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Open a Bank account as a newcomer in Canada

As a newcomer to Canada, having access to your savings is not only essential but also critical.  Starting your life in a new country is intertwined with your financial journey making it important to  understand the basics of Banking. Let’s take a look at how to open a bank account in Canada. The Canadian Financial Ecosystem is made up of banks, credit unions, trusts, and other  financial and insurance companies and is considered to be one of the most sound and safe in  the world.  

The five largest banks in Canada are often referred to as the “big five” in banking. They are: 

In addition to these banks, there are digital-only banks, such as Tangerine (a subsidiary of Scotiabank) and Simplii Financial (a subsidiary of CIBC).

The big five banks have newcomer banking packages that specifically cater to permanent residents and international students and are thus better positioned to assist you in your unique  situation.  

Essentially, there are two types of bank accounts in Canada:

  • Chequing account: An essential basic account for daily transactions and purchases.
  • Savings account: A high-interest account to save money over a longer-term.

You can start the process to open a bank account while you’re still in pre-arrival. Book an appointment to speak with an RBC Advisor, and they will guide you with detailed steps.

For opening a bank account as a newcomer, you will require the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) and/or Social Insurance Number (SIN)

International students will also need:

  • Student permit (IMM 1442) or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)
  • Proof of enrollment (optional, good-to-have)

Most financial institutions also offer other services such as investments, mortgages, safety deposit boxes and general financial planning. You can talk to a financial advisor about your specific goals and needs so that they can recommend relevant products for your financial wellbeing. Having access to the right resources and information will ensure a smooth transition into kickstarting your life in Canada.

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