How to open a TFSA
You can have more than one TFSA at any given time, but the total amount you contribute to all your TFSAs cannot be more than your available TFSA contribution room for that year.
To open a TFSA, you must do both of the following:
- Contact your financial institution, credit union, or insurance company (issuer).
- Provide the issuer with your SIN and date of birth so the issuer can register your qualifying arrangement as a TFSA. Your issuer could ask for supporting documents.
If you do not provide this information or provide incorrect information to your issuer, the registration of your TFSA can be denied. If your TFSA is not registered, any income that is earned will have to be reported on your income tax and benefit return.
There are three types of TFSAs that can be offered:
- a deposit
- an annuity contract
- an arrangement in trust
Banks, insurance companies, credit unions and trust companies can all issue TFSAs.
For more information about a certain type of TFSA, contact a TFSA issuer.
You can set up a self-directed TFSA if you prefer to build and manage your own investment portfolio by buying and selling different types of investments. For more information, contact a TFSA issuer.
Any individual that is a resident of Canada who has a valid SIN and who is 18 years of age or older is eligible to open a TFSA.
Any individual that is a non‑resident of Canada who has a valid SIN and who is 18 years of age or older is also eligible to open a TFSA. However, any contributions made while a non‑resident will be subject to a 1% tax for each month the contribution stays in the account. For more information, see Non-residents of Canada.
You cannot open a TFSA or contribute to one until you turn 18. However, when you turn 18, you will be able to contribute up to the full TFSA dollar limit for that year.
Julie turns 18 on May 13, 2023. She will not be able to open and contribute to a TFSA until that date. However, from May 13, 2023, she can open a TFSA and contribute up to the full 2023 TFSA dollar limit.
In certain provinces and territories, the legal age at which an individual can enter into a contract (which includes opening a TFSA) is 19. In this case, when the individual turns 19 and is able to enter into a contract in that jurisdiction, the TSFA contribution room for the year an individual turns 18 is carried over to the following year.
You could be considered a non-resident for tax purposes if you meet any of the following conditions:
- you normally, customarily, or routinely live in another country and are not considered a resident of Canada
- you do not have residential ties in Canada; and either one of the following situations applies:
- you live outside Canada throughout the tax year
- you stay in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year
Even if you no longer live in Canada, you could have residential ties in Canada that are enough for you to be considered a factual or deemed resident of Canada. In these cases, the regular rules for opening a TFSA still apply.
Residential ties include:
- a home in Canada
- a spouse or common-law partner or dependants in Canada
- personal property in Canada, such as a car or furniture
- social ties in Canada
Other ties that can be relevant include:
- Canadian driver's licence
- Canadian bank accounts or credit cards
- hospitalization and medical insurance coverage from a province or territory of Canada
For more information on residential ties, see Income Tax Folio S5-F1-C1, Determining an Individual’s Residence Status or call the International Enquiries for Individuals and Trusts at one of the following numbers:
1-800-959-8281 (from anywhere in Canada and the United States)
613-940-8495 (from outside Canada and the United States)
We accept collect calls by automated response. You may hear a beep and experience a normal connection delay.
If you become a non-resident of Canada, or are considered to be a non-resident for income tax purposes:
- you will be allowed to keep your TFSA and you will not be taxed in Canada on any earnings in the account or on withdrawals from it
- no TFSA contribution room will accrue for any year throughout which you are a non-resident of Canada
- any withdrawals made during the period that you were a non-resident will be added back to your TFSA contribution room in the following year, but will only be available if you re-establish your Canadian residency status for tax purposes
You can contribute to a TFSA up to the date that you become a non-resident of Canada. The annual TFSA dollar limit is not prorated in the year of emigration or immigration.
If you make a contribution, except for a qualifying transfer or an exempt contribution, while you are a non-resident, you will be subject to a 1% tax for each month the contribution stays in the account. You can also be liable for other taxes. For more information, see Tax payable on non-resident contributions.
Forms and publications
- Guide RC4466, Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Guide for Individuals
- Form RC240 Designation of an Exempt Contribution - Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Form RC243 Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) Return
- Form RC243-SCH-A Schedule A - Excess TFSA Amounts
- Form RC243-SCH-B Schedule B - Non-Resident Contributions to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Form RC343 Worksheet - TFSA contribution room
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