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How To Open a Canadian Bank Account Online

5 min read

Open a Canadian Bank Account Online

Written By

Courtney Johnston
Courtney Johnston

Opening a bank account is one of the most important steps you can take as an adult. Bank accounts offer better financial security, ease of access, and often come with robust features like early access to your paycheck, direct deposit, interest earnings, or online bill pay.

With more transactions taking place online, navigating your money without a bank account can feel almost impossible.

In Canada, you can open a bank account in a few simple steps, whether you’re a citizen or non-resident with a temporary visa.

How to open a bank account in Canada

There are a few different ways you can open a bank account, but the two most common methods are to apply online or in-person. Some banks in Canada with physical branches allow you to also open a bank account online, so you can pick the method that best fits with your schedule and preference. You can also apply by telephone in some cases.

How to open a bank account online in Canada

To open a bank account online, you’ll start by navigating to the bank’s website. You may also be able to open an account by mobile app, depending on the bank. From there, select the type of account you wish to open and begin filing an application for the bank account. You’ll need to fill out some personal information, including your name, address, and date of birth. You’ll also need to provide identification details, like a Canadian driver's license number. You may be asked to provide simple financial information as well, depending on the account.

Once your application is submitted, your account may be opened right away. If you do, you can begin funding your account by transferring money from another bank account, or you can wait until your debit card arrives in the mail to fund your account. Each bank has its own deposit requirements, so you should follow the instructions from the web portal on what to do next.

Opening a bank account online is generally the fastest way to open an account. Online account opening typically only takes a few minutes. You can also contact a customer service representative by phone or online with any questions you may have.

How to open a bank account in person in Canada

If you’d rather visit a nearby bank or credit union, you can open a bank account in person with the help of a customer service representative. Most big banks and local financial institutions offer this service.

The process will work similarly to filing online, except you’ll provide your information and physical copies of your identification to the bank teller when opening your account. You should be prepared to fund the account via Canadian dollars or cheque at the time of account opening if the bank requires an initial deposit.

Some banks may be able to provide you with your debit card and cheque the same day when you open a bank account in person. But you may also have to wait for them to arrive in the mail.

How to open a bank account by phone in Canada

Lastly, you may choose to open a new bank account over the phone. In this case, the bank representative will ask you questions to confirm your identity and the type of account you’d like to open.

Not all banks offer this option, but it can be helpful if you’re visually impaired or need guidance opening an account at a bank that does not have a physical location near you.

What do you need to open a bank account in Canada?

In Canada, you can open a bank account if you’re a Canadian citizen or non-resident (in most cases). You can even open a bank account if you don’t currently have a job, do not have funds to put into the account, or have filed for bankruptcy in the past.

Your credit history also will not prevent you from opening a bank account in Canada. However, a less-than-ideal credit history could prevent your chances of getting approved for specific bank features, like overdraft protection.

International students with temporary school or work visas can also open a bank account in Canada. Learn more about how you can open a bank account as an international student in Canada.

Required documents you need to open a new bank account

When you open a bank account in Canada, you’ll need to provide two forms of primary identification. According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, acceptable identify documents include:

  • Canadian driver’s license (must not be expired)

  • Canadian passport (must not be expired)

  • Canadian birth certificate

  • Old Age Security (OAS) card

  • Permanent Resident Card

  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship (or Naturalization)

  • Indian status card

If you only have one of the above forms of identification, you can also provide one of the below secondary forms to open a bank account. They include:

  • Existing Canadian bank card with your name on it (some banks may accept Canadian bank statements, too)

  • A copy of your Canadian credit card statement

  • Record of employment in Canada

  • Foreign passport (must not be expired)

Depending on the type of account, you may also be asked to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is required for any interest-earning account and some retirement or investment account in Canada.

Other requirements for opening a Canadian bank account

In addition to meeting the above criteria and verifying your identification, you may also have to meet certain age requirements to open an account in Canada. If you’re under eighteen and considered a minor, you may be able to open certain youth accounts on your own.

However, many banks will require you to open them with a co-applicant, such as your parent or a guardian who is eighteen or older.

Credit approval is generally not required when opening a bank account in Canada. However, if you’re applying for a feature like overdraft protection, the bank may choose to run a check on your credit report before approving you. But you can open a bank account with bad credit in Canada. Find out more about how to build your credit with Koho or get a copy of your free credit score.

What a bank must disclose when you open a bank account

In Canada, there are certain legal requirements banks must meet when you open an account with them. A bank and financial institution are required to provide you with information about your new bank account, including the account’s monthly fee, additional recurring fees, and any other charges.

What to consider before opening a new bank account in Canada

If you’re looking to open a bank account, you’ll want to do your research before applying for a new account. You should consider how you plan to use the account and bank features you’re looking for. You should explore the different types of accounts available before opening a new bank account.

Types of bank accounts in Canada

1. Chequing account

A chequing account serves as the central hub for your money. It receives incoming deposits from your paychecks and other income sources and is usually the spot where you’ll pay your bills, mortgage, rent or other expenses. A chequing account can often be linked to other bank accounts, like a savings account, to make transferring money to other accounts easier.

In Canada, chequing accounts often come with a debit card and a chequebook — though not all accounts offer both. Depending on the bank, your chequing account might come with the ability to earn interest, but it will likely be a low amount.

You can find free chequing accounts in Canada, but it’s not uncommon for banks to charge a monthly fee for this type of deposit account. You may also be charged fees for going below a bank’s balance requirement or exceeding a certain number of transactions within a month.

2. Traditional savings account

Storing your savings separately from your everyday checking account can make it easier to save for specific goals and resist the temptation to spend this money. Some chequing accounts come automatically with access to savings, so you can conveniently move funds from one account to another.

There are many different types of savings accounts, but the primary goal behind this account is the ability to keep funds stored so you can draw on them when needed. Savings accounts don’t usually come with debit card access, but some offer the ability to earn interest. Expect a traditional savings account at a big bank to offer relatively low interest rates on savings accounts.

Like a chequing account, savings accounts can often come with monthly fees and other charges to look out for.

3. High-yield savings account

A high-yield savings account is a type of savings account that lets you earn higher than average interest on your money. Interest rates on high-yield savings accounts are often at least ten times higher than traditional savings accounts.

Right now, in Canada, you can earn rates around 5% on your savings with a high-yield savings account. You’ll find some of the best rates at online banks or credit unions, though some big banks offer their own versions of high-yield savings accounts.

Like regular savings accounts, you likely won’t receive debit card access with this type of deposit account. And you may also be charged a monthly fee for maintaining a high-yield savings account.

4. Joint bank accounts

An account with more than one owner is called a joint banking account. In Canada, two (or more) people can open a shared bank account together by both applying for access to the account. A joint bank account provides equal access to both parties. You can open joint chequing or savings accounts.

A joint account can come in handy if you’re living with a partner or a family member long-term. It’s also possible to open a joint bank account with a child so that both the parent and the child can access the account.

All members of a joint bank account usually receive a separate debit card and chequebook. You can typically open different types of joint accounts, such as a joint chequing account, joint savings account, or both. A joint bank account can come with a monthly fee or additional account fees.

Find out more about how to open a high interest joint bank account in Canada.

5. Hybrid bank account

Some banks offer combination bank accounts that offer an all-in-one solution for chequing and savings. You might be able to earn interest on this type of account and receive debit card or chequebook access.

KOHO, for instance, offers a combined spending and savings account that offers up to 5% back on select purchases. It comes with a virtual credit card.

A hybrid bank account may be worth considering if you want to earn interest on your bank account balance but don’t want to keep your money in separate accounts. This type of deposit account can also come with an annual fee or additional account fees.

6. Business bank account

If you’re a freelancer or own your own business, you may want to open a business bank account. A business bank account allows you to keep your personal finances separate from your business finances. A business bank account in Canada is rarely free, so expect to pay fees to maintain this type of account.

A business account can be individual or joint if you have more than one business owner. If you open a business chequing account, all business owners may have access with separate debit cards or chequebooks.

7. Other types of bank accounts

There are other types of bank accounts available, such as investment accounts like a registered savings account or tax-free savings accounts. These accounts are generally better for storing money to help achieve long-term financial goals. You can also open a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) with a bank if you want to lock your money away for a set period of time in exchange for a fixed interest rate on your savings.

How to choose the right bank in Canada

When opening a new bank account, it’s important to compare multiple options across multiple financial institutions. Start by narrowing down the types of accounts that will work best for you, and then explore the pros and cons of each bank.

Some factors to consider include:

  • Account fees. Determine how much a bank account will cost and compare that to other comparable banks. Be sure to look beyond monthly fees. There are other hidden fees, such as transaction fees and overdraft fees, that you’ll want to weigh.

  • Interest. If you’re looking to grow your savings, be sure to look for a bank account that will protect your money and offer a competitive annual percentage yield on your balance. Right now, you can find APYs upwards of 5% in Canada, so if the bank you’re researching isn’t offering close to this rate, you might want to look elsewhere.

  • Accessibility. If in person service is important to you, look for a local bank or credit union that’s nearby your home or work. But if you’re not as interested in physical branch access, make sure you know how to access and deposit money with online accounts. Some banks let you use ATMs to deposit and withdraw cash, but not every bank does.

  • Minimum balance requirements. Some banks have a minimum amount you must maintain in your account daily in order to earn interest or avoid bank fees. Some may require direct deposits in a certain amount to fulfill this requirement. Make sure you know the bank’s minimum balance requirement and can easily meet it before opening the account.

  • Online savings tools. Even if you’re opening an account with a traditional bank, it likely offers online access to your account. Be sure to compare the bank's online features, including savings tools that might be important to help you manage your money. For, example, some banks offer savings buckets to help you group you money for different savings goals.

  • Insurance. You want to ensure your money is protected. Banks and credit unions that are a part of the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation will insure your money for up to $100,000 per insured category.

  • Transaction limits. Banks in Canada may limit the number of transactions you can make within a month, or they may charge you for excessive transactions. Look for a bank account with unlimited transactions or one with low or no fees.

Additional features. There are certain perks you may get from different bank accounts like early paychecks, overdraft protection coverage, online banking, unlimited transactions, rewards points, bill payments, or savings tools.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!

Courtney Johnston

Courtney is a professional writer, editor and financial literacy enthusiast. You can find her writing on CNET, Investopedia, The Motley Fool, Yahoo Finance, MSN and The Balance. She spends her free time exploring different cities across the globe or enjoy some downtime with her two cats and one dog.



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