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A chequing account is the easiest banking product to open and start using. Here's some information on how to do so, including what kind of identification you'll need to provide, what information the lender needs from you, how to open a bank account online, and what to do if a lender won't open an account for you.
Unlike with a credit card, you can open a chequing account even if you don't have a job, have no money to put in it, and even if you've claimed bankruptcy – there's no credit check and no minimum balance required. By law, it's every Canadian's right to have access to at least one personal bank account so they can deposit their money somewhere and not have to keep cash on hand.
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Depending on which provider you decide to open a bank account with, the process may work one of two ways:
Either way, you'll need to include some basic information about yourself, such as your name, date of birth, social insurance number and contact information. As well, you may need to provide up to two pieces of identification (ID).
If you apply online, you will likely already have had to include one piece of ID: your social insurance number. However, you may be required to provide two pieces, and you have a number of options to choose from, including:
If you can't provide two pieces of ID from the list above, you may be able to show other debit/credit cards with signatures and/or even have the lender call someone who knows you to confirm your identity.
No. Many Canadian banks allow you to open a chequing account without making an initial deposit. That means you can open an account without any money up front. However, if the account charges a monthly fee you will want to deposit at least enough money to cover it to avoid being charged NSF fees.
Depending on what stage you're at in the moving process, there may be some extra steps you'll need to take to open a bank account in Canada.
As part of the application process, your provider has to provide in writing, or electronically, information proving that you agreed to open the account and the terms in its agreement. This package of information may include:
It's the provider's responsibility to get this information to you within seven days of opening the account.
Once you finish your application and agree to the terms in the account's agreement, your bank account should be approved instantly. If you applied in-person, you'll usually be given a debit card right away. If you applied online, however, you may be able to start using the account online but have to wait a few days for your debit card to arrive in the mail. Once it does, call the toll-free number on the card to activate it.
It might be your right, but banks can still refuse to open an account for you if you show false ID, harass or threaten a bank teller, if they suspect you're going to use the account for illegal or fraudulent business or if they suspect you've committed a crime related to a bank in the past.
It's unlikely you'll ever find yourself in this situation but, if you do, make sure the lender provides a written letter stating that they will not open an account for you and give you the contact information for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).
Once your account is open, you'll want to set up the account so you can use it for your regular transactions. For most people, this means setting up a direct deposit, as well as any bill payments. Here's a quick checklist of things to set up when you open a new chequing account: