorate when RSPs under a specimen will no longer be entered into. In addition, you must notify us when there are no longer any outstanding RRSPs under that specimen. This will allow us to update our records and close the file.

Locking-in provisions

27. A locked-in RRSP meets both the Income Tax Act’s requirements for RRSPs and the locking-in requirements under federal or provincial pension standards legislation. It is sometimes referred to as a locked-in retirement account (LIRA). The federal Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 or the equivalent provincial law allows the transfer of property in a locked-in registered pension plan (RPP) to a locked-in RRSP. Refer to the relevant federal or provincial authorities for more information about locking-in legislation.

28. If a locking-in addendum or supplementary agreement is used together with an existing specimen, you must send a copy of the addendum or agreement to the Directorate. As well, you must keep separate accounts for the locked-in and non-locked-in portions. The Directorate does not review, approve, or assign a designation to locking-in addenda.

Online, electronic, or telephone applications

29. You have various options for getting information from potential annuitants. When you gather client information using an online, electronic, or telephone (throughout the rest of this document, we will use “paperless” to mean all three) application process, you must meet all of the following requirements:

RRSP contribution receipt return, contribution receipts, and T4RSP information return

30. You must electronically file an RRSP contribution receipt return to the CRA for RRSP contributions the annuitant or the annuitant’s spouse or common-law partner made under the plan in a contribution year. The return consists of an RRSP contribution information return slip and, if you prepared more than one RRSP contribution information return slip, a contribution receipt summary. For more information, see RRSP contribution receipt return

31. You must also give a contribution receipt to the RRSP contributor. As well as giving instructions to include the receipt with the contributor’s income tax and benefit return, the receipt should include the following information:


Please note that the signature (or facsimile signature) of an authorized official of the issuer is no longer required.

32. For information on filing the T4RSP information return, refer to our guide T4079, Filing the T4RSP and T4RIF information returns.

Part IV – Transfers

33. The following sections describe two methods for transferring contracts and arrangements between RSP specimens.

Transfer by specimen amendment

34. You can transfer RRSPs by specimen amendment only in these two situations:

  1. You transfer all RRSPs under a specimen to another specimen
  2. You transfer a portion of the RRSPs (identifiable as a group) under a specimen to another specimen. This situation is referred to as a specimen split. For example, you transfer all RRSPs for one particular employer in a group general specimen to another issuer’s specimen while you keep the remaining employers’ RRSPs under the original specimen

In these two situations, the annuitants do not have to:

As well, the successor issuer does not have to submit the contracts or arrangements for registration.

35. The transfer of RRSPs can occur between specimens of the same issuer or between specimens of different issuers. The terms of the specimen must permit the transfer and, if it applies, a change of issuer. You can transfer the RRSPs to an existing specimen or to a new specimen the Directorate reviewed and accepted. If the transfer of RRSPs is between specimens of different issuers, the original issuer must be willing to relinquish its authority over the RRSPs being transferred out of its specimen and the new issuer must take over the RRSPs being transferred into its specimen.

36. If you are an issuer opening a new specimen to receive the transferred RRSPs, you must first submit the proposed specimen to the Directorate for review and approval. You may have to amend the terms of the original specimen to permit the transfer and, if it applies, the change of issuer. The transfer can take place only after we accept the new specimen and any amendments the original specimen may require.

37. To process the transfer of RRSPs from one specimen to another specimen, we need the following information:

Send the required information to the Directorate within 60 days of the effective date of the transfer so we can update our records.

38. The issuer(s) must keep the following documents or information on their files:

39. If you transfer all RRSPs under one specimen to another specimen, we will need confirmation from you that, after you complete the transfers, no existing RRSPs remain under the original specimen and you are no longer marketing that specimen. This will allow us to close the specimen.

Individual transfer

40. An individual transfer occurs when you transfer one or more RRSPs from one specimen to another and you cannot complete the transfer by specimen amendment. The transfer can occur between two of your specimens or between specimens of different issuers. Each annuitant must enter into a new RRSP and complete a new annuitant application form, whether the new RRSP is with you or a different issuer. You are not required to inform the CRA of the transfer. The successor issuer must submit the new contracts or arrangements for registration.

Part V – Annuities

Retirement income

41. Generally, the Act defines retirement income as:

The annuity retains its character as an RRSP. The guaranteed term for a life annuity and the term for a term annuity cannot be more than 90 years minus:

Purchasing an annuity

42. Under paragraph 60(l) of the Act, an RRSP annuitant can request a transfer of RRSP property to a licensed annuities provider to purchase an annuity for the annuitant. They can use Form T2030, Direct Transfer Under Subparagraph 60(l)(v), to do this. As the RRSP issuer, you must report the transferred payment on a T4RSP slip. The issuer of the annuity should issue a receipt to the annuitant showing the date and amount of the payment used to purchase the annuity. The annuitant must include the amount on the T4RSP slip in income and can claim the amount on the receipt as an offsetting deduction.

43. The qualification conditions for an annuity that an RRSP annuitant purchases under paragraph 60(l) are similar to those that apply to an RRSP annuity providing a retirement income. The main difference is that the 60(l) annuity must begin making payments no later than one year after it is purchased instead of when an RRSP matures.

44. A trust governed by an RRSP or another authorized entity can acquire an annuity contract (as described by the definition "retirement income" in subsection 146(1) of the Act) before the RRSP matures and defer making payments until after the plan's maturity date. We consider the deferred life annuity contract to be an investment of the RRSP funds and not a way of providing an immediate retirement income. The trust or other entity must own the annuity contract.

Advanced life deferred annuity

45. An RRSP annuitant can request a transfer of RRSP property to a licensed annuities provider to purchase an advanced life deferred annuity (ALDA) for the annuitant. An ALDA is a life annuity that allows annuity payments to start before the end of the year the annuitant turns 85 years of age. An ALDA is payable for as long as the annuitant lives. If it is a joint-lives annuity, an ALDA is payable for as long as the annuitant or their spouse or common-law partner lives. For more information, see How to purchase an advanced life deferred annuity (ALDA).

Part VI – General information

Forms and publications

46. The following forms and publications give information about RRSPs and related subject matter. Canada Revenue Agency forms and publications are available online to view, download, or order at canada.ca/cra-forms.

T4040, RRSPs and Other Registered Plans for Retirement

T4079, Filing the T4RSP and T4RIF information returns

RC4177, Death of an RRSP Annuitant

IC78-14R4, Guidelines for trust companies and other persons responsible for filing T3GR, T3D, T3P, T3S, T3RI, and T3F returns

S3-F10-C1, Qualified Investments – RRSPs, RESPs, RRIFs, RDSPs and TFSAs

S3-F10-C2, Prohibited Investments – RRSPs, RESPs, RRIFs, RDSPs and TFSAs

S3-F10-C3, Advantages – RRSPs, RESPs, RRIFs, RDSPs and TFSAs

T1-OVP, Individual Tax Return for RRSP, PRPP and SPP Excess Contributions

T1-OVP-ALDA, Individual Tax Return for Excess Transfers to Purchase an ALDA

T3F, Investments Prescribed to be Qualified Information Return

T3GR, Group Income Tax and Information Return for RRSP, RRIF, RESP, or RDSP Trusts

T2030, Direct Transfer Under Subparagraph 60(l)(v)

T2033, Direct Transfer Under Subsection 146.3(14.1), 147.5(21) or 146(21), or Paragraph 146(16)(a) or 146.3(2)(e)

T2151, Direct Transfer of a Single Amount Under Subsection 147(19) or Section 147.3

T2157, Direct Transfer from a Registered Plan to Purchase an ALDA

IT124R6, Archived - Contributions to Registered Retirement Savings Plan

IT307R4, Archived - Spousal or Common-law Partner Registered Retirement Savings Plans 

IT500R, Archived - Registered Retirement Savings Plans – Death of an Annuitant

IT528, Archived - Transfers of Funds Between Registered Plans

More information and help

47. For more information about RRSPs, you can contact the Registered Plans Directorate by telephone, fax, mail or courier, email or go to Savings and pension plan administration.


In Canada and the United States: 1-800-267-3100

If you are calling outside Canada and the United States, call us collect at 613-221-3105. The Directorate accepts collect calls.

Our telephone agents are available Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 8 am to 5 pm (Eastern Time). Any calls we receive after these hours will go to a voicemail system. We will return calls the next business day.

Fax (secure):


Mail or courier:

Registered Plans Directorate 
Canada Revenue Agency
2215 Gladwin Cres
Ottawa ON  K1B 4K9


RPD.LPRA2@cra-arc.gc.ca (The Directorate does not accept emails containing personal or plan-related information)

List of abbreviations and acronyms

48. The list below contains the abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms we use in this document.

ALDA - advanced life deferred annuity

CRA - Canada Revenue Agency

Directorate - Registered Plans Directorate

IFT - Internet file transfer

LIRA  - locked-in retirement account

RIF - retirement income fund

RPP - registered pension plan

RRIF - registered retirement income fund

RRSP - registered retirement savings plan

RSP - retirement savings plan

SIN - social insurance number

XML - eXtensible Markup Language

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