ConnectABILITY Homepage

How to Open a Bank Account

Choosing a Bank

The first thing to consider when opening a bank account is which bank you will choose. Think about what is important for you. It is important to consider how you get your money and your daily schedule and routines. Consider the following:

  • Where are the branches located?
  • What services does the bank offer?
  • What are the charges or fees for each service?
  • What time does the bank open and close?
  • Does the bank have a location close to your home and/ or work
  • Where does the bank have ATM’s (Automated Teller Machine) available?

Parent Tip: If you are considering opening a joint account with your son or daughter, choose a bank that you do not have an account with. When you have a joint account with the same bank as your personal accounts, there is the possibility of money being automatically shifted from one account to another. This kind of situation can arise when one account does not have enough money to pay for a cheque or automatic withdrawal.

Choosing an Account

It is also important to consider what you will be using the bank account for. Most banks have different types of accounts. Savings accounts are for storing money and gaining some interest. Interest is the money the bank gives you for keeping your money in the bank. Chequing accounts are for daily banking needs like paying bills or taking out money. Most bank accounts usually have service fees. Service fees are charges set by banks and paid by customers of the bank when they use specific services. There are some low fees or no fee accounts available.

Useful Online resources

Here are some good online resources that can help you when choosing both the bank and account that suits you best.

What kind of bank accounts are there?

Instructions in 11 languages

Choosing the Right Chequing Account and Banking package

Banking Package Selector tool:

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a good online tool to help choose a bank and package that meets your needs for banking.

Best no fee chequing accounts in Canada.

Opening a Bank Account

To open a bank account, you may be asked to provide information about where you live, your job if you have one and credit history. However, you do not have to have a job to open a bank account. A credit history is the record of the money you owe and the records of when and how much you pay back. A good credit history means that you have always paid your bills and money that you owe on time. If you have a good credit history it will make it easier to get a loan or a credit card in the future.

No money is necessary to open an account. The bank may ask you to deposit money into the account if you are ordering cheques. This money will be used to pay for the cheques.

To open a bank account you are required to present two pieces of personal identification (see below). The identification you provide must be original, which means that it is not a photocopy. Your name must be the same on all documents. If your name has changed, you must bring a certificate showing the name change. Regardless of what form of identification you present, you will be required to provide your date of birth, if it is not included in the identification you provide.
There are different combinations of ID you can use.

You have three choices.

    • Choice 1 – Show two pieces of ID from List A:

List A

      • Canadian driver’s license
      • Current Canadian passport
      • Canadian birth certificate
      • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
      • Old Age Security card with your Social Insurance Number (SIN) on it
      • Certificate of Indian Status
      • Provincial or territorial health insurance card (this cannot be used in Ontario, Prince Edward Island or Manitoba)
      • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization
      • Permanent Resident card or a Citizenship and Immigration Canada form IMM 1000, IMM 1442, or IMM 5292
      • Document or card, with your picture and signature on it, issued by one of the following authorities:
        • Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
        • Alberta Registries
        • Saskatchewan Government Insurance
        • Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
        • Department of Transportation and Infrastructure of the province of Prince Edward Island
        • Service New Brunswick
        • Service NL of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador
        • Department of Transportation of North West Territories
        • Department of Community Government and Transportation of Nunavut

If you don’t have two pieces of ID from List A above, you can:

    • Choice 2 – Show one piece of ID from List A and one piece of ID from List B, below:

List B

      • Employee ID card with your picture on it
      • Debit card or bank card with your name and signature on it
      • Canadian credit card with your name and signature on it
      • Client card from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind with your picture and signature on it
      • Current foreign passport


    • Choice 3 – Show one piece of ID from List A and have someone the bank knows confirm that you are who you say you are.

Material Sourced from:

IMPORTANT TIP FOR THOSE IN ONTARIO: In July 2011 Ontario introduced a new photo card that will provide government-issued identification to more than 1.5 million Ontarians who do not drive. The Ontario photo card makes it easier for non-drivers to perform everyday transactions such as cashing a cheque or returning something you bought to a store. The voluntary card was launched on July 25, 2011 and is available to individuals 16 years of age and over who do not hold a driver’s license.

See article “How to get an Ontario photo card”.

Useful Online Resources

How do I open a bank account instructions in 11 languages

Send to a Friend

Leave a Reply