In Canada, under the new law it is your right to have a personal bank account. You can open a bank account at the bank institution of choice at will. Gone are days when Canadian banks used to refuse to open accounts for individuals who are bankrupt or have a history of bankruptcy, do not have jobs or those who do not have cash to deposit in their accounts immediately they open the account. Nowadays, courtesy of new laws every Canadian is entitled to a personal bank account whether they have a job or not, are bankrupt or financially stable. A bank can only refuse an individual to open an account if is suspected to have committed a bank-related crime such as harassing bank employees or giving false identification.

When opening a bank account, you must have your original Identification Card (ID). The bank will ask for two different combinations of your IDs (List A and B) or one ID from List A and an endorsement letter from someone who has an account in the same bank. List A has Canadian’s Passport, Canadian’s Driver’s Licence, Canadian Birth Certificate, Social Insurance Number (SIN) card or Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Naturalization. List B entails Employee ID card with your portrait, Debit card with your name and signature, Canadian credit card with name and signature or current foreign passport.

It is mandatory to produce these set of identifications failure of which the banking institution will not open an account for you. Most important you should give factual information; giving fake information is a crime and the necessary actions can be taken against you. It is also worth mentioning that the documents should be original and not photocopies.

However, if you have all the necessary documents and the bank refuses to open an account for you then you can do one of the following.

  • Get a letter from the bank with reasons why it won’t open an account for you. Make sure you get this letter from the bank. Also, the bank should tell you how to contact (FCAC) Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
  • Make a complaint to complaint-handling department of the bank. By law, every banking institution should have this department to handle customers’ complaints.
  • If you do not get any assistance from the bank then you can call FCAC 1-866-461-3222 for free to get assistance.

Once you open an account you are also entitled to receive all material information regarding your account. They should provide you with all the charges applicable to the account, complaint handling procedures as well as information of how the bank will communicate to you incase of any increase to charges applicable. Also, you are entitled to get a copy of agreement from the bank within 7 business days after you open the account.

When you are opening an account with a bank, most banks demand that you be there in person. But if you already have an account with them, then it is possible to open another account via phone or internet. This is so because the bank already has all your essential documents.

Whether you have a job or not, as a Canadian you have a right to a personal account.