Opening Your First Bank Account in Toronto

When you’re relocating to the city, one of the first orders of business is setting up a bank account in Toronto. Having a bank account will give you the resources to write cheques, use ATMs (also called ABMs), receive funds (including your paycheck) through direct deposits into your account, and use a debit card to make purchases directly from your account.

In Canada, the process of opening your first bank account in Toronto is fairly simple! We’re here to explain the process.

First, you’ll find that you have plenty of options for choosing a bank, and each will have slightly different options. In Toronto, the most popular and largest banks are Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Scotiabank, Citibank, and others. We recommend TD Bank and, which has strong options for newcomers, though CIBC, Scotiabank, and others also advertise special plans and services. Look over the options by browsing online or stopping by branch locations and speaking to professionals there.  Another great option is opening up an account with HSBC, an international bank, before you move, and then very easily open up an HSBC account in Canada. 

When you first open your account, you’ll need to pay a visit to one of the bank’s branches. You’ll be required to provide a combination of identification.



There are three options for identification.

  • First, you can shoe two (2) pieces of identification, which can be:
    • A Canadian-issued driver’s license
    • A Canadian passport
    • Citizenship and Immigration Canada Form
    • A Social Insurance Number (SIN) Card
    • A health insurance (OHIP) card
    • A signed document/card from ServiceOntario
    • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (at some banks)
    • Other forms of ID generally held by Canadian Citizens
  • Second, you can show one (1) piece of ID from the list above, and one piece of ID from the following list:
    • Employee Identity Card (which must be signed and have a photo)
    • A foreign passport,
    • A credit card or debit card issued from a Canadian bank (Canadian Payments Association)
    • A Canadian Institute for the Blind ID
  • The last option is choosing one form of ID from the first list above, and being accompanied by a person who the bank knows, who can confirm your identity.

Savings vs. Checking Accounts:

Savings accounts are a great place to store money that you want to keep for future needs. You’ll accumulate interest on funds you’ve saved based on a determined interest rate. These types of accounts may have service fees and a minimum opening deposit. Be sure to have the service agent you speak with answer any questions you have.

Checking accounts allow you to easily store and access your money. You will receive a debit card or checks (for a fees), which you can use for your daily transactions. There may be different options at each bank, so be sure to ask questions! There may also be certain monthly fees.

Credit Cards:

Obtaining a credit card is a slightly different process than opening a bank account in Toronto. Credit cards work by allowing you to  make purchases on credit, and then pay back the amount with interest. When you are relocating to Toronto, and you’re a newcomer, It is a good idea to obtain a credit card and begin “building your credit.” Showing you use credit cards responsibly will be an important factor when you are ready to take out a loan for a home or car purchase. Credit cards vary in interest rates, minimum motherly payments, fees, and other elements. There are plenty of options to choose from, so learn more from each bank!


Want to be an expert of your banking and financial affairs? Sign up for and use all our Relocation Services – Toronto.  On the site, you can also visit the “Formalities on arrival” and “Finances” section of “The Guide.”


Here’s more great reads about banking and finances in Canada:


(Photos: Alan Cleaver via Flickr, cc and Sara Long via Flickr, cc)


About Peter

As the child of a diplomat, I’ve had the opportunity to really see the world. Living in Algeria, Italy, Venezuela, South Korea, Ukraine and the Bahamas has taught me that diversity is a gift, not something to fear. When it comes to diversity, Canada is a special place. Its big cities attract high percentages of immigrants from every corner of the globe, and natives are welcoming and kind to them. Racial, gender and other forms of diversity are also largely accepted and even celebrated. Relocating is never easy. The stress of moving, and starting over when it comes to finding friend, can be discouraging. But I can tell you from experience that once you get through the tough parts, Canada is a fabulous place to live. // En tant qu’enfant de diplomate, j’ai eu l’occasion de vraiment voir le monde. Vivre en Algérie, en Italie, au Vénézuela, en Corée du Sud, en Ukraine et aux Bahamas m’a appris que la diversité était un cadeau et non quelque chose à craindre. Et quand il s’agit de diversité, le Canada est un endroit spécial. Les grandes villes attirent un pourcentage élevé d’immigrants provenant des quatre coins du monde. Les natifs sont accueillants et gentils envers eux, la race, le sexe et d’autres formes de diversité sont acceptés et même célébrés. La relocalisation n’est jamais facile. Le stress du déménagement et la nécessité de repartir de zéro quand il s’agit de se faire des amis peuvent être décourageants. Mais je peux vous dire par expérience qu’une fois les moments difficiles traversés, le Canada est un pays fabuleux pour y vivre.