online education

How do I open a checking account in Canada?

To facilitate your local administrative procedures, having a bank account in Canada is essential. We explain how to proceed.

This article is taken from Special Figaro “From East to West – Living in Canada why not you?”. This edition offers you the opportunity to answer the questions you are asking yourself in the simplest way possible. This is done with the help of practical texts, maps and testimonials from French people living in Canada.


Whether you want to rent accommodation, collect your salary, subscribe to a phone or internet subscription, it is necessary to open an account with a Canadian bank. This avoids paying fees for each withdrawal from your French account and gives you faster access to your funds. Some French banks have partnerships with a Canadian institution (e.g. BNP Paribas and Scotia). Find out in advance to make it easier for you to open an account and possibly benefit from reduced interest rates on banking transactions.

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, Laurentian Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal… the number of banking institutions at your disposal is vast. To make your choice easier, see the cost of basic services, money transfers to and from abroad, the financial services offered according to your needs…

Prepare in advance

“There are so many things to do when you arrive in a new country. By opening your upstream account you can remove a large fee, advises Souad Ouared, director of business development at the National Bank of Canada. Newcomers can also transfer money before they arrive: it is a very secure way of transferring their money and it will give them direct access to it on the territory. Finally, it’s best to apply for a credit card upon arrival: it’s the best way to start building your credit history. However, it is very important to know how to use your credit card well in order to avoid getting into debt synonymous with high interest rates. The National Bank of Canada offers a comprehensive support service to meet all the needs of newcomers before, during and after arrival. Advisors take the time to explain everything to them and we have set up financial education articles and webinars to educate them better.”

Open a remote account in a few clicks

Opening an online account is quick. With Desjardins, for example, all you have to do is log on to desjardins.com/OpenAccount and enter the data. You will receive an email with information about your account within 24 to 48 hours. To open an online account, you will need your passport, the official document issued by the government of Canada or Quebec (study permit, work permit, full LMIA, etc.), your future address in Canada, and the zip code of your employer or educational institution that Tax identification number of your country of origin.

The account opening is completed upon your arrival in Canada with your identity documents. Same process on the BNC side “The agency will contact the client to arrange a meeting with the consultant upon arrival in Canada. This meeting is very important as it is there that the account will be activated and the funds transferred (if applicable) will be accessible. The bank card (referred to as a debit card in Canada) is issued and the credit card request is made.”confirms Souad Ouared.


bank charges

Using an ATM other than his bank’s will incur fees that vary from $2 to $7. Monthly account maintenance fees are typically less than $30 per month and are free when the balance is high. Interac transfers, which allow funds to be sent online using the recipient’s email address, are often free or charged at a maximum of $2.


“East to West – Why don’t you live in Canada?”€8.90, available at kiosks and more the Figaro shop.

From East to West – Live in Canada, why not you? Le figaro

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