Blog by Chloe Cartwright, BSW, RSW, ABR

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Banking & Transfer of Currency

BANKING IN CANADA

Before I talk about transferring your money let me first caution you that it is essential you use one of the professional currency transfer companies like Halo, Money Corp, HiFX.  Do not make the mistake of trying to transfer the funds yourself or by using one of the bank’s transfer services.  You will end up having your money frozen for 30 days when it arrives at your Canadian bank due to money laundering regulations.  A professional currency transfer company does this research before it leaves your home bank and is therefore immediately available to you when it arrives in Canada.

TWO WAYS TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT

First, be aware that in Canada most banks and bank plans will charge you a monthly fee for having an account – unless you choose a plan where you maintain a monthly minimum balance.  In any event you can open an account in one of two ways.

In person by attending at the bank with proof of your identity and a Canadian address.  The process takes about 30 minutes and when completed you will have a bank card in your hand, account ready to go and the account can be accessed either in person, online or by telephone banking.  Because this process is so quick you are able to fax your ‘Cash Forwarding Order’ immediately and have access to those funds within a few hours.

From a distance – you can download the application forms on the various bank’s web sites, fill them out and take them to a Solicitor in your home country to have your identity verified.  These documents will need to be notarised.  The documents will need to be sent to the bank in Canada; they will open your account but wait for you to attend in person to collect your bank cards.  This is a more costly process and really leaves you no further ahead except you have a place to deposit any funds you are transferring internationally.

Most people find it advantageous to open the account in person either on their landing visit or when they arrive permanently.  It does not cost anything to open an account in person and I am all for saving money whenever possible.  Why pay a Solicitor if you don’t have to.  The biggest stumbling block is having that Canadian address.   You can use a friend’s or relatives or if you need to use one that I have for my clients.  Just write and let me know you intend to do that and I will give you the details.  Then when I receive statements for you I can forward them on.

Below you will find links to 3 banks in Canada where you can begin your research on fees and plans offered.  The first one – Bank of Montreal www.bmo.com is one of the largest banks in Canada and certainly has the largest number of cash point machines.  There is one in every Safeway store making it easy to locate without incurring costs of making withdrawals at competitor’s machines.  Additionally, BMO offers Airmiles (www.airmiles.ca) and works in partnership with Safeway, Shell Gas, Century 21 and Rona to earn and keep your business.  This one is my personal favouriteJ  Check them out for yourself.  They also offer ‘new to Canada’ programs and specials.   www.bmo.com

Another bank worth checking out is the Canadian Western Bank which operates only in western Canada.  They are a relatively new bank and are serious about earning your business.  www.cwbank.com   

Finally, also check out TD Canada Trust at www.tdcanadatrust.com  This bank is aggressively seeking business as well and has even begun to be open on Sundays to serve you better. 

You will find banks in Canada all offer a variety of plans and investments.  If you are considering purchasing a home keep in mind that all of these banks will be reluctant to offer you a mortgage unless you have a Canadian credit rating, difficult to come by unless you have lived here for a year or more.  A MORTGAGE BROKER can bridge this gap for you by preparing your application to be ‘lender ready’.  If this is in your future please view the Blog posts on this site - under Mortgage Application, Mortgage Checklist and the Mortgage Video where you can meet John Ablett and become familiar with the criteria for obtaining a mortgage that fits your situation.

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