Opening a Bank Account

Opening a bank account is a crucial first step in allowing you to properly manage your money. Canada has a number of national banks and credit unions which all offer different services to help their customers meet their banking needs and requirements. Before choosing which financial institution you’d like to open a bank account with, we recommend doing some research into which service plan can help save you the most time and money, depending on your individual needs.

Who Can Open a Bank Account

Regardless of your financial history or if you are receiving credit counselling or debt counselling, under Canadian law, you have the right to open a personal bank account. You can open a personal bank account even if you don’t have a job; don’t have money to put into the bank account; or if you have been bankrupt in the past.

Banks are only allowed to refuse you an account if you have committed a crime related to any bank; if you harass or threaten any of their employees; or if you provide false identification. The Canadian government has enacted the Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations which ensures that all Canadians have the opportunity to open a bank account. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is responsible for enforcing these regulations.

How To Open a Bank Account

To open a bank account, you will need to visit the bank in person and ensure you have two pieces of government-issued identification with you. Please note that photocopies are not permitted and that you must have the original documents with you. For the full list of which documents are accepted and what you can do if you do not have two pieces of the required identification, visit the FCAC online. Some examples of accepted documents include:

  • Canadian driver’s licence
  • Canadian birth certification
  • Canadian passport
  • Social Insurance Number card
  • Certificate of Indian Status
  • Canadian health card from any province or territory

If the bank will not open an account for you, they must give you a letter stating as such and also provide you with the contact information for the FCAC. You will need to file a complaint with the bank and then contact the FCAC for specific instruction on how you should proceed.

Please visit the FCAC online to receive more information regarding personal bank accounts and details about your rights and responsibilities as a consumer.

At Dana MacRae Trustee in Bankruptcy, we can help answer any questions you might have and provide you with the credit counselling services you need to move forward. Talk to one of our bankruptcy trustees for a free, no-obligation consultation at 1-800-665-9965.