start by Completing the application online

Confirm the account you're about to open has the features you expect. 

You will be asked to provide some personal information: 
your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, and where your income comes from (family, gift, part-time or full-time work are all good answers, so are being a student / looking for work).  They may also ask where you pay taxes - probably 'Canada'.

You shouldn't have to provide your SIN (social insurance number) when opening a chequing account (because you won't be paid interest). 

  • Some chequing accounts pay token interest - giving the bank a reason to request your SIN for tax purposes. 
  • Banks often ask for your SIN when you are a new client so that they have it on file - as they hope you'll get more of their products. It’s up to you whether or not you want to provide it in such a situation.
  • Online banks are more likely to ask for your SIN than traditional banks. They like to use it to help verify your identity online.
  • Everything you need to know about the SIN.

You may be asked if you would like to purchase additional banking services, for which you'd have to pay.  In most cases you should decline, except for overdraft protection.  Do not choose the monthly-fee option - choose to only pay when you overdraw.

​Don't worry about getting cheques.  You have better methods of transferring money (e-transfers, direct deposits, and pre-authorized payments - discussed in the KEEP UP section.  If your account includes a few cheques for free, accept them - just in case.

When you finish answering questions,you'll be asked to confirm online that you read the terms and conditions of your account. This is like signing a regular banking application.

You will create a PIN (personal identification number) online. You'll use it to verify your identity before you can make a purchase / withdraw money using your credit card.

The bank will verify your identity. You may be asked to mail / email copies of your IDs or visit and Canada Post Office to show originals in person.

  • ​Online banks have a special agreement with Canada Post to verify IDs.  It must be done in person.  ​​Government rules do not permit banks to verify your identity through video call.

Typical IDs acceptable to banks are: a government-issued photo ID and proof of address. Try to bring your driver's license and passport. What if you don't have those?.

After you've opened your account

Your debit card will be mailed to you. Follow the attached instructions to initialize it.

Sign your card. On the back of your card, below the magnetic strip, there's a signature box - make sure to sign. Your debit card has three important numbers - the card number and expiry date on the front, and the security code on the back (three numbers to the right of the signature box).

online id verification

You will be asked to mail / email copies of your IDs to the bank.

  • If the bank is unable to verify your identity online, they'll ask you to show your IDs in person at a Canada Post Office.

How do online banks know you're who you say you are?​

Open An online Account

visit a canada post office with your IDs

Your bank will generate a reference number for you. It will be sent to your email or phone number. Write it down.

Take it to a Canada Post office along with two IDs. They'll know what to do.

Confirm your debit card's daily limit by calling the bank. This is how much you can withdraw / spend in a day. The default is $500. You can ask for an increase/decrease if this is too low/high.

If you're having any problems, with the set-up or with your account afterwards, call the bank's 24h help line.