When it comes to opening a bank account in Canada each bank will have slightly different criteria regarding what you will have to do in order to do this and the type of services/accounts that will be available to you. The good news is that opening an account before you emigrate is possible and fairly straightforward – although you will often need proof that you have applied to live in Canada and will, usually, need to be physically present at the bank to gain full access to the account. Typically, to fully open an account with a Canadian bank you will need to officially open it in person (although you can apply to do so online).
You will generally be required to show two pieces of identification – usually a Permanent Resident Card and either a passport, Canadian driving licence, Social Insurance number card, etcetera. Most banks will be able to provide you with a list of documents that they accept as identification.
It’s worth mentioning that some Canadian banks allow you to open an account while you are still living outside of the country, but the account will be restrained until you visit a branch and sign a ‘signature card’ once you have emigrated. During this time, you can deposit funds to the account, but will not be able to withdraw them.
Most bank accounts – at all banks – charge a small monthly fee with the amount differing depending on the kind of account you have. However, according to the Canadian Banking Association, 60 per cent of Canadians spend CDN$15 or less per month on service fees; and 31 per cent pay no service fees at all. Those who pay no fees either take advantage of no-fee service packages for seniors, students or youth, maintain a minimum monthly account balance, or choose a no-fee electronic (internet) banking package.