Guide to Opening Canadian Bank Accounts for Americans (and other foreigners).

Canadian Banking Industry Information for Foreigners/Americans

First, I'll give a brief introduction to banking in Canada before providing the information on how to open a Canadian bank account as a foreigner. 

Canadian banks are regarded as some of the most stable in the world. They've been relatively untouched by the recent "credit crunch", and their stock prices have recovered quite well. The Canadian banking industry is relatively uncompetitive, which is why account fees and higher lending interest rates (and low "Term Deposit"* rates) allowed them to weather the storm so well. The Canadian government makes it very difficult for foreign banks to enter into Canada and compete in the retail banking market. So far, foreign banks like ING Direct, HSBC and Ally only operate online-only high-interest savings accounts, largely without chequing privileges, and these accounts will be unavailable to foreigners. 

Generally, a no-monthly-fee Canadian bank account is only available if you keep a sufficient minimum deposit (say, $1000) in the account throughout the month. Otherwise the fee is anywhere from $3.95 to $24.95/month depending on account type. 

Most Canadian bank accounts are insured through the CDIC, which is a similar institution to the FDIC, but there are some differences, so be sure to become familiar with them. One key difference is that foreign currency deposits are not insured, so if the bank goes under, the CDIC won't come to your assistance. The chances of one of the Big 5 banks failing is very low, but not zero. 

The Canadian banking industry is far more centralized than the US banking industry. What I mean by that is that 5 banks control 90%+ of retail banking across the whole country. Over the past couple of decades, these banks have been increasingly known by their acronyms rather than their full titles. These banks are:

  1. TD Bank (aka Toronto Dominion Bank) - though they own the US-Based TD-Bank, they're not at all integrated
  2. RBC (Royal Bank of Canada)
  3. BMO (Bank of Montreal)
  4. CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)
  5. ScotiaBank (Bank of Nova Scotia)

They all have extensive retail presences across Canada. 

A listing of their US$ Account Offerings are here. Some even offer Euro Accounts.

All of these banks should be happy to clear your cheques (yes, it's spelled that way in Canada) from the USA without any additional fees, but there may be a long hold period. Any branch will accept US$ Cash (bills only). Certainly money can be wired for a quicker transaction. 

ScotiaBank is a part of the Global ATM Alliance, meaning that you can use your Scotia Debit Card fee-free to withdraw money at any Bank of America ATM. Supposedly the exchange rates are excellent as well. 

Opening the Actual Canadian Bank Account

You don't have to be a Canadian resident or citizen to open a Canadian bank account, nor do you have to have any plans on immigrating/moving to Canada. Any of the five banks listed above should open up bank accounts for non-Canadians. You can open one up as a visa student or even a day visitor. As far as I know, you will need to physically visit a branch to set up an account, though there are some exceptions for those planning on moving permanently to Canada. All that should be required as documentation are your passport and another reasonable piece of identification, I'd suggest a local driver's license, national ID card and/or credit card as the second piece. 

I am not aware of any way of setting up an account without physically visiting a branch except for:

  1. HSBC Bank can sometimes set up an account locally where you live, and then transfer it to their Canadian division when you move.  Keep in mind that they don't have much of a retail presence across Canada.
  2. BMO has a "Newcomer to Canada" program, where you send in a painful mess of forms, including one your lawyer needs to fill out, which only allows you to send one wire transfer to it and they'll keep the account active for a max of 12 months until you do permanently move to Canada

It is best to make an appointment with the branch that you wish to visit, so they can have the best person available and the time to properly fill out all of your forms. Canadian banks tend to have very good customer service, since the industry is profitable and mature (so they try to retain whichever customers they can, and recruit any new ones that come along their way). 

Based on service and hours of operation, I'd rank the banks as so: TD > Scotia > BMO > RBC > CIBC. TD tends to have the best hours of operation. Look at all of the account offerings to find which would be best for you. 

safe deposit box for US resident

If as an American (and non-resident in Canada) I successfully open a Canadian bank account, should I expect any additional obstacles to securing a safe deposit box?

Paid by the US, but living in Canada

I am a US citizen currently living with a valid work visa in Canada, however I am paid by a US institution in US dollars, and by federal law direct deposit must be to a US financial institution. Is there a way to receive my paycheck without jumping through convoluted hoops.

Thanks very much

Business acounts for foreign companies

Can a foreign company, specifically a UK Ltd compnay, open a business account in Canada?



american in Canada wants to rebuild credit in America from Canad

I am an American living in Canada. I do not have an American Bank account or address. I do not have ful status in Canada (status is in process) so cannot leave Canada to personally open a bank account in the USA, I do want to begin to rebuild my American credit, in the event I return in a few years time, I would like to have current active credit in America. I do not have any American or Canadian credit cards. I do have a Canadian Bank account..which I was able to open with a temporary tax ID number the account is not at one of the big 5 banks, it is at a local credit union.

Rebuilding US Credit

This can be done.

You can open an account with TD Bank USA, by visiting TD Canada Trust's website for contact information. TD Bank USA offers a secured credit card to rebuild credit. This can be done without stepping foot into the USA. To comply with the Patriot Act (USA) you will most likely have to go to a Canadian TD branch to provide ID if you are not already a TD customer.,

Depending on your Canadian credit history, you also may be able to open a RBC Bank, USA account, and VISA card at any branch of RBC in Canada. You do not have to maintain a RBC account in Canada to have a RBC Bank, USA account, however it does make transferring funds and paying US bills easier. Info is available at RBC's US banks website at, and

Otherwise, if all else fails, you MAY be allowed to transfer a Capital One Canadian account to the US if you move back, I'd call to see if its possible, but personally, it would be a last resort. CapOne is known for misinformation, poor service, and unwilling to do anything outside of their desired parameters.

Good Luck.

HSBC Advance - Cannot open to foreigners


Reading your comment above:

HSBC Bank can sometimes set up an account locally where you live, and then transfer it to their Canadian division when you move. Keep in mind that they don't have much of a retail presence across Canada.

This does not seem to be the case.
I tried opening an account with them - HSBC Advance - Their customer service said, you can get your documentation confirmed via a local branch, but when I actually did this and submitted my form etc, I received 2 weeks later an e-mail saying, they cannot open to foreigners any accounts who do not live or plan to live in canada.

How do you know one can open an account from abroad via HSBC?

Best Regards: Bohdan

HSBC would do this for you

HSBC would do this for you until very recently.

They have been charged, and are now closely scrutinized because of foreign money laundering.

I'm sure if they could, they still would - but the US government watching them under a microscope now.

I just moved to Montreal from

I just moved to Montreal from the US and until i received my work visa and my Canadian Soc Security number i could not open the account. No way around it as far as i can tell. good luck!!!

Is the east different from the west?

Different story in Vancouver:

BMO opened a checking account and US$ savings account for me with just my American learner's permit and passport. TD opened a savings account for me with the same. Vancity (credit union in Vancouver) opened both and threw in a US$ savings account. All of them said they had well-established procedures for opening accounts for those without residency.

TD is extremely strict, They

TD is extremely strict, They require two pieces of ID and the first MUST be from an approved Canadian issuer. (Refer to TD website...'New to Canada' the second piece can be foreign, again, once an auditor catches this... You'll be out of an account.


VanCity is legally limited to provide banking services to residents of the Province of BC only. If this is the case, and someone opened an account for you as a non-resident, it will only be a matter of time before an auditor discovers this, your account will be closed, and funds sent to your U.S. address. A current member who lives in BC must liquidate their VanCity accounts if they move outside of the bond of association (Prov of B.C.), otherwise, VanCity would have absorbed the accounts, loans and mortgages of Citizens Bank customers when they voluntarily dissolved that subsidiary of VanCity.

Like the U.S. - Credit Unions have a 'limited' bond of association. VanCity is a credit union, not a bank. A Canadian cannot open an account at a credit union in the U.S., as well, an American cannot open one in Canada (as a non-resident) as neither has a bond that would cover outside of the individual country that they operate in, more frequently, provinces and states, and in most cases, even smaller geographic areas limited to the cities, and counties that they operate physical offices in.

The most likely answer is

The most likely answer is that a branch that's unfamiliar with opening accounts for non-Canadians may just say they can't do it rather than figure it out. Vancouver is crawling with non-Canadian citizens (students, visitors, immigrants, permanent residents), so I figure most of their branches have the procedure down pat.

I'm a bit surprised the credit union did, I thought you may have to be a resident there to become a member, but every credit union has different policies.

Best Bank account for me


I am a Caandian residing abroad and want to open a bank account in Canada. I would also like to have access to my account (and money !) from abroad i.e. Pakistan.

Which is the best option for me as I would probably made not more than 12 transactions a year, deposits and withdrawals.

Please advise.....thanks

ICICI Bank Canada?

ICICI Bank Canada?

US citizen opening a Canadian Bank account without being there.

I'm a US citizen trying to open a bank account in Canada through power of Attorney. Is it possible to give power of attorney to a Canadian lawyer to open a small bank account that I could purchase things for my daughter and her mother who both live in Canada. It would make things so much easier.

Under the Bank Act,

Under the Bank Act, absolutely not.

I went to both TD bank and

I went to both TD bank and RBC today to try to open an account. I am currently visiting Canada (in Toronto) and have a permanent residency. I came with my passport and New York State driver's license. I have a checking account at Chase in New York. I was told that this was not sufficient to open a bank account. I would need some sort of temporary residency visa, Canadian driver's license or Canadian passport. As those were pretty out of the question, the only alternative that either bank could offer was if I had a friend or relative in Canada that could sponsor me. I did not ask what that entailed entirely, as I don't really know anyone here other than my landlord and it seems pretty unlikely that he'd do that for me.
Umm... is there anything else that can be done? I'm reluctant to just go to every different bank if I'm only going to be told the same thing.
Thanks for your help

Go back, with permanent

Go back, with permanent residency you MUST have paperwork from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. With this, they must open an account, even if your second piece of ID is foreign. The problem is most likely you were in Toronto (which is technically a 'border' city if you travelled by boat, however don't have much exposure to opening an account for an American, had you applied in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls or Windsor, you wouldn't have been refused (same as commenter from Montreal) - you'll find in Canada if someone isn't familiar with a process or procedure, in most cases they'll say 'it can't be done' instead of looking into it further. Also in Canada, chequing/savings accounts cost money for banks to operate, (although its illegal for them to refuse) - if they don't see any further business prospects like loans or credit, they really don't want your business. Reps don't get 'sales' points for basic day-to-day transaction accounts, and if they can't sell you anything else, they'd rather say its not 'allowed' because there is nothing in it (incentive wise) for them.

Can't open TD bank account without Canadian IDs

My husband is Canadian and I am American. I still live in the US because I haven't gotten permanent residency for Canada yet. When I do, I will be moving there to live with my husband. He wanted to add me to his TD Canada Trust checking account, as many married couples prefer to do in both the US and Canada. Obviously, it would be good in an emergency for me to have access to my husband's bank account and vice versa. We made an appointment with my husband's branch bank and brought my US Passport, my Oregon Driver's license, and a certified copy of our marriage certificate. We were turned down because I didn't have any Canadian-issued identification. I need at least one of those. I cannot obtain any Canadian-issued identification until I am a legal resident of Canada. Here's what is required to open an account in Canada:

As you can see, you need at least 1 piece of ID that would prove that you are a Canadian citizen or legal Canadian resident. Husband and I are just keeping our fingers crossed that we have no emergencies between now and when I am a legal resident of Canada.

Get a drivers license. It's

Get a drivers license. It's easy and you can keep your NY one too.

Get a Drivers Licence

You must prove residency in Canada to get a Canadian Drivers Licence. If you change residency you have SIX business days to notify the Ministry of Transportation, if you don't, you could face jail time. A non-resident cannot possess a drivers licence. It's not 'easy' - it's fraud, and you'll very much jeopardize your permanent residency. You'd be best to ask your immigration attorney (who can also assist you with banking and financial matters) - some layman advice in a blog can get you in a heap of trouble!

US LLC and accounts in Canadian Banks

Can a US Company, (an LLC), open a Canadian bank account without disclosing directors and other information, and if so which bank or banks are amenable to this?

I am a retired banker from

I am a retired banker from one of Canada's largest banks.

The answer to your question is... Absolutely not.

Most big Canadian Banks have foreign offices, such as in the US, New York, Miami, and Atlanta, who would not only handle a foreign corporate account opening, but can answer all your foreign banking questions.

Firstly, I'm really not sure

Firstly, I'm really not sure about this. but beware of the IRS implications of doing so with regards to reporting foreign bank accounts.
Secondly, the Canadian bank would probably want information on directors and such. When I opened a Canadian account for a Canadian corporation, they wanted a copy of the Articles of Incorporation as well as some other info.
Call one up and ask!

opening Canadian bank account

Can we open Canadian bank accounts (as US citizens) without SS# or EIN?

Yes. You do not ever have to

Yes. You do not ever have to provide a SIN, or SSN in Canada for a bank account. You will have to physically go to a branch however, and like the U.S., you are best to go to a border city, where they are more versed on opening accounts for Americans. Call first however, as the rules constantly change. Such as Chase USA would open accounts for Canadian and Mexican non-residents, and recently changed this policy to Ontario residents, as the only non-residents who can open accounts at Chase (as of a few weeks ago - per Chase branch manager in MI).

canadian banking

are canadian bank accounts secure from lawsuit or jugjement ? JD

Unless its a registered

Unless its a registered retirement plan with funds older than a year before any claim towards it, no. you must be a resident to have a registered account, so long story short, no. No safe haven here. Now, you might want to look at a Canadian Bank branch in a Caribbean country. Still CDN dollar accounts, still a branch of CDN bank, but different laws. Scotia, Royal both have branches in most Caribbean countries. Cayman Island being most popular. The laws the Caribbean country rule, funds not covered by CDIC nor FDIC.

Canadian dollars with American Banking

If you're like me then you don't really want to make arrangements to go to Canada to open an account - especially if you live nowhere near the border. I use Everbank - an online bank in America. Here's what I did, maybe you want to check it out for yourself...
1. Open a Yield Pledge Checking account online. This is a standard checking account (earns interest) with check writing and debit card access.
2. Open a World Markets account (a separate business unit within Everbank). With this account you can buy nearly any currency you want including Canadian Dollars. You can also buy gold and silver - not paper gold and silver, actual gold and silver coin held for you in a vault (I think you can have the coins delivered to you for a fee, but if you want to hold it yourself why not go to a respected local dealer?)
3. Link the two accounts together. You can now transfer money freely between your checking account and your World Markets account. Putting your US$ into Canadian$ this way essentially means you are buying Canadian$ as an investment.
4. Link your Yield Pledge Checking to any external bank account.

Here's what I do: Client pays me in US dollars, I deposit the check into my local bank account (for convenience), once it clears I transfer the US dollars into my Everbank checking (a few simple clicks - a simple money transfer between banks), then transfer again into Canadian dollars (a simple internal bank transfer). The process takes a few days longer than if I had an account at a Canadian bank, but it's super flexible as I have access to many different currencies. Canadian dollar suddenly not looking good? Transfer it to Australian Dollars or Danish Krone (both looking good). My purpose is not to get Canadian dollars, but to protect my money and this is the most flexible way of doing it that I've found (without having to get on a plane).

It's important to note that

It's important to note that Canadian Funds, or any other foreign currencies are NOT insured by the FDIC if Everbank, r any other US bank is taken over for insolvency by the Comptroller of the Currency.

In Canada, US Dollar accounts are also not covered by the CDIC. However US funds held in a US bank, in the USA are insured by the FDIC for Canadians (non residents) as well as Canadian funds on deposit in a Canadian bank are insured by the CDIC for non-residents as well.

If you have a substantial amount of USD, a Canadian would be well advised to put these funds in a US bank to be FDIC insured, a VIS-a-VIS, an American with substantial CDN funds.

It's harder however to open a Canadian account for a non-resident, unlike a Canadian opening a US account as Canadians travel and invest more in the USA than any other non-resident, however he reverse is certainly not the case when it comes to Americans in Canada ( until very recently ).

FDIC and Foreign Currency Deposits

Hey Jeff.

Thank you very much for all of the posts you've made. I'm making my way through them all right now as I clear out the spam from the past few weeks.

My non-legally-binding impression was that the FDIC actually *does* insure foreign currency deposits at FDIC-insured institutions: check out part (c) at the following:

It says so in the above, but it should be made clear that, since the FDIC can only print US$, and not EUR, GBP or CAD, they're going to repay you in US$, regardless of what your original currency deposit was.

Reading up on the Everbank Icelandic Kroner fiasco should be required reading for anyone that does plan on making foreign currency deposits at FDIC-insured institutions.

It is true that the CDIC, as well as the credit union deposit insurance system in Ontario, does *not* insure foreign currency deposits at all. So if your bank goes insolvent, you will lose it all (most likely). Jeff offers good advice for those with US$ to deposit: Do it at a US FDIC-insured deposit bank if you want deposit insurance (and likely better interest rates).


Thanks Dan.

I haven't look closely into FDIC's insurance rules since the late 80's. They've changed substantially, unlike the CDIC rules. I have done some reading on EverBank, and personally unless I could afford to lose money that I deposited there, I'd stay away. There seems to be a substantial history of complaints with them (if this is the same EverBank, based out of Jacksonville, FL).


Thanks Dan.

I haven't look closely into FDIC's insurance rules since the late 80's. They've changed substantially, unlike the CDIC rules. I have done some reading on EverBank, and personally unless I could afford to lose money that I deposited there, I'd stay away. There seems to be a substantial history of complaints with them (if this is the same EverBank, based out of Jacksonville, FL).

Some More Info

CDIC protection only covers Canadian Dollar Accounts up to $100,000 per CDIC Member Bank. If you open a Checking Account, you get $100,000 coverage. If you open a Saving Account and a Checking Account - your coverage is still only $100,000. The only suggestion is to open a savings account at more than one institution that has CDIC Insurance coveage. Opening more than one savings account at the same bank, but different branches doesn't count - your coverage will still be $100,000.

I suggest opening an account at either TD Canada Trust since they have a large US entity, TD Bank on the East Coast and are open 7 days a week. If you have an account at TD Bank in the US and a TD Canada Trust account in can call one 1-800 number to transfer funds back and forth, within the day. I believe that Harris Bank in the Mid-West has a similar service with their parent company Bank of Montreal in Canada. RBC (Centura) Bank in the South can do it for their RBC Royal Bank of Canada but as they are looking into selling their US Banking Unit soon, that may screw things up. In all cases, you have to show up in person with 2 pieces of ID to open an account in Canada - US Passport to prove citizenship, State Driver's License or Major Credit Card in your name. Also bring a small amount of US cash to deposit.

As far as I know, Canadian Banks don't involve the IRS for the opening of basic savings/checking accounts (they barely pay any interest if any) - Brokerage Accounts are a different story where there is an IRS form to fill out. They may just use a Social Security Card for ID purposes with regards to opening the checking/savings account - after they record the number on your signature card, there really isn't any other use for it by the bank at branch level. Americans now have to check a box on their 1040 if they have any foreign based accounts over $10,000 - so the whole IRS/SS thing with the bank is moot.


A W8-BEN form must be filed, and renewed on a regular basis for any interest bearing account irregardless of the balance or interest earned.

When filing this form, be extremely careful - do not put your Canadian SIN number in the US SSN space. Yes, there are the exactly the same amount of numbers in a SIN as a SSN and it fits nicely in the boxes, however, it is a FELONY to do so.

A felony is generally considered to be a crime of "high seriousness", while a misdemeanor is not.
A person convicted in a court of law of a felony crime is known as a felon.
In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.
If punishable by exactly one year or less, it is classified as a misdemeanor.[1] The individual states may differ in this definition, using other categories as seriousness or context.

American Opening Canadian Bank Account

I live in a border town and am considering opening a Canadian Bank Account. I was told by TD Bank in Canada that I would need 2 pieces of photo ID to open an account. I asked specifically if they required a US Social Security Number to open an account, and they said "yes". I asked if they had any reporting requirements with the US IRS, they said "no", but I'm not sure I trust what they say. Why the hell would they need to know my SS number if they don't have some sort of communication with the IRS? Anyone have any idea if I could trust a Canadian bank not to communicate with the IRS?

Again, it's illegal for a

Again, it's illegal for a bank to require a SIN, SSN. Your answer was an opinion of one person, and not necessarily correct. In Canada when you call the border city local branch, you are really directed to a call centre, most likely far away from a border, or even in India, tell the operator you want to be either directly connected to the branch you want to deal with, or get them to call you. Ask for the operators first name and ID and a reference number for the call (this ensures that they do exactly what you ask, and don't blow you off, which happens more often than not when you reach a call centre - the reps are timed per call by the second, and won't do anything further to jeopardize their call stats).

to pedro

Hey pedro, you can get a foreign currency account with an online bank called everbank. Also, if you are near california, there is a chinese-american bank called cathay and they offer foreign currency accounts too. Both banks have fdic insurance for depositors. I hope this helped. Good luck.

American seeking Canadian Bank Accountg

I am impressed with the knowledge that no Canadian banks have failed why we lost over 700 in the past year. I have been stunned to find that a bank I do business with is rated D-, that is just since September when was rated a C by Weiss Ratings. Any information would be welcome. Thanks in advance.

September 1995 saw a few bank

September 1995 saw a few bank failures in Canada, like the Canadian Commercial Bank and Northland Bank, since then many smaller regional banks and trust companies have been swallowed up by the Big Six banks. Much of the same that happened here in '95 has been happening in the US since '08' where the big players like BOA, Citi, Chase, 5/3, PNC, TD, and Wells Fargo have been swallowing up the smaller regional banks forming their own 'Big Seven' forming a similar banking system to Canada, with even increased credit card interest rates, and fee laden accounts much like we've been used to for decades, helping capitalize these behemoths and making them more stable by you, the account holder lining their pocket with more and more fees added to your basic banking. If the US continues to emulate the Canadian system, soon you'll be paying $2 a month to get your bank statement, while earning .005% on your savings, 22% on your credit card, as you kiss your 30 year fixed 4% mortgage goodbye forever with a 5 year term, rate renewable mortgage to protect your bank from economic changes, with your exposure to risk of interest rate changes, and not your banks exposure to long-term risk. This is why Canadian banks are well capitalized to weather the economic storms.

Jeff is telling it like it

Jeff is telling it like it is: there are costs to having an overly stable banking system. If the banks aren't forced to take risks, then the common people lose out.

American opening Canadian bank account

How do you overcome the foreign currency deposit exception to CDIC protection.
I want to open an account as a safety measure against the decline of the US dollar but I want the CDIC protection.
What's the most efficient way to just open a personal savings account there ?

There isn't any. Nor will

There isn't any. Nor will their ever be. If foreign currencies were insured by nations that are more stable, there would be a run on the banks in areas not as stable (as you figured out) collapsing the whole economic system. This is why each country only insured their own currencies, in the banks they regulate.

... with the exception of the

... with the exception of the FDIC at this time.

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