Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups
The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free
Insurance, FX and international movers
The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!
From our tax, investment and FX partners
Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

Canada - Banking

Canada’s banking system has been ranked the world’s safest for the past six years according to the World Economic Forum. Canada’s chartered banks have over 8,000 branches and 18,000 ATMs across the country. The Royal Bank of Canada was rated the tenth safest bank in the world by Global Finance magazine in 2010, and the Toronto-Dominion Bank rated fifteenth.

The largest and most dominant banks in the Canadian banking industry are known as the Big Five. These are the Royal Bank of Canada, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. These are among the 20 strongest $100-billion-asset banks in the world. Other large banks include the National Bank of Canada, HSBC Bank Canada, the Laurentian Bank of Canada, the Churchill Investments Group, Canadian Western Bank and ATB Financial.

The major banks all have specific newcomer accounts with incentives for new arrivals to the country. While all of these banks have monthly fees attached to their current (chequing) accounts, Tangerine Bank, a subsidiary of Scotiabank, charges no fees and even pays a small amount of interest, and so is a good option for newcomers wishing to save money ( Monthly charges at other banks can range from $5 to $30 a month but most will refund this money if the balance of the account is maintained at around $1000-1500. All ATMs charge fees unless you use the ATM attached to your own bank. The charge is usually around $1.50.

The HSBC is the seventh largest bank in Canada, and offers services tailored to expats. HSBC Expat has won the Forum for Expatriate Management Award for ‘Best Expatriate Banking Service of the Year’ for the past four years, and offers a flexible current account for expats with a choice of currencies and cards ( HSBC Canada also allows you the convenient option of opening an account while still in the UK. The Bank of Montreal, the CIBC and the Royal Bank of Canada also allow you to open an account before your arrival in Canada, but only allow the account to be activated once you get to Canada. You do not have to be a permanent resident to open one of these accounts.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada ( features the Account Selector Tool on its website, which enables users to compare features of different bank accounts, their interest rates, fees and services and choose the best fit for them.

The two main types of account available in Canadian banks are chequing accounts (current accounts) and savings accounts. Chequing accounts generally have low interest fees but low monthly fees and a debit card attached to the account, while savings accounts typically offer higher interest rates and may limit the amount of withdrawals allowed per month. Chequing accounts are more efficient for day-to-day banking. In order to open an account you will normally need to bring identification such as photo ID, your Social Security Number and a temporary or permanent resident permit. You may be asked to bring other documentation such as a working permit or proof of address, depending on the bank, however it is not necessary to be in employment in order to open an account. There is also no charge to open an account. Eligibility for overdrafts and loans will usually depend on your credit history and your capability of paying off the debt. Some banks will accept a credit report from your home country.

Bank opening hours are usually from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and most do not close for lunch, although in rural areas banks may have part-time opening hours. Many banks close on statutory holidays, although internet banking allows you to perform many operations remotely at any time of the day and year.

Useful Resources

HSBC Canada
Tel: 1 888 310 4722

Citibank Canada
Citigroup Place
123 Front St W
Suite 1100
Toronto, ON
M5J 2M3
Tel: 416 947 5500

Bank of Montreal
Tel: 1 877 225 5266

Tel: 1 800 267 1234

Royal Bank of Canada
Tel: 1 800 769 2511

TD Canada Trust
Tel: 1 866 222 3456

National Bank of Canada
Tel: 514 394 5555

Canadian Western Bank Group
Tel: 1 800 663 1124

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

Copyright © 2019 Expat Focus. All Rights Reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use/Privacy Policy. Comments are property of their posters.
Interactive software released under GNU GPL, Code Credits, Privacy Policy