When you are ready to open your bank account, you will be asked for personal information. This is true no matter which bank you use or which account you choose. At all times your personal information, and your privacy, are protected. If you are unemployed you can open an account. A minimum deposit is not required to open an account. If you were or are bankrupt, you can open an account, provided there was no illegal activity associated with the bankruptcy.
Identification is needed to meet federal laws and it helps the bank ensure that only you and those you authorize have access to the money in your account. You can provide identification in two different ways:
- You can provide two pieces of identification. One piece must come from Part A of the list following. The second piece may come from Part A or Part B;
- You can provide one piece of identification from Part A, and have confirmation of your identity by someone of good standing from the community where the bank is located, or a client of that bank in good standing.
If you can, provide one piece of identification with your picture on it (but this is not mandatory). You may be asked for other pieces of identification if the bank's staff have reason to question your identity. Acceptable identification is listed below, but some provinces may limit the kind of personal identification that can be accepted as proof of identity. All identification must be current.
- Adrivers'licence issued in Canada, as permitted to be used for identification purposes under provincial law
- A Canadian passport
- A Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization, in the form of a paper document or card but not a commemorative issue
- A Permanent Resident card or Citizenship and Immigration Canada Form IMM 1000 or IMM 1442
- A birth certificate issued in Canada
- A Social Insurance Number card issued by the Government of Canada
- An Old Age Security card issued by the Government of Canada
- A Certificate of Indian Status issued by the Government of Canada
- A provincial health insurance card, as permitted to be used for identification purposes under provincial law
- Adocument or card, bearing the individual's photograph and signature, issued by any of the following authorities or their successors:
- Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
- Alberta Registries
- Saskatchewan Government Insurance
- Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
- Department of Transportation and Public Works of the Province of Prince Edward Island
- Service New Brunswick
- Department of Government Services and Lands of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Department of Transportation of the Northwest Territories
- Department of Community Government and Transportation of the Territory of Nunavut
- An employee identity card, issued by an employer that is well known in the community, bearing the individual's photograph
- A bank or automated banking machine or client card, issued by a member of the Canadian Payments Association in the name of, or bearing the name of, the individual and bearing the individual's signature
- A credit card, issued by a member of the Canadian Payments Association in the name of, or bearing the name of, the individual and bearing the individual's signature
- A Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) client card bearing the individual's photograph and signature
- A foreign passport
When additional information may be needed:
If a bank has any questions about the type of identification provided, it may ask for additional identification with a photograph and signature. If the identification provided does not have your name, date of birth, address and occupation, the bank may ask you to provide that information. You must provide the information, except where you do not have an address or are not employed.
When a personal account may not be opened:
A bank does not have to open an account if:
- It believes you plan to use the account or illegal or fraudulent purposes
- You have a history of illegal or fraudulent ctivities with any financial service rovider within the past seven years
- It believes you knowingly made false statements in the information you provided
- It believes opening the account would subject other customers or bank employees to harassment, abuse or physical harm
- You refuse to allow the bank to check the identification you provided or whether any of the above conditions apply to you
- The request is made at a branch or point of service where the only accounts offered are linked to an account at another financial institution.
If the bank cannot open an account for you, you will be advised in writing and provided with information about how to contact the bank's regulator.
When opening an account, banks may check your information with consumer reporting agencies to verify your identity and confirm if there is any reason why an account should not be opened. Banks will, with your consent, conduct a credit check to help determine some of the features of your account, such as daily ABM withdrawal limits or hold policies on non-electronic deposits.
Give personal information
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your home address (if you have a permanent address)
Note: you may be asked for proof of residence.A utility, telephone or electric bill is helpful to confirm your address if your other ID does not provide it.
- Banks are required by law to ask for your Social Insurance Number if you open an account that will pay interest. But any account can be opened without a SIN.
- Your occupation (if you are working)
- A sample of your signature to protect your account and your money (sign your name on the signature card the same way you would sign your name on other forms, like cheques). You or someone at your bank may record the information on a form which looks like the following diagram.
Agree to the rules that apply to the account you are opening.
The bank will ask you to sign an account agreement. Or the bank will ask you to sign a signature card to say that you have read the account agreement. The agreement lists the rules for using the account. When you sign, you are saying that you understand and agree to follow these rules. You will be given a copy of the agreement to take away with you.
The bank's responsibilities
Banks have three basic responsibilities.
1. Give information
Depending on the kind of account you have, the bank must give you certain types of information. Different banks may use slightly different names for the accounts. Make sure that you understand the facts so you can make the best choice of account. If you are not sure what something means, ask the person helping you to explain it. The bank must tell you:
- The names the bank uses for different accounts, what type of account each is and the types of account packages available.
- How much interest will be paid, how it will be calculated, and when it will be paid.
- If the account balance affects the rate of interest you earn.
- What service charges you should expect to pay.
- Which service charges may be taken from your account.
- Whether you may write cheques on the account.
- Whether there is a hold on the funds deposited by cheque and the maximum hold period.
- Whether you will get a passbook or monthly statement, with or without your cancelled cheques.
- What your account number is. If you open more than one account, you will be given a different number for each.
- How it intends to use the personal information that you have provided. If you don't want your bank to use any personal information for purposes not related to the product or service you have asked for, you must tell them. The bank will respect your wishes.
- How to access the funds in your account.
- How service charges change or when new charges are added.
- When interest rates change.
- How to contact someone in the bank if you do not feel that you have been treated fairly or if you do not understand something about your account.
2. Give updates or changes to your account
The bank keeps records of all changes or transactions that take place in your account. Depending on the type of account you have, you will receive a passbook or a monthly account statement.
If you have a passbook, it will be brought up-to-date every time you give it to a customer service representative. You can also do this at some ABMs.
Your passbook lists all the transactions that have taken place in your account. Each action is called a transaction and has a special code. The codes and what they mean are written on the first page (where your account number is also written) or on the back page. Other pages are used to show the transactions. Your responsibilities may also be listed in the passbook.
If you receive a monthly account statement, you may obtain it through the mail or online if you bank by computer. You can also get a copy of your statement from an ABM. The account statement shows everything that has happened in your account in the past month. All transactions (with transaction codes) are listed on the statement. Any kind of withdrawal is called a debit, and any kind of deposit is called a credit.
You may get your cancelled cheques, which have been cleared in the last month, with your account statement. Each cheque will be stamped with the date the money was taken from your account. The cheques can be used to make sure your statement is correct. They can also be used as a receipt or proof that the bank has paid out the money on your behalf. (This can be a big help if someone says that a payment you made has not been received.)
3. Provide other forms
If you open a chequing account, the bank may give you a starter kit with some cheques (which do not have your name printed on them). You may use these while you wait for your personalized cheques to come. When you open your account, you will be asked to order and pay for personalized cheques. The personalized chequebook will have 25 or more cheques with your name, the bank's name, and your account number on them. You can also include your address and telephone number on your personalized cheques if you wish. The cheques are numbered to help you keep track of them.
Check the record
A separate booklet, called a cheque register, comes with your cheques. It is like a blank passbook. It is the place where you write the details of what you do each time you use your account. Every time you put money in, take cash out, write a cheque, or make an ABM or direct payment transaction make sure you note the details.
You can use your passbook, cheque register, or the monthly statement and the cancelled cheques to make sure that no mistakes have been made by you or the bank. If there are mistakes, you can correct them. You should do this quickly. Most banks set time limits for correcting mistakes. If you leave it too long, you may have to pay a fee for searching records.
Always be careful to avoid N.S.F. cheques. N.S.F. stands for Not Sufficient Funds. This means that there is not enough money in your account to pay the amount of a cheque you wrote. Banks charge a fee when this happens. If you wrote the cheque to a company, that company may also charge you a fee.
Look on the back of your statement for the steps to follow to check and confirm your actual balance to prevent writing a N.S.F. cheque.