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Smiling woman with a ceramic piggy bank with funds for her Canadian bank account

Opening a bank account before you arrive in Canada is a smart way to safely travel while you travel to Canada. Also, when you land in Canada, immigration officials will request you to show proof of funds. When you open a bank account before you arrive, you can easily prove that you have available funds.

Canadian banks are among the most solid, secure financial institutions in the world. Also, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) provides insurance to protect eligible deposits made to CDIC-member banks. And knowing that their money is protected is reassuring to many Canadians!

How to Choose a Bank in Canada

It’s necessary to open a bank account in Canada. Most Canadians rely on their bank to:

  • Receive paycheques
  • Pay bills
  • Save money and earn interest.

To select a bank, you can visit the bank’s website to compare services and fees. While many banks have national branches and automatic banking machines (ABM) networks, it’s best to select a bank that has branches in the community where you will live.

Also, when you open a bank account you will receive a statement with your new mailing address. You can use your statement as identification when you apply for:

  • Government services
  • A provincial health card, or
  • A driver’s license.


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Open a Bank Account with the Right Features

Banks offer a wide range of accounts to choose from, and that can be overwhelming. But keep in mind that most newcomers will require a chequing account to deposit funds, write cheques, and pay bills. You will also need a debit card to deposit and withdraw funds from an ABM or branch. You may also want a higher-interest savings account and credit card.

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Banking and Finance in Canada: Your First Steps

Banks offer banking service packages at low-cost monthly fees. For example, The Scotiabank StartRight Program for Newcomers*¹ offers a number of low-cost options to meet your banking needs.  To help you make your important banking decisions, Scotiabank can explain your options in the language that you prefer and provide personal support at the bank branch. 

Feel free to ask for an explanation if there is anything you don’t understand. The role of the bank employee is to provide quality customer service and any questions you may have. So you don’t need to worry about asking questions or taking up too much of their time.

Most importantly, get answers to your questions and only sign a contract when you’re confident that you understand all of the terms correctly.

Documents You Need to Open a Bank Account

To open a bank account in Canada, you will require the following documents: 

  • Permanent Resident Card or Confirmation of Permanent Residence
  • One piece of government identification such as your passport or driver’s license

If you’re an international student, you will require a letter of acceptance from a Canadian educational institution and a study permit. 

If you are a foreign worker, you will require a current valid passport and a valid work permit.

To open a bank account, you need to go to a local branch in person and have two original pieces of identification. You will have an interview with a bank employee who will:

  • Discuss different banking options
  • Suggest the right bank account based on your needs
  • Explain your rights and responsibilities, and
  • Help you complete the paperwork.

With Scotiabank StartRight Program for Newcomers*1, you’ll be ready to manage your financial needs and achieve financial success in Canada.

*¹ – The Scotiabank StartRight Program, created for Canadian Permanent residents from 0-3 years in Canada, International Students, and Foreign Workers.