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Banking in Canada

While it can be fun to think about our dreams for the future, especially when moving to a new country, it’s also wise to keep in mind the practical, day-to-day considerations about money. This is particularly important for newcomers to Canada who face questions such as, “How can I protect my money?” and “Where and how can I access my funds easily?”

Whether you are accustomed to banking in your home country, or you have never used a bank before, this article helps you understand the Canadian banking system and ways to manage your money.

Before you come to Canada

We can help newcomers to open a Canadian bank account and apply for a credit card even before landing in Canada. As Canadian immigration authorities require proof of funds at the time of landing, newcomers can send money and access the funds on arrival. You may open a Canadian bank account by contacting the bank in your home country. Then, visit the nearest branch of that bank when you land in Canada to complete the process.

To choose among banks, visit their websites to compare services and fees. While many banks have national branch and automatic banking machine (ABM) networks, you should select a bank with branches in the community where you will live.

Establishing a bank account is invaluable, since most Canadians rely on their banking system to receive their paycheques and pay bills. Also, when you receive a statement from your Canadian bank account with your new mailing address, it can be used to help you apply for government services, your provincial health card or driver’s license.

Choosing the right account and features

The range of accounts can be overwhelming, but keep in mind that most newcomers will require at least a chequing account, to deposit funds, write cheques and pay bills. You will also get a debit card to deposit and withdraw funds from an ABM or branch. A higher-interest savings account and credit card are also often useful.

Banks may offer banking service packages at low-cost monthly fees. For example, The Scotiabank StartRight Program for Newcomers offers a number of banking options, including a chequing account with free day-to-day bank account for one year. To help you decide, multilingual branch and customer contact centre employees are glad to explain your options.

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How to open your first account

A Canadian bank can provide the details, but in general a landed immigrant requires a current valid passport and confirmation of immigration status to Canada. In addition to their valid passport, international students also require a letter of acceptance from a Canadian educational institution and a study permit. In the case of foreign workers, a current valid passport and a valid work permit will get them started banking in Canada.

By taking time to consider banking matters now, you’ll be ready to manage your financial needs and begin building your dreams in Canada.

Some helpful links:

  • Learn about the Scotiabank StartRight Program for Newcomers, and details on international account opening options
  • Review the typical banking terms glossary