As an expat moving to Canada, you will have a long list of things to do upon arrival. Sorting out your finances, banking and money is a priority, of course.

When arriving in Canada you must set up a bank account, file taxes, and pay bills, which is why we created this guide to getting financially set up in Canada.


First thing first, Canada uses the Canadian Dollar (CAD, C$, or locally known as ‘Loonie’), where 100 cents equals one dollar.

Coins2 dollars, 1 dollars, 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 1 cent
Notes5, 10, 20, 50, 100 Canadian Dollar Notes (colloquially called bills)

Banking in Canada

Before relocating to Canada, you must review all of your savings, bank or building society accounts and notify your financial service providers of your relocation plans. Once you have a Canadian bank account, you can manage your banking online or on mobile apps.

Setting up a Canadian bank account

Setting up a bank account in Canada is relatively straightforward, but some banks may request that you arrange an appointment. It is possible to open a bank account without employment or even depositing any money, but this varies by bank. Some Canadian banks include:

  • Bank of Montreal
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • Scotiabank
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Canadian Western Bank Group
  • Laurentian Bank of Canada
  • National Bank of Canada

You may also set up a bank account from abroad, with certain banks such as Scotiabank.

What you need to bring with you

You will need two forms of identification such as a passport, Social Insurance Number (SIN) or temporary or permanent resident permit; a Canadian driver’s licence or employer’s card are also acceptable. At least one piece of identification must have a photo of you.

Your documents must be current, original and have the same name listed on each. Confirmation of address (usually a utility bill) may also be required, but we recommend that you check with individual banks for their specific requirements.

International students on a visa or anyone residing in Canada on a work permit may be asked for documents to support their reason for residency. The bank may also ask for proof of address and signature.

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Sending money overseas

You can arrange in international money transfers through your bank, though the fee is usually more than some online providers. Income from overseas business interests can be sent to your Canadian bank account this way, however you may subject to fees and taxes.

Taxes in Canada

As with each country, Canada has distinct tax rules for foreign earned income. Research your tax obligations on the Canada Revenue Agency(CRA) website, and gather the necessary paperwork.

Income tax

You are liable for federal income tax, collected by the government, on your worldwide income in all territories except for Quebec and this will be self-assessed. You will need to fill in return with the CRA by their required deadline, which is 30 April.

Non-refundable tax credits and refundable tax credits are available to taxpayers for certain expenses. Surtaxes are applicable for higher income earners as are low-income tax reductions for low earners.

The federal government also collects corporate income taxes on behalf of all provinces and territories except Alberta and Quebec. When a taxpayer formally objects to the CRA assessment, you may appeal. For any specific questions, consult an accountant or the CRA website.

Canada pension plan

Everyone over the age of 18 has to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan(CPP), except for Quebec province, which has its own plan the Quebec Pension Plan (RRQ in French). Retirement pension can be accessed at age 65.

The maximum pensionable earnings under the CPP for 2016 will be $54,900. Those earning more than $54,900 in 2016 won’t be required or permitted to make additional contributions to the CPP. The basic exemption amount is $3,500, to remain the same for 2016.

Employee and employer pension contribution rates for 2016 will remain at 4.95%; self-employed contribution rates remain at 9.9%.

The maximum employer and employee contribution to the plan for 2016 will be $2,544.30 each and the maximum self-employed contribution will be $5,088.60.