What are the Laws about Opening a Bank Account?

Opening A Bank Account

Under Canadian law, you have the right to open a bank account regardless of a lack of a job, a lack of money to put into the account right away, or past bankruptcy. The only exception to this rule is that Banks can refuse to open an account for you if:

  • They suspect that you have committed a crime related to any bank,
  • You have harassed a bank employee; or
  • You show false identification.

How to Open a Bank Account

In order to open a bank account in Canada you will need to be able to provide proof of your identity. In order to do so you will need to show two forms of approved identification that includes at least one item from List A. If you do not have 2 items of identification from List A, you will be able to show a secondary piece of identification from those in List B.

List A

  • Canadian driver’s license;
  • Current Canadian passport;
  • A birth certificate issued in Canada;
  • Social Insurance Number card;
  • Old age security card with SIN on it;
  • Certificate of Indian Status;
  • Provincial or territorial health insurance card that can be used as ID under relevant laws;
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization;
  • Permanent resident card or a Citizenship and Immigration Canada form IMM 1000, IMM 1442, or IMM 5292;
  • Document or card with your picture and signature on it issued by recognized authorities such as:
    • Insurance Corporation of British Columbia;
    • Alberta Registries;
    • Saskatchewan Government Insurance;
    • Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Regions;
    • Department of Transportation and Infrastructure of the province of Prince Edward Island;
    • Service New Brunswick;
    • Service NL of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador;
    • Department of Transportation of North West Territories; or
    • Department of Community Government and Transportation of Nunavut.

List B

  • Employee ID card with your picture on it that has been issued by an employer that is well known in the community;
  • A debit card or bank card with your name or signature on it;
  • A Canadian credit card with your name and signature on it;
  • Client card from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind with your picture and signature on it;
  • Current foreign passport.

What if the bank refuses?

If the bank refuses to make an account for you for any reason, they must provide you with a letter saying they won’t give you an account, and to contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. If you don’t receive this letter, ask for it. Tell the bank you wish to make a complaint and they will also direct you to their complaint-handling process. If you are unable to get a response from the bank you can also contact the bank’s Ombudsman to escalate your complaint. The Ombudsman’s information will be available online you can ask your banking rep. to provide it.

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