Opening a Bank Account in Canada: I have been asked many times if I can recommend a good bank for those of you moving to Canada and I’ve always thought to myself “How can I? I’ve not tried every bank, how can I compare them?

On top of that, there is so much to consider; service fees, deposit rates, interest rates, transfer fees, minimum account balances, overdraft fees, late payment fees, ATM fees, debit card transaction fees and more. Even if I were able to somehow compare them all, each and every one of these fees can be changed by any bank at any time making the comparison outdated.

Here in Canada, we have a “Big Five” that dominate the banking industry. Those banks are the Bank of Montreal (BMO), the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD).

With many banks, credit unions and financial service companies vying for your banking business, opening a bank account in Canada and choosing the right one is extremely important when you first move here so that you can start to build your credit rating from day 1.

When we arrived here back in 2007, we opened bank accounts with RBC. They were one of the first banks to offer a dedicated Newcomer to Canada service and we found opening a bank account in Canada an absolute breeze. You do pay for banking here so shopping around for a competitive, no-fee account is super important. Opening a bank account with RBC allows you to access no-monthly-fee banking for 6 months and no annual fee on credit cards, which you can take advantage of as a Newcomer to Canada.

Royal Bank (RBC) is Canada’s biggest bank and has the largest combined branch and ATM network across Canada, with more than 4,200 ATMs. That being said, if ever there was an industry that could use considerable change, it’s the Canadian banking sector.  

Once your credit rating is well and truly established, you can look into more competitive online banking accounts such as Tangerine or President’s Choice Financial. Both Tangerine and PC Financial offer no-fee daily chequing account options and will save you money down the road.

How do you open an account?

Opening a Bank Account in Canada 

You don’t have to wait until you get here to open the bank account. Maybe you would prefer to pick up your bank account cards and credit cards as soon as you arrive in Nova Scotia. Because you’ll certainly be putting them to good use 😉

RBC have made it very easy to open an account with them. You can even open it from the comfort of your own home outside of Canada. By clicking the above link you can start the process or you can open the account at the branch when you visit Nova Scotia on a reccie trip or when you land here.

You won’t be able to withdraw any money from your account until you have had your identity check, that’s Canadian law. You can do that remotely from outside of Canada provided you get your documents certified by an acceptable certifier, RBC will provide you with a list.

Alternatively, you can complete your identity check upon arrival, that’s what we did and it was very easy. Simply turn up at your bank within six weeks of arrival and all you will need to show is your passport, a valid visa and a Canadian residential address.

As always, get in touch if you have any questions regarding opening a bank account in Canada or any other questions about moving to Nova Scotia.

Life is good in Nova Scotia.

Rich and Jane

Moving 2 Nova Scotia

For more information on banking, investment and mortgages for Newcomers to Canada, you may find this link helpful. Newcomers to Canada – RBC