Newcomers now have a choice of products to use when they arrive so do you research before you open an account or get a mortgage, banks have been working hard to make their products accessible to new immigrants. Open a non-resident bank account in person while you are on your fact finding trip that way you have a name of your personal contact and you can ask your questions as they arise when you return home. You can also get information on what is required to obtain a credit card and how to transfer larger sums of money across. This will save you time and frustration when you are ready to make the move.
Bank Accounts in Canada fall into two broad categories-checking accounts and savings accounts.
Checking Accounts: these are similar to UK current accounts and are used for day to day banking.
They typically incur a small monthly fee, pay a low rate of interest but offer debit cards, cheque facilities and easy access to funds.
Savings Accounts : typically used or longer term savings, they limit access to your money.
They generally pay a higher rate of interest than checking accounts, but with possible limits on the number of withdrawals allowed in a specified period and there may be interest penalties on withdrawals. It is common for people to hold both types of accounts.
Choosing a main stream bank has its advantages for easy access to branches and ATM's in rural areas.
You will need to provide two government issued pieces of identification typically a social insurance number (SIN) card and an IMM 1442 document (for temporary residents). Foreign residents applying to open an account may also be required to provide a reference from their employer or previous bank.
If you need to, use a mail forwarding service or a friends address to give to the bank when opening an account and not in permanent accommodation.
Canadian banks don't typically accept UK credit history but order one anyway before you arrive in Canada and also obtain a letter from your bank this will help the bank decide on whether you are a high risk or not, when it comes to lending you money.