US Bank Accounts for Canadians only: No US Visit req'd: Harris Bank (BMO-owned)

Yes, it looks like it is now possible for Canadians in Canada with no US connections to open up a US-based US$ Bank Account. Well, one that has no transaction fees that is. You don't need to make a trip down to the USA to open this account as a Canadian.

Enter Harris Bank Free Checking

Harris Bank is owned by BMO, but that's pretty much where their Canadian connection ends. They're not at all integrated with BMO, but they do seem to gladly welcome Canadians through their online form.

Harris Bank's branches are mainly in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. They have plenty in Chicago.

RBC's US Bank will open accounts for Canadians without making a trip to the USA, but if you don't keep a high enough monthly balance throughout the month, you'll have to pay monthly fees. Harris Bank's offering is _free_, and has no monthly balance requirements. Their only requirement seems to be a starting deposit of US$100, which you can send in by cheque (not sure if they'll accept CAD$ or Canadian bank US$ cheques), deposit in person at a Harris bank branch, or you can even use your Visa/Mastercard.

I'm not sure if the Visa/Mastercard opening method counts as a cash advance, or as a purchase.

The Harris Free Checking Account includes:

  • Free introductory checks
  • Free Harris Debit MasterCard
  • Unlimited Checks and Electronic Payments each month

As well as the expected online and telephone banking.

I'm not sure how many free checks you get, but the fact that you get any is pretty good, and then you can order more through any US check printer.

Other Helpful US Banking for Canadians Articles:


Once the account has been opened online, how do you tranfers funds into it?

Hi Patricia, You've probably

Hi Patricia,

You've probably already found the answers you need - but I thought thought I would mention that I opened a personal account with Harris Bank for exactly the purpose that you describe, and have had no problems moving funds from my MarketPlace account - which is registered in my business name (albeit with my name as the main business contact).

Unfortunately it looks like Harris has discontinued their free checking account offer, although you can still get an affordable one.

Hope that helps,

Just opened up a savings

Just opened up a savings account with Harris. As indicated, there is now not only a min. $100 deposit, but avg monthly balances of $500 (savings) or $1000 (chequing) must be maintained to avoid the $4.50 (savings) and $7 (chequing) monthly fees.

I opened only a savings account because the main thing i need it for is to have a US destination for my company's stock which gets hit with myriad fees if I want it sent to me by any other means than a US cheque, which for reasons unclear to anyone takes months (literally) to arrive). My current hope is that I will have a zero-cost transfer now to the US bank and then just transfer to my US $ account at my CDN bank for no charge. Leaving $500 at .5% interest per annum (or whatever it is) seems like an okay way to do that.

If anyone hears of a no-fee US bank that will take a Canadian not-in-person application, please post. BTW, the online form for Harris was very smooth. Once I'd selected I was a Canadian, all following form fields were for Canadian equivalents (e.g., SIN, Postal Code, etc). Thanks for the info on your blog!

No Fee Accounts - No Visit Required

Due to the Patriot Act, Non-Residents applying online for a U.S. Account at a U.S. Based bank is no longer legal.

However, There are three U.S. banks with Canadian parents who have negotiated the ability to do so, even with the Patriot Act. They're of Course... BMO, RBC, & TD. There are two additional banks you may want to look into, NBC, and Desjardins who have branches in Florida, and currently cater to French-Canadians in Florida.

TD has a 'almost' free account, it's called TD Convenience Checking, and as long as you keep a minimum balance of $100 (not AVERAGE - but MINIMUM) the $15 a month fee is waived.

The best value so far still remains with RBC. $3.95 a month is NOT really that much to pay for all that is available to you. RBC specifically caters to Canadians in the U.S. while TD gives the option to have a U.S. Account for Canadians but the catering really stops there.

RBC is the only institution with 'real-time' foreign exchange transfers from Canada to the U.S.A. or Visa-Versa. They offer a bonafide U.S. Bank issued VISA credit card (not a U.S. dollar Visa card account issued here in Canada, and there is a difference, a huge difference). The other institutions require a phone call, and transfer at the earliest...the next business day. RBC offers ATM services for deposits and withdrawals at thousands of PNC branches east of the Mississippi River from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, as well RBC has branches throughout the Caribbean, a truly 'North American Bank'.

TD claims to offer a U.S. Visa card from their U.S. Subsidiary, however, you must have a U.S. Address in a state they do business in, unlike RBC who is a National Association (N.A.) bank, that is licensed to, and does business in all 50 States.

If you live close to the border, and do not have a permanent U.S. Residence, you might want to consider a U.S. Post Office Box. They issue them now to Canadians for as little as $58/yr. (PassPort Required) - Once you are issued a VISA from RBC Bank in the U.S., you can elect to have your billing address as your P.O. box, allowing you to obtain a U.S. ZipCode making purchases at automated pumps easy. The 00 before your numbers in the postal code has NEVER worked for me in the states I've travelled in. If you cannot get to your P.O. box every month, you can still see your transactions and bill due online at, and pay it online.

When you have a bonafide U.S. dollar VISA card issued by a U.S. bank, and a U.S. Address (or P.O. box) - a different world opens up. For example, you can obtain NetFlix from the U.S., HuluPlus, even iTunes in the U.S.A., the requirements are a U.S. Address, a U.S. Issued POST paid Credit Card, and a service that gives an IP address from the U.S.A.

A free ViSA card from RBC, my $58 Post Office Box, and $4.99 CAD a month from a VPN service gives me access to HuluPlus for just $7.99, able to ditch that $70/mo cable bill and access in both countries at anytime, It wasn't my initial intention, but it was a welcome bonus to my accounts for DRIP investments, U.S. bills and U.S. Travel.

business account in US for canadian

This is my situation...I am intoe commerce. I buy all and sell 9-% of my items in the US
I want to start to sell on Amazon but they require a valid US chequing account.
All the information here seems to be refering to a US personal chequing account. Do I need a business account or will I be permitted to use the personal account for business purposes.
The use would be a deposit every 14 days from amazon and payments out as required to one on my US suppliers.
I do not want to open a personal account with say Harris bank and then find they will not allow me to use it for the needs I have?
Some input into this from you would be greatly appreciated as I have never done anything like his before and want to avoid all issues...but also want to grow my business.
I can also go for a UK account which might be easier for me a Canadian but then there is the exchange back and forth which I would like to avoid.
Thanks for any input you can provide for me.

Business Accounts

Check with RBC. At the time of their sale, they did make arrangements with PNC Bank to maintain their U.S. accounts on their behalf. Worth a try.

Chase will opens a business checking accounts for Canadians who live in Ontario only, nowhere else outside of the U.S.. A visit is required.

I don't see why Amazon would

I don't see why Amazon would not accept your US checking account, even if it is a personal one, as long as the account is registered personally. If you have the account registered through your Canadian corporation, they might not like the fact that the names don't match, you'll have to ask them that, or take a look at how the information is entered into their direct deposit form.

TD Bank

I was in Florida earlier this month and saw all the TD banks there.
When I returned home (Alberta) I inquired about doing business in the US through TD as I have a personal and business account here. I was informed that in the US those banks are called stores and the only similarity or connection is the name on the building.If I had walked into the TD down there they could not access any information with my cards.The bank here then asked if I wanted to open a US account with them,that would be pointless.
I hope this helps. Don

TD Bank & TD Canada Trust

Here's a bit more information for my fellow Canadians who have gone south...

I wasn't told if there would be some sort of integration, but I was told what steps to take in order to get a TD Bank Credit Card.

1. Apply online at
2. Get declined.
3. Call the credit department @ TD Bank.
4. They'll ask you to send them your SIN/Canadian account information.
5. They'll forward all of that to HQ (i.e. Toronto)
6. HQ will determine if TD Bank in the US can give you a credit card leveraged/based on your Canadian credit history

A bit long winded compared to RBC, but it's another option.

Maybe if this supposed integration takes place they'll offer easier and better options for Canadians (specially for mortgages--like RBC does). I'm sure Americans heading up north would appreciate the same treatment.

TD Integration

I tried to open an account at TD Bank USA, their flat out answer is NO! TD Bank USA will not open an account for anyone who is not a permanent resident of the United States. TD Canada Trust however advised me that later on this year they will be doing a planned system integration where you can go into a TD Bank "store" in the US and access your accounts thru a teller, as well as Americans can go into a Canada Trust branch and access their accounts at a teller as well. This however will not resolve the issue of actually having an US based US dollar account as your US account will still be domiciled at your Canadian Branch.

I myself have been banking with RBC Bank USA for over a year and it has been flawless. I have however been dinged a couple of time for the $3.95 fee when the balance dropped below $700. When you call RBC Bank USA, your call is actually routed back to a Canadian call centre as they closed their US call centres and integrated them with Canada.

The ability to instantly move funds from RBC Royal to RBC Bank USA is really the best benefit, and the funds are instantly available. You can send funds to The Harris through BMO, however you must subscribe to their most expensive banking plan to get that service, it is not instant, and funds transfers do not work "both ways" to and from the American bank.

The only thing that peeves me about RBC Bank USA is that they do offer free checking accounts however Canadians can only have the "Embassy Checking Account" which has a $3.95 fee... I'm thinking RBC Royal decided we should pay a fee because that's what were used to... Americans rarely pay fees for a checking account, so it must have been an easy way to generate revenue from those Canadians who never complain, and are used to paying fees... be careful which RBC account you open, there are two, and the other account has a $29.95 per month fee.

Since RBC Bank USA never opened your account, and great care is being made to separate the Canadian accounts from the US resident accounts, leads me to believe if the Royal ever sells off RBC Bank USA, the Canadian accounts will be repatriated back to Canada or closed.


Did Harris bank ask for copy of your Canadian passport to prove citizenship?? I only have Canadian SIN and driver's license, is that okay? Thanks

Harris Business Banking

I need to open a US account for my business.

Has anyone done this yet? It sounds like all the accounts mentioned in this thread are personal, unless I am mistaken.

If you've opened up a US business account from Canada, what information did they require? I'm strongly considering going with Harris thanks to the info on this blog.

Your suggestions/info is greatly appreciated!

Opening up a US Business Account by Canadians

I, too, need to open up a US business account in a US bank.

I see that you are in the same situation and was wondering if you had any success.

Please let me know


Harris Bank - US Banking for Canadians

Thanks to the find on this page and other Dan Matan pages (after Googling this topic to death), I've decided to go the Harris Bank route. I just received my MasterCard debit (that's right debit not credit) card and checks (known as checks in the US, not cheques) are on the way. I'm all set up for online banking. They also offer Bank by Mail (BBM) so that US clients can send checks directly to Harris Bank for deposit into my business account -- no charge.

$2 Non-Harris ATM Fee, Currency conversion fee?

they are waiving the ATM fee for students, what you guys? Also do they pad the exchange rates? there's no mention of a forex fee in their fee schedule ( but that doesn't mean it's not there....

all works as it should

I opened an account in Jul'10 and wasnt required to send *anything* in as for ID. I'm pretty certain that they can x-ref your file when you submit your CAD SSN though... The CAD SSN even works when you set up the online banking stuff... no problems with harris :)

No - I did not send any

No - I did not send any copies of passports; only driver's licence.

Yes. I don't even remember

Yes. I don't even remember sending them copies of anything but I may have sent them a photocopy of my driver's license. It definitely doesn't have to be a passport

Harris Bank

I would like comment on the procedure on the Harris Bank application:
- I applied for the Harris Bank account over the Internet (one checking and one savings); the next day I got a call back asking me for the security code of the credit card I entered via the website for the initial transfer of funds. I didn't have it with me at the time so I told the Harris rep that I would call her later that day, which I did. She told me that my account had been approved and they would be sending me some documents for me to sign. Later that day day I got an email informing me of the same thing. (The initial load of $100 is treated as a purchase, not cash advance)
- Later I received the Harris MasterCard Debit card and its security code (arrived seperately)
- I tried registering for online banking, but the website required SSN which I do not have. I called them and they transferred me to a separate department; that other dept. asked me some questions, like drivers licence number, Canadian SIN number, etc. and activated online banking for me.
- A few weeks later, another Harris Bank rep called me as to whether I received the documents, which I said no. She'll said she'll resend them.
- Today I received a bunch of stuff in the mail: documents to sign including Harris Bank signature form, W-8BEN form (for IRS) [one envelope], cheque book [2nd envelope], and deposit/withdrawal slips [3rd envelope].

Harris Bank

Just a few comments:

- the initial starting deposit is charged as a purchase, not cash advance
- Harris allows Canadians to access online web banking, but you'll need to call them to set it up. They'll ask you for Social Insurance Number, Driver's Licence number, etc.

An update to this: I don't

An update to this:

I don't know if they've updated things because of more Canadians applying but I have 0 problems setting up online banking myself.

The initial form will ask a Social Security Number but I just put my Social Insurance Number instead, which is the same amount of digits as the US SIN anyway, and it worked just fine.

USA RBC Accounts

I am a Canadian having work in the US for a little while. When I returned to Canada a few months ago, I reliazed that I still had to pay Uncle Sam's creditors (namely AMEX and Visa) so I opended an RBC USA Aceess account from the friendly confines of my branch on Harbord Street here in Toronto. You see my California based US Bank (that's the name of the bank BTW) was obvioulsy too far away from Ontario for me to physically make dposits so I needed to think fast to be able make my monthly payments on time... introducing RBC! Now I can tranfer money back and forth between RBC USA and RBC Royal Bank with the click of a mouse! I've pretty well much paid off my US credit cards but do continue to use my US based Amex Gold card as I get points on everything I buy. I then can transfer over my reward points to Aeroplan for that future trip my wife and I are going to take to New Zealand. Besides I can use my debit Visa just like a credit card up here and every merchant thinks its an actual based credit card!

I'm cool w/keeping a high enough monthly balance

Say you drop this requirement of not having to "keep a high enough monthly balance throughout the month" (sometime these high enough monthly balances are not even too high), what US Bank Account for Canadians would you recommend now? Would you go for RBC's instead? Does that one offer a higher interest rate?

How about a savings US Bank Account for Canadians? Can you recommend any of these?

Many thanks.

Yes, in your instance, RBC

Yes, in your instance, RBC would be best, since they have their US and Canadian operations pretty well integrated. Keep an eye on TD though, in case they integrate theirs as well.

I can't think of any decent savings US Bank Accounts for Canadians, since all of the high-paying ones seem to be online-only and not accepting of Canadians, even if they do already have a US Bank Account. If you have a substantial sum of funds and are looking into long-term savings, possibly it's best to through it into a brokerage account or a registered investment (for tax purposes).

I just attempted to open

I just attempted to open such an "Access USA" account with RBC bank, and they told me that I have to fist open a checking account with Royal Bank Canada. Was that your understanding about how things are supposed to be done? Or is it that if I call again I'll get a different answer?


Thanks for the reply. Yes, RBC's US bank sounds good, though, to be honest, TD would sound even better, as that's my main bank. You wouldn't happen to have any more info on the presumed further integration of TD with their US bank, would you? (BTW, what's TD's US bank anyway?)

TD Bank Canada<->US Integration

It is just a presumed integration, I don't think they've announced anything (nor seeded any rumours). TD's US operations have all been re-branded "TD Bank" for your convenience ;)

At one time TD Waterhouse

At one time TD Waterhouse Bank (US) accepted opening of accounts from Canadians (and was advertized on TD Canada Trust website), but they discontinued that service a few years back. However if you have already had an existing TD Waterhouse Bank account they were grandfathered into TD Banknorth. I'm not sure if they will ever resume that service. (I should have applied back then.)

TD Waterhouse US Bank Accounts

Hopefully they will, or at least to some degree where you can call up a number and they can do the transfer for you. I'd imagine the two systems are very different, and regulatory compliance with US and Canadian systems would be a pain.

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