Illustration by Melanie Lambrick
Getting established in a new country and understanding an unfamiliar financial system can be overwhelming. If you’re new to Canada, here’s what you need to know about getting your financial footing – from setting up a bank account to building your credit to saving and investing for life’s major milestones.
How can I open a bank account?
You’ll need two pieces of government-issued identification to open a bank account, such as a social insurance number (SIN), permanent resident card, provincial health card or Canadian driver’s licence. Three Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada forms – IMM 1442, IMM 1000 or IMM 5292 – are also valid identification. If you only have one piece of government ID, you can use a debit or credit card with your name and signature or a current foreign passport, among other options.
You can technically open a Canadian bank account while you’re still in your home country, but these tend to be preliminary account set-ups and you’ll have to visit a branch to show your ID. Online banks and investment apps that offer banking services are an exception, as the entire account set-up process is online.
While you don’t need your SIN to open a bank account, it makes sense to prioritize it: You’ll need one to be able to earn interest on your chequing or savings balances, as financial institutions are obligated to report any interest income you earn to the Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes.
What should I consider when choosing a financial institution?
In Canada you can open an account with a bank, credit union or digital bank. Enoch Omololu, founder of the personal finance website Savvy New Canadians, recommends newcomers compare account fees before committing to a financial institution. Banks and credit unions charge monthly account fees of between $5 and $30, and there may also be transaction fees for ATM withdrawals and e-transfers.
However, young newcomers and international students may be able to open no-fee accounts. Rob Carrick, The Globe and Mail’s personal finance columnist, highlighted the …….